The Great Herts Breeding Bird Challenge

With the peak of breeding season approaching fast, and lockdown continuing, the Herts Bird Club would like to encourage more breeding records from gardens and daily exercise walks.

A number of species are under-recorded in terms of breeding – the table below shows the number of confirmed breeding locations from the 2018 Bird Report for a variety of common species.  Can we do better in 2020?

Records of all breeding (possible, probable or confirmed) species are welcome, but we would particularly like all breeding records submitted for four species: Starling, House Sparrow, Swift and House Martin.  These species are red or amber-listed but nest in close proximity to us, and so now is an excellent time to start recording them, particularly on local exercise walks.

Please submit via the website using the breeding codes from the Breeding Status drop-down menu. Use the Comment field to add additional notes including street names which would be useful.   Updates and prompts as to the best time to record certain species will be provided on the website and via Twitter.

Swift records can also be submitted using the RSPB’s new Swift Mapper app

It won’t be possible to display all breeding records on the website, but a selection will be published at the discretion of the moderators




***Please at all times comply with government guidelines on restriction of movement in relation to COVID-19***


Confirmed breeding locations – 2018 Herts Bird Report / 2020 as 9am 23rd May

We have received 410 separate confirmed breeding records in 2020 which is an excellent response.

Thank you to all those who have submitted records to the website. Please keep it up!

  2018  2020    2018  2020 
Lapwing    3    1 Chiffchaff    4    2
Stock Dove    3    3 Lesser Whitethroat    2    -
Collared Dove    5    2 Whitethroat    6    3
Swift    4    2 Goldcrest    5    -
Great Spotted  Woodpecker   19    8 Wren    7    2
Green Woodpecker    8    3 Nuthatch    5    8
Jay    2    - Treecreeper    2    2
Magpie    7    4 Starling   11   51
Jackdaw    5   12 Robin   12   24
Carrion Crow   13    7 House Sparrow    7   26
Coal Tit    4    4 Dunnock    2    5
Swallow    3    2 Yellow Wagtail    5    1
House Martin   12    4 Pied Wagtail    7    2
Willow Warbler    0    -      

















Selected other species, confirmed breeding locations in 2020 

Mute Swan   6      Ring-Necked Parakeet   1    
Great Crested Grebe   4     Kestrel   1
Canada Goose   6 Skylark   2
Greylag Goose   5 Blackcap   3
Moorhen   7 Grey Wagtail   4
Coot   9 Chaffinch   4
Red Kite   5 Goldfinch   3
Sparrowhawk   1 Greenfinch   2
Little Owl   1 Yellowhammer   1
Tawny Owl   4 Reed Bunting   1 



BTO Survey Update 13 May 2020

Please read this important update from BTO: BTO and COVID-19. In particular please note:


You may carry out survey work for the following surveys within England, so long as you follow government advice and any additional survey-specific guidance provided by BTO: Breeding Bird Survey, Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, Wetland Bird SurveyHeronries Census, Woodcock Survey, Garden BirdWatch, and Nesting Neighbours. BirdTrack remains open."

For the Breeding Bird Survey please take note the following:

"England, Bailiwicks of Guernsey & Jersey and Isle of Man: You may undertake your BBS visits but please ensure visits take place within three or four days either side of your usual visit date as normal. This is absolutely critical this year as we will largely be working with Late visit only data and need to remain as consistent as possible with this limited dataset. If you can not survey within this timeframe when looking at previous dates for the site, we advise the survey is not carried out for that visit"

Breeding Bird Challenge - Unusual Nest Sites

Update 24 May 2020:

Thank you to everyone who has submitted records so far for the The Great Herts Breeding Bird Challenge which have included a number of unconventional locations!

Blue Tits and Great Tits seem particularly opportunistic. Blue Tits have been observed nesting in: a lamppost, playground equipment, behind a drainpipe, an old gate post, and holes in buildings including: a doctor's surgery, a bike shed, a cafe (same nest 3rd year running) and an old farmhouse. One pair have been recorded using an old woodpecker hole. Surprising Great Tits nests sites include: a lamppost, a traffic cone and a security camera!

Other species include: starlings nesting in a swift box, robins is a shed, moorhens on a upturned car bumper, several records of Jackdaws nesting in chimneys and a church tower, and a pair of Kestrels nesting in a church tower too.





As part of the The Great Herts Breeding Bird Challenge we'd love to hear about bird nesting in unusual places, or using nest boxes designed for other species.

Like this tweet from Herts birder George Moreton who has House Sparrows squeezing in through a small hole in an external wall and nesting behind his bath panel!  

Please send details to

The Great Herts Garden Bird Count: Winners

The moment you have all been waiting for.....the winners of the Great Herts Garden Bird Count.

Firstly a huge thank you to everyone that took part. We received records from over 110 gardens across the county; a fantastic response. In total, 123 species were recorded, a number beyond most peoples' expectations. A full write up will follow in due course.


So onto the winners and prizes:

1st place...

Overall winner is John Pritchard who recorded an incredible 77 species from his Shafford Farm garden. Congratulations to John who wins a wifi bird box camera and handmade wooden bird box from greenfeathers the wildlife camera specialists. 







Herts 24-hour Garden Bird Race - The Results

Congratulations to Chris Gibson who won the first 24-hour Herts Garden Bird Race on Saturday 25th April 2020.  Chris recorded a very impressive 50 species from his Stanstead Abbotts garden on the day and wins this exclusive mug!

Read Chris' account of his day at the end of this article.

Joint runners-up were Chris Ruis, St Albans and Paul Ward, Rickmansworth who both finished on 47 species. Go to GoogleDoc to see all counts. 

On the day 31 people took part, submitting 1,005 records and recording 79 species, an average of 32 species per garden. It was a chilly start, especially for those that