This last weekend saw the second Herts Autumn Garden Watch but this time run over the whole weekend.  While there were some very heavy periods of rain and a stubborn south-westerly wind a wide variety of birds were recorded with evidence of autumn departures and arrivals too.

With many people away seeking rarities further abroad, it was a select few who participated, in search of those elusive bonus points.  Just one garden managed to tick the ‘Big Three’ – Grey Heron, Cormorant & Canada Goose – while all gardens recorded at least 4 species of tits.

Departing Swallows, House Martins and one Sand Martin were noted, and a passage of Linnets, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits was evident.  Two Siskins flew over a St Albans garden but Redwings and Fieldfares continue to tarry.  The night-time bonus points were hard to come by, but Tawny Owls were heard calling from three gardens.

In all, 62 species were recorded over the weekend and 49 of them from George Moreton’s garden in Gaddesden Row.  This impressive total gave him a winning 88 bonus points ahead of Rupert Evershed in St Albans taking second place with 83 points.  Congratulations to George who wins the sought-after ‘winner’s mug’!  George also wins the ‘most improved’ prize as the only participant who was able to better his previous total species count.  Highlights from his garden included 4 species of raptor, a Bullfinch and a flyover Raven.

The Best Bird prize goes to Paul Ward who, thanks to his Rickmansworth garden’s proximity to water, managed not only to record but also photograph a visiting Cetti’s Warbler – a truly rare garden bird.  Paul also recorded a Kingfisher and made the most of the bonus points going for waterfowl.  He wins a painting by Matt Moreton of a Cetti’s Warbler – well done Paul!

As ever, it was as much about the taking part as it was about the species counts and bonus points.  Thanks must go to everyone who participated and also to the organisers, Tom Speller and Rupert Evershed.  Finally, a very big thank you to Matt Moreton for once again agreeing to paint the ‘best bird’ prize.

The daily Herts Garden Autumn Vismig Watch continues with the promise of winter thrushes and larger numbers of birds on the move, and maybe something rare as well!  You can enter your garden sightings on the Googlesheet and share your discoveries on Twitter using #hertsgardenvismig