The weekend of 17th-18th April saw 17 gardens take part in the first Herts 48-hr Garden Bird Race.  As well as points being awarded for species according to their rarity, additional bonus points were available for extra special sightings such as “4 or more species of raptor” or for the “Wagtail Triple” – all three species of wagtail recorded.  In all 89 different species were recorded over the weekend with over 1,100 points being accumulated. Go to 48hr Garden Bird Race to view full counts and species list.

It was a close fought race at the top of the leaderboard with John Pritchard of Shafford Farm narrowly missing out on the top prize to deserved winners Phil MacMurdie and son Ollie from their Wareside garden. 

They notched up an impressive list of 56 different species including Lapwing, Barn Owl, Hobby and both Common and Lesser Whitethroats.  With their score of 122 points, Phil and Ollie win the prestigious Herts Bird Club mug.

With previous garden day counts on record, a “most improved” prize was up for grabs for the observer who could better their previous number of species by the most.  While Graham Knight of Hertford added a further 5 species setting his new Garden Personal Best at 39 species, it was Dan Fletcher of St Albans who most improved his list with 7 extra species giving him a new ‘GPB’ of 41 species.  Congratulations to Dan who wins a handy notebook for future sightings.

While real rarities and spring migrants were in short supply some of the more unusual birds were heard at night from the Chairman’s garden.  A distant singing Cetti’s Warbler at 4am and a flyover Woodcock just after dark made it on to his list, but it was the passing Curlew on Friday night that wins him “Best Bird”.  Congratulations to Rupert who receives a painting of a Curlew by local wildlife artist Matt Moreton.

Once again, the competition proved a great focal point for garden birding and plenty of banter on Twitter as bird lists grew (or failed to grow!) throughout the weekend.  A big thank you to all who took part and to Matt Moreton for agreeing to paint the Best Bird prize.