When the birding and football worlds collide!

Red Kite - nowadays easily seen from football pitches across the nation

Back in April I was watching the Sutton United v Crawley game in the company of Jake Everitt (Brighton and Hove Albion season ticket holder and a top Sussex birder) when we started to list birds that we had observed whilst watching a match - we swapped Little Egrets, Red Kites and Peregrines - and there and then we devised a challenge for the 2022-23 season. These are the rules:

The winner be the person who has observed (or heard) the highest number of birds species during the 2022-23 season, from football ground premises whilst attending a match. Birds seen prior and post kick-off will count, but hanging around outside of the ground does not!

Confined to games that involve at least one club from Steps 1-6 in England and Wales (Scottish equivalent permitted.)

Friendlies, league, cup and play-offs allowed.

No optics, just eyes and ears.

There is no prize, just the ownership of bragging rights for the following season.

I am surprised how competitive I have become over this. The recently released 'friendly' fixture lists of a host of teams have taken up more of my time than is healthy, my reading up on ground locations and the making of lists of potential target species has become a daily task. The more urban and larger the ground then the less likely it is to be major player in this competition - thus the 'Premiership' Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (as magnificent as it is) will perform very poorly against Lydd Town's modest patch of green in the Southern Counties East Football League (Division One, Step 6). The latter will receive more than one visit..

I'm hoping to start the competition this coming Saturday, with a friendly fixture that is taking place on a rural pitch (Reigate Priory v Beckenham Town of Step 4). Failing that Sutton United's away trip to Dorking Wanderers on Tuesday evening promises breeding Swifts, House Martins and possibly Peregrine, Red Kite and Common Buzzard. 

They think it's all over. It will be sometime in June 2023...

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