Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Results Are In!

Thanks everyone for taking part in the Linnet count game, I've enjoyed watching the different estimates come in. I've had 35 responses in all, varying from 450 - 1500 birds. Here's the pic again...

So what do the guesstimates look like?  Well I've quickly put this little bar chart together, which I hope makes sense. I have rounded all guesses up/down to the nearest '50' to neaten it up...

As you can see the most popular estimate was the 600 bracket (575-624), with 800 being the second favoured. The 500-700 range received 60% of votes, with the average of all answers working out at 688.  And the answer? Well I took a series of three photos just after I took the above pic, slightly more zoomed in. I have since stitched them together and counted...

After each '00' I changed colour, except for the turquoise on the right, that's 45 birds. Which means the answer is 845 Linnet! Although to be pedantic, in the original photo there's clearly still a few birds flying in, about 15, so 830 would also be correct.  But as I was only after estimates, anyone guessing 800-850 is a winner for me, so well done @bucko41 @CharmouthBirder @cornishbirder @freddyalway @surreywallcreep and @WhitleyBirder.

It's been a bit of a wake up call for me though. I often have to count lots and quickly, and whenever I double check (with photos) I'm always there or there abouts. But my god, I was way out with these! And I think I know why...

Pretty much all occasions I've had to conduct quick mass counts involve larger birds, mostly wading birds and wildfowl, also Wood Pigeons and Starlings/thrushes. And I seem to be able to mass count large numbers of these just fine, but my eye is clearly simply untrained to big numbers of small birds. And thinking about it some more, I'm not surprised, because how often do we see large flocks of finches/buntings these days? Anything up to 250/300 I would count bird by bird, and I can't think of many occasions that I've had a single flock of 300+ small passerines to count!

There were 900-950 Linnet in total in this field, just west of Greendale Farm Shop, which I was really impressed about. A truly massive gathering. I would love to have access to this field and have the chance to give the place a good grilling. With that many birds about, who knows what else could be lurking in there...

Thanks again everyone for getting involved. Those of you that were brave enough anyway :)


  1. Pretty typical result for me then, as I guesstimated 700. Undercounting is my speciality. In future I should probably guesstimate, then add 20%. That will put me pretty close! 😊

    1. Well Gavo, you were still closer to the true figure than the average guess! Yes do that though, I did enjoy your 1.2 Surf Scoters off Beer that year.