See also...

If you are interested in birds, you may also like to read what's on our Birds on Magog Down page.

Bird Club - come and join us!

If you have never given birdwatching a try do come along on the first Saturday of the month (meeting in the car park at 8am from April to October; slightly later at 8.30 am from November to March).

Membership is very informal–– just turn up and enjoy the birding walk. It is a healthy way of getting fresh air and exercise, and de-stressing while learning about birds.

We welcome new members of any age from beginners to life-time bird watchers. Sorry, no dogs

skylark_garth_cropped_250Photo: Skylark (Alauda arvensis) © Garth Peacock 2015

Long-term Survey of Breeding Birds

In February 2012, Bryan Davies and Robin Cox of Cambridgeshire Bird Club proposed a long term breeding bird survey on Magog Down.

Full reports of the first six years of this survey can be found here:

2017 Report

2016 Report

2015 Report

2014 Report

2013 Report

2012 Report

Bird Reports 2015 prev  :  next

Summer Migrants

Following on from our winter visitors we can now look forward to the arrival of our summer migrant birds. It is true some of the overwintering birds are still here. There were several Fieldfares on the Magog Down in the first week of March but generally most will have left by the end of the month.

chiffchaffThe first new arrivals are usually Chiff Chaff, easilywillow_warbler recognised by their ‘chiff chaff’ call and Willow Warbler with a more quiet descending song. Both birds are very similar and the song is probably the best way to identify them. Chiff Chaffs arrive from mid-March and the Willow Warblers are three or four weeks later.

Some Blackcaps now overwinter in this blackcap_malecountry and in spring these are joined by birds coming in from southern blackcap_femaleEurope. Both sexes have a greyish appearance but the male has a black ‘cap’ and the female a rusty brown ‘cap’. Another bird to look out for is the Whitethroat, coming all the way from southern Africa they usually appear at the beginning of May. As its name suggests the throat area of these birds is white often extending down to the breast. whitethroat_maleAll these birds can be seen regularly on the Magog Downs in summer, the Whitethroats singing on the tops of the hedgerows.

There are many ‘sayings’ as to when the first Cuckoos arrive from tropical Africa. The end of April, beginning of May, seems to be about right. cuckoo_male_in_flightAs we all know female Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. The birds most often chosen are Reed Warblers or Meadow Pipits. The female will perch and observe her ‘victim’ watching for one with a nest. At an opportune moment she will fly in and lay a single egg. This egg will have a similar colouration to those already in the nest. When the chick hatches its first instinct is to remove any other chicks and all the remaining eggs. This ensures that the young Cuckoocuckoo_juvenile receives all the food and attention and it grows very quickly. It is hard to imagine that in just a couple of months it will be strong enough to make the journey back to Africa. There used to be a cuckoo on the Recreation Ground whose call could be heard from a distance. Sadly, the tree that it favoured was cut down, it didn’t take up residence the following year and now we rarely hear a cuckoo in Stapleford.

In gardens now one sees the Robins much more tolerant of each other as males and females begin to pair up ready to nest. Similarly Blackbirds will start searching for nest sites. Hopefully Great and Blue Tits will be seen starting to make use of the garden nest boxes, collecting and bringing in nesting material.

There will be many more summer migrants to look out for as the weather warms up.

Derek Gibbs

Birds on Magog Down

We publish the monthly reports of Stapleford Bird club here, plus other occasional bird-related articles; hot links in each report will take you to the RSPB information page for each bird spotted.

The gallery below shows a random six of the birds that have been seen on Magog Down.

  • Robin.jpg
  • Blue tit.jpg
  • Yellowhammer.jpg
  • buzzard in flight.jpg
  • Magpie.jpg
  • Skylark.jpg