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

Bird Reports 2015 prev  :  next

Report of Stapleford Bird Club - June 2015

Saturday 6 June was very sunny but with a strong cold wind as seven birdwatchers met in the car park of the Magog Down where we counted three robins, two chaffinches, two magpies, a jackdaw, two great tits and a blackbird. Overhead flew a sparrowhawk, rook and skylark. A dunnock flew across the Picnic Field and two more great tits were heard. In the hedge backing onto the North Down we heard a chiffchaff.

The North Down, covered in oxeye daisies, looked at its best. A kestrel hovered and as we walked further up the hill we saw a second. A couple of skylarks were singing above, two mistle thrushes and a rook flew across. We heard nothing in Youth Wood but in the Old Shelter Belt we heard a blue tit, robin, chaffinch and wren. Looking across the sheep fields (containing some very contented looking sheep) on South Down we counted a dozen rooks but the long grass made it difficult to see birds on the ground. In the gap between the Old Shelter Belt and Little Trees Hill we heard two grey partridges well concealed in the grass. Above was another skylark. Approaching the top of Little Trees Hill we heard a whitethroat and saw a jay while in the Clunch Pit were a blackcap, robin and chaffinch. A fox crossed the bottom of the pit as we listened. Four magpies flew from the Old Shelter Belt towards the car park and as we rounded the corner of Little Trees Hill 30+ rooks, a crow and a jackdaw rose from the ground and circled round.

In the hedge along Jane’s Piece were a wren, robin and whitethroat, two woodpigeons sat on the hedge backing onto the Parish Pit, a skylark was singing above the Feoffees Field and a buzzard flew across in the distance. At the bottom end of the Clunch Pit we heard a chiffchaff, two robins, 2two blackcaps and a skylark. Villedomer Wood and the hedge opposite were very quiet apart from a chaffinch. We briefly saw a yellowhammer on the electricity wires but it was very windy and the birds were lying low! In the hedge running down to Vestey Wood we heard four whitethroats and watched a hare running across our arable field.

In Vestey Wood were a chaffinch, two blackcaps, a blackbird, two wrens and a robin, a rook flew over and in the distance a green woodpecker called. Walking up the hill alongside the A1307 wind and traffic noise meant that we heard little other than a wren and a blackbird. Returning onto the South Down by the beet pad we saw a swift flying over and heard a jackdaw; however, the long grass hid any corvids that are usually there when the sheep are in residence! The new hedge planted last year between the arable field and Downland is growing well and will be a boon to the bird population as it matures. At the top of the hill we heard a chaffinch and on the corner of Haverhill Road and the A1307 we heard two robins, a chaffinch and a magpie.

As we approached the lower end of the Picnic Field we heard a lesser whitethroat which we would not have recognised if our new leader of Stapleford Bird Club, Mike Foley, hadn’t identified it for us! In the Picnic area were two mistle thrushes (probably the same two we saw as we set out) and a magpie. Despite the strong wind we had a good morning and counted 26 species.

As mentioned above Mike Foley, an experienced bird watcher and member of Cambridgeshire Bird Club, has very kindly agreed to take on the leadership of Stapleford Bird Group from July. For more information please contact him on <mfpfoley[at]gmail.com>. We are very grateful that he has volunteered: monitoring the bird life on the Magog Down has been going on since the land was bought and the Trust set up in 1989. The information that has been collected over the last 25 years is a valuable long term record of bird life for the Magog Trust (although we are an independent organisation) and an indicator of whether the Magog Down is attracting and sustaining insects, bird life and small mammals. We look forward to providing feedback on the effects of the new hedgerow, ‘perching trees’ [a.k.a. "Singing Trees"] and crops recently planted by the Trust [under new Common Agricultural Policy rules!] to encourage insect life and provide more food for birds.

If you have never given birdwatching a try do come along on the first Saturday of the month (next meeting on July 4th at 8 am in the car park). We need new members (of any age) from beginners to life time bird watchers to support our new leader. It is a very healthy way of getting fresh air and exercise, relaxing and de-stressing and learning about birds.

I have enjoyed my 3 year stint leading the group (intended only as a stopgap until a new leader came forward!) and will continue to bird watch with the group. Many thanks for the interest that villagers have shown in that time.

                Sue Bradley

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 often seen on Magog Down.

  • Blackbird.jpg
  • Blackcap female.jpg
  • Blackcap male.jpg
  • Blue tit.jpg
  • Chaffinch.jpg
  • Chiffchaff.jpg