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
Photo: Skylark (Alauda arvensis) © Garth Peacock 2015
The next meeting of the Stapleford Bird Club will be on Saturday 6th May.
Meet in the car park at 8 am. All welcome, sorry no dogs.
Report of Stapleford Bird Club - February 2017
Due to inclement weather, the February walk was postponed twice and now has been cancelled.
My personal birding at the Down while dog-walking has not been extensive but still rewarding: small flocks of Golden Plover fly over occasionally, the streaky brown Meadow Pipits that favour Colin’s Paddock and the Sheep Paddock are still present in good numbers up to 50 birds (thanks to Christine Leadley for this count), and a female Stonechat continues to grace the South Down. Unusually, about 100 Fieldfares (one of the “winter thrushes”) were seen by a Magog member to descend onto the edge of North Down where a line of hay bales had been present until fairly recently, presumably to feed on invertebrates that had built up in numbers under the bales. These large thrushes are more often seen in the Sheep Fields or Feoffee’s Field.
Numbers of Linnets and other species that rely on seed sources seem to be down somewhat from the previous month but as I have been walking over the Down mostly mid-day to dusk, I may have missed out on birds feeding in the wild bird seed strip at first light. The time of day has to be taken into account when assessing which species – and how many – are present. For instance in November, I witnessed a large flock of 120 finches, mostly Linnets, that were apparently settling into the hedge row at the dogs’ play-field at dusk to roost. Then suddenly a Sparrowhawk hurtled through the upper branches, twisting and turning to catch a bird but it was unsuccessful. And this happened again about 20 minutes later. The Linnets gave up and departed. Records such as over 100 Linnets at dusk, and the tussle with the Sparrowhawk, shows that the Down needs to be walked at all times of day so not to miss the wildlife that it offers.
In January’s report I mentioned that the Yellowhammer (song: “a little bit of bread and no cheese”) is a Red-listed bird according to BOCC, the Birds of Conservation Concern. Most UK birds are, according to their breeding populations, categorised as being in a Red list, Amber list, or Green list: highest concern, moderate concern and least concern respectively. Essentially Red-listed species have been assessed as suffering a severe (at least 50%) decline in UK breeding population over the past 25 years, but other criteria may apply too. Further details can be found on the BTO site and on the RSPB website. Other species on the Red list include Corn Bunting, Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Skylark, Starling, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Nightingale, House Sparrow, Linnet, Yellowhammer, and others.
Trying not to end on a depressing note, more birds are singing now and it will not be long before tits and the Robin start to build nests!