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Report from Stapleford Bird Club - 1st August 2009

Fourteen birders assembled in Magog Down car park on August 1st for the monthly bird walk. It was overcast but dry although rather humid. Before we had even set off, we had logged magpie (five), greenfinch (four), long-tailed tit (seven), lesser black-backed gull( 90 plus) and heron.

As we entered the North Down, the contrast with last month could not have been more stark. The clouds of butterflies and numerous birds of the July walk had disappeared – the long grass had mostly been cut. A solitary skylark, the only record of the morning, flew low over the down. It is sad that cutting in mid-July may have destroyed a number of nests of ground nesting birds such as the pair of willow warbler we observed on the July walk, and later broods of skylark.

We pressed on past Youth and Magog Woods seeing very little apart from a wren (three). On the set-aside land by Jane's Piece, there was a hawk on the ground which at first was thought to be an immature sparrowhawk. We debated this for a while but later we saw the same bird again in the air and identified it correctly as an immature kestrel (two). It must be said that it did have unusually rounded wing tips reminiscent of a sparrowhawk, but it hovered and that clinched it. This area also produced the only swallow of the morning.

Further south, where the oil-seed rape had been harvested, we had numerous lesser black-backed gulls with a few black-headed gulls (eleven). On the South Down, the presence of sheep resulted in mixed flocks of Corvids, including rook (fifty plus), jackdaw (twenty) and a few crow. We recorded 22 species in all, including green woodpecker, chaffinch (seventeen), linnet (four) and goldfinch. In addition, we saw a number of butterflies including Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Comma and Painted Lady.