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Report from Stapleford Bird Club - 11th August 2012

Seven birdwatchers met on a warm, sunny morning on 11 August and spent a rather quiet couple of hours trying to find some birds. In the car park we heard a robin and saw a crow and magpie flying over. Walking up the hill past Youth Wood we saw a blackbird but neither heard nor saw any sign of skylarks and due to the length of the grass could not see any crows or rooks on the downland. However we heard a blue tit and great tit and as we reached the top of the hill two crows flew over and two red legged partridges were spotted flying in the distance. As we crossed the top of the hill we heard a jay and robin in Magog Wood, another magpie flew over and six crows. Looking down from Little Trees Hill towards the car park we saw four magpies on the path near the footpath marker in the middle of the Downs.

As we reached the bowl barrow we heard a greenpecker calling from the clunch pit and saw two kestrels flying above us and calling to each other while a third was heard down the hill in the direction of Colin’s Wood. One of the sharper-eyed members spotted that they were a parent flying with its young while the other parent was keeping in touch a short distance away. This was the most eventful part of our morning!

Coming back down the hill towards Jane’s Piece and the Feoffees field there was silence in the hedgerows but a number of rooks and crows and a pigeon were seen in the field and a swallow flew over. More magpies were seen (possibly some that we had counted earlier?) and two blackbirds.
 
As we walked from Little Trees Hill past the south down to the telegraph posts all was quiet and we saw nothing on the wires or on the hedge below. Nor did we see or hear skylarks on the south down, arable fields or the fields beyond the hedge.  Usually the hedgerow leading down to Vestey Wood is a good place to find birds but there was nothing until we reached Vestey Wood where we heard two yellowhammers and spotted one of them sitting at the top of a tree. We saw more swallows flying around Vestey Wood and the path along the bottom proved rather more rewarding as we heard blackbirds, a blackcap, robin, chaffinch, blue tit and great tit.
 
Walking back up the path beside the road and Memorial Wood again it was very quiet until we reached the south down where the sheep were grazing. There we saw five magpies sitting in a row, each perched on a fence post, and a few rooks and crows, but there were no jackdaws. Returning to the car park between the road and Youth Wood it was devoid of birds and we saw nothing in the picnic area. However, as a final treat, just as we were leaving a couple of goldfinches flew over.
 
In all we recorded a total of only sixteen species but it was a beautiful morning, the down looked very attractive with its wildflowers, in particular the clumps of wild marjoram and clustered bellflower, and we also spotted dragonflies and butterflies: all in all an enjoyable morning.
 
If you would like to join us next time we will be meeting at 8am on 1 September in the car park.    
 
Sue Bradley