Annual Reviews

Each year we now produce an 'Annual Review' for Friends and Members, which incorporates a summary of our formal Year-end Report, plus what we hope are some interesting highlights of the year in question.

The previous few Annual Reviews can be downloaded here:

2018 Annual Review

2017 Annual Review

2016 Annual Review

2015 Annual Review

2014 Annual Review

2013 Annual Review

Members and Friends are sent these annual reviews as soon as they are produced each summer, and have an opportunity to attend our AGM each October and raise any issues.

If you would like to become a Friend, you can read more on our Join Us page, and then complete the application form.

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Feature on the Robin

Robins were in the national news over the summer, with a poll voting them favourite candidate to be the UK's first national bird. As thoughts turn to Christmas, we are pleased to feature this article written by Christine Newell, one of the regulars in Stapleford Bird Group which meets monthly on Magog Down.


The robin

The robin redbreast is one of our most familiar garden birds, and never more so than at Christmas when his image abounds on cards and decorations. He has been associated with Christmas since the 1860s, when postmen wore red tunics and were known as ‘robins’, and the practice of sending greeting cards was becoming popular. A small bird with a feisty character out of proportion to its size, he is a much-loved gardener’s friend as he hops about picking up morsels of food, often perching on garden implements with a confiding air. Numbers increase in winter when European immigrants, which are paler in colour with a yellower breast, join our resident robins. I refer to ‘him’, but it could equally well be ‘her’ as male and female robins cannot be told apart by their colouring.

A robin’s red breast is not used to woo the ladies but solely to intimidate other robins, as the birds are highly territorial. When an intruder appears, the resident will puff up his throat and breast to show as much red as possible to try and frighten the intruder away. In defence of territory, robins have even been known to attack a bunch of red breast feathers fixed on a piece of wire. The robin is one of a few birds which occupy a territory all year round; in summer a mated pair will defend their territory, and in winter males and females each stake out their own territories. Breeding territories are estimated to average about 5500 square metres, while winter territories may be about half that size. Thus an average UK garden is probably not large enough to host a breeding pair of robins unless several gardens together make up the territory, and one is lucky enough to have the nest site in one’s garden. However, in severe winters with food in short supply the boundaries may become looser and several robins may be seen feeding together at a bird table. robin_453

Robins sing throughout the year except for a short period in late summer when they are moulting, and need to stay inconspicuous. They sometimes even sing at night by the light of a streetlamp. Both sexes sing in autumn to mark out their winter territories and the males sing loudly in spring, to defend their territories and attract a mate. Robins pair for the season only; young robins are speckled brown without the red breast, which appears in the autumn when they moult into their adult plumage.

Redbreast “lookalikes” include the robin accentor, a resident of the Himalayas with an orange-red breast. It is in fact related to our dunnock, but it has the habit of twittering quietly to itself at length in the undergrowth much as our robin does.  The well-known American robin, named by the early colonists of the New World as a substitute for the European robin, is roughly the same size as our blackbird, with a brick-red breast.  It is also common in gardens in North America.  On rare occasions it can be seen in Europe as a vagrant.

Robins are not fussy eaters and enjoy a variety of food including beetles, moths, earthworms, earwigs, seeds and fruit. Although they can hardly be described as acrobatic, the lure of food in bird feeders is such that some robins become quite adept at hovering by a hanging feeder, or hanging onto the feeder with one foot while they partake of the tasty contents! Bird tables help to greatly increase survival chances of urban and suburban robins and favourite treats include mealworms, suet, cheese, cake and biscuit crumbs.  The typical lifespan for a robin is two years although some may live for much longer. Fortunately for us, robins have increased greatly in numbers since the mid-1980s and are not currently a conservation concern. Let’s hope that it stays that way.


Article first published in the Stapleford Messenger, January 2015


If you would like to know more about Stapleford Bird Group, there is more information on our Birds on Magog Down page.

Old Newsletters

Up until 2011 we produced a twice-yearly Newsletter, and you can still download copies of some of these here:

pdf_logo_smallSpring/Summer 2011

pdf_logo_smallAutumn/Winter 2010

Spring 2010

Autumn/Winter 2009

Spring 2009

In 2011 the re-designed website was launched, and so the decision was taken to stop producing these Newsletters, and instead to use this website as the main means of communication for news and articles of interest.

This move away from a regular Newsletter meant that more of the Members' and Friends' subscriptions could be spent directly on the costs of upkeep and husbandry on the Down.

We would love every regular visitor to Magog Down to help support its upkeep by becoming a Friend. Read more on our Join Us page, and then complete the application form.