Spotting tawny owls

Has anybody heard or seen the tawny owl that was spotted in the park three weeks ago? We are hoping it is still here, perhaps with a mate, looking for nest sites.

Tawny owl calls are unmistakeable, the classic too-wit-too-woo, but their camouflage is excellent and they are difficult to spot against a background of tree bark. Here is a short video from YouTube to help with identification.

Contact details, if you have anything to report, are here.

More about tawnies:

This is the robin that sang for the Friends of Southwick Country Park as they hacked their way through the thicket of bramble and blackthorn at the rear of the car park on Tuesday morning.


Our chiffchaffs will already have started the long journey back to their breeding sites in the park. They have overwintered in the warmth of southern Europe or northern Africa and are making their way home in a leisurely way with lots of stops for fuel; the males are the frontrunners and they need to arrive fit enough to find and fight for a territory.

They will begin arriving in March; their song (chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff) is one of the first signs of spring.

Pictures by DKG

Related posts:

The kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) that DKG photographed at the weekend is a female. The male bird has an all black beak while the female’s lower mandible is orange with a black tip.

Kingfishers are highly territorial; they pair up in the winter but keep separate territories until the following spring. It is probable, therefore, that our female has already paired up with a nearby male.

A kingfisher’s territory covers, on average, a kilometre of waterway; our female will be looking for a nesting site either very close to, or in the park. The Lambrok’s steep clay banks may well be perfect.


Kingfisher at last

An excited email from DKG this morning:

” A few photos of our Kingfisher at last. After 5 years of trying to capture photos of the park’s resident kingfisher, yesterday (Sunday 20th) finally produced the photos I had been after. But these came about as usual with no intention of looking for it and if not for Ian, I would have even missed these shots.”

Continue reading “Kingfisher at last”

Bluetit factoid

Most birds can’t create pigments, other than melanin, on their own. This bluetit, high in the park’s canopy, can’t produce the pigment, carotene, that makes his tummy yellow; it comes from pigments in the green caterpillars he eats. The more caterpillars he eats and the brighter his tummy, the more likely he is to attract a mate.

Header picture by DKG; others CC0 from pixabay


Fact of the week

Swan mussels have growth rings on their shells, inside and out, and you can tell a mussel’s age by counting the rings, just like counting the growth rings in a tree trunk.

More about migration

Our willow warblers are among the park’s smallest birds; at 8.7 grams, they are only half the size of a robin. Their migration route, though, is the longest of any of the park’s birds: over 8,000km all the way to sub-Saharan Africa, an astonishing feat of endurance, and in April they will come all the way back to the park.

Willow warbler migration

by keithwlarson (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Another migrator from the spring of 2018:
The Chiffchaffs are back

Winter song

Many of our little songbirds abandon their territories in the winter and flock, sometimes in large numbers; but not the robin. Robins stick to and defend their territories right through the winter and their winter song is part of that defence.

Singing in winter is a high risk strategy. It uses a lot of energy when food resources are low but hanging on to a good territory right through the winter gives a robin an advantage in the spring when the breeding season begins. His winter song is shorter, quieter and altogther smaller than it will be come the spring.

Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries

Wood pigeon

Wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) are our largest and most common pigeon. Gregarious, very adaptable and given to flocking in enormous numbers at this time of year, they are an everyday sight in British towns and countryside.

In towns they seem unafraid but in the park they are shy and wary. Often the first indication that they are there at all is the loud clattering and clapping of their wings as they take off and fly away. Their call is the lovely, familiar background noise of spring and summer.


Water Voles

 There are three species of vole in Britain: the short-tailed or field vole, the bank vole and the water vole, which is the largest of the three and by far the rarest. Water voles (Arvicola amphibius) have experienced one of the most rapid and serious declines of any British wild mammal ever…

Continue reading “Water Voles”

Protecting the Lambrok

In May of 2017, water voles (Arvicola amphibius) were identified by Wiltshire’s Countryside Team as resident in Lambrok Stream. Water voles are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are protected against:

. . .intentional killing, capture or injury and intentional or reckless disturbance, obstruction, damage or destruction of their burrows.

Continue reading “Protecting the Lambrok”

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