Returning chiffchaffs

Has anybody heard our chiffchaffs yet? This is the time of year when they come back from the Mediterranean and Africa to nest in the park and their unmistakeable call is a welcome sign that spring is here. Message or email us if you have heard them .

All these pictures were taken in the park by DKG.

The Eurasian collared dove, Streptopelia decaocto, seems ubiquitous: one of the park’s noisiest and most common species. But it wasn’t always so.

How come?


At this time of year, the reserve’s blue tits are looking for nest holes in our old trees. The ash tree at Fiveways harbours a nest every year and the newly fenced oak near at the bottom of the Arboretum seems to have attracted more than one pair already.

Here is a video of a female blue tit building a nest while, outside, the male guards the site from marauders and thieves.

Video from The Nest Box
Header picture by Simon Knight

Birdlife in an Old Oak

By Ian Bushell

I nipped up to the park this morning to see how the contractor was getting on with the chestnut fencing around the Oak we have been clearing in the Arboretum, near the entrance. Spring is just around the corner and some of the lives that the old Oak supports were evident.

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Rooks in February

Before the end of February, the nature reserve’s rooks will have started collecting building materials for their nests. Here is a video that shows us what kind of behaviour to look out for:

Video by Film Studio Aves;
Header picture (CC0)

It might be cold but the robin at Fiveways is still singing.

Both pictures of the Fiveways robin were taken by DKG in 2019.
Recording by Beatrix Saadi-Varchmin CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Our barn owls are back

Sharon Vincent posted on our Facebook page:

Sharon Vincent: Thought you might like to know we saw a barn owl flying across the Village Green field at about 11am this morning. No photo as I was so excited I forgot to grab my phone, & it was gone quite quickly!

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Blue tit

by Simon Knight

Along with everything else going on in the world, I was beginning to find the recent dull weather slightly depressing. I have also found it frustrating from a photography point of view, as I only like to take pictures in good light, and you don’t get good light without the sun! The recent dullness has been especially frustrating as I have had a new lens to test which needs good light for me to be able to get the best out of it. 

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There is a family of Eurasian wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) sharing a winter territory in the copse to the north east of the big pond. Have you seen them?

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On the twelfth day of Christmas

The park’s twelve drummers drumming are great spotted woodpeckers. They begin drumming at the end of winter as part of a courtship ritual in which the male marks out his territory and advertises his presence by drumming his beak against hollow wood 10 to 20 times in just 2 seconds, and the females replies briefly as she enters his territory.

Here is a video:

Video recorded in March 2019 by George Ewart

On the seventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me seven swans a-swimming.

Mute swans (Cygnus olor) come to the park to graze, not to swim or raise chicks. They break their long journey to some faraway lake or river, to rest and eat in the park’s green fields. We are a swan service station.

Four calling birds

Not calling birds, according to the experts, but colly birds. Colly is an old word for soot or coal dust and a colly bird is a blackbird. We have tuneful blackbirds by the dozen in the park.

Audio by Beatrix Saadi-Varchmin (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Christmas robins

A Christmas Eve gallery of the park’s robins, photographed by DKG.

Not a partridge in a pear tree…

but a wood pigeon in a willow tree.

A wood pigeon in a willow tree, fluffed up against the cold of Wednesday’s bright, frosty morning.

Clever corvid

Here’s a clever carrion crow (Corvus corone) bringing a piece of dried bread, from a bird table somewhere in Studley Green, to soak it in our pond until it is soft enough to eat.

The winter thrushes

Fieldfare (Turdus pilarus) and redwing (Turdus musicus), migratory thrushes from mainland Europe, are common winter visitors to the park. They are easily confused; here is a video to help you distinguish the two species.

Header picture: Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) by Teresa Reynolds (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tu-whit tu-whoo

Thanks to Sarah Gould for reminding us that the tawny owl’s classic tu-whit tu-whoo noise is, in fact, made by two birds in conversation.

Click for audio

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