Sunday, 3 June 2012

May Bird Survey

The late May heatwave was still in progress when Sue and I did our monthly bird survey on Tuesday 29th. The park was looking good in the sunshine even though all the beautiful white blossom on the Hawthorns and Horse Chestnuts has disappeared. The birds were lying low at first, so much so that we started to count the Speckled Wood butterflies instead, except there were too many of them!

Then we had a surprise - a constant high-pitched noise heard behind Prendergast School turned out to be coming from a hole high up in some kind of ornamental oak tree. The arrival at the hole of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker and then soon after a female confirmed that we had found a nest with hungry woodpecker fledglings. They couldn't be seen from ground level, so numbers are uncertain but we will be keeping an eye on the nest. There are normally between five to seven eggs in a GSW brood, but eggs and fledglings can be taken by other birds while the parents are out hunting for food. While we were there, the female was seen at a tree some thirty yards away, presumably digging insects out of the bark.

Male and female GSWs. Female has no red patch on back of  head, but does have red under the tail like the male
Sue also found a Blue Tit nest in a dead tree near the tennis courts. One of the parents was in attendance while we watched. Apart from that excitement, we noted a slight revival in the number of Starlings, ten being spotted together at one point. Otherwise the following birds were seen and/or heard, all in small numbers: Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, House Sparrow, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Wren, Robin and Ring-necked Parakeet.

A few days earlier (25th), Sue spotted three Pied Wagtails on the bowling green and then witnessed a Sparrowhawk swoop down on them! All three appeared to evade capture.

Woodpecker Update: the picture below was taken by my daughter on Saturday afternoon (2 June) and shows one of the fledglings peeping out of the hole. The crimson crown on top of its head will disappear with its first moult. Hopefully, it's not an only child...


  1. We have a female GSW at our peanut feeder several times a day and a male occasionally. They fly off in the general direction of the school, about 300m away, so they could be the same family.

    1. Could well be, Keith. Do you think they're eating the nuts themselves to keep energy levels up or taking them to the young?