See also...

If you are interested in birds, you may also like to read what's on our Birds on Magog Down page.

Bird Club - come and join us!

If you have never given birdwatching a try do come along on the first Saturday of the month (meeting in the car park at 8am from April to October; slightly later at 8.30 am from November to March).

Membership is very informal–– just turn up and enjoy the birding walk. It is a healthy way of getting fresh air and exercise, and de-stressing while learning about birds.

We welcome new members of any age from beginners to life-time bird watchers. Sorry, no dogs

skylark_garth_cropped_250Photo: Skylark (Alauda arvensis) © Garth Peacock 2015

Long-term Survey of Breeding Birds

In February 2012, Bryan Davies and Robin Cox of Cambridgeshire Bird Club proposed a long term breeding bird survey on Magog Down.

Full reports of the first six years of this survey can be found here:

2017 Report

2016 Report

2015 Report

2014 Report

2013 Report

2012 Report

Bird Reports 2015 next

2015 Report of a long term survey of breeding birds on Magog Down Stapleford

Bryan Davies and Robin Cox, Cambridgeshire Bird Club 


This is the fourth annual report of the long term breeding bird survey at Magog Down. Records were made during four visits starting on the 14 April and finishing on the 20 May when summer visitors had all returned. 25 species were probably breeding compared with 26 in 2014, 28 in 2013 and 29 in 2012. However the Stapleford Bird Club recorded five other species during the breeding season indicating that the total number of breeding species may have been 31.

It now seems certain that willow warblers and probably the meadow pipits have been lost from breeding on the Down but Mistle thrush, Corn bunting and Grey partridge are still present albeit in very small numbers. 

Two birds of prey, the Sparrowhawk and the Common Buzzard are probably starting to breed on the Down and the Lesser Whitethroat was recorded for the first time in several years.  A special survey of breeding Skylarks was not undertaken in 2015 which probably accounts for the drop in numbers recorded compared with previous years.

Additional conservation measures introduced since 2014 are nest boxes (see Appendix), trees providing perches for singing birds and in May 2015 a 3 acre strip of bird seed sown in the arable area.  

A tawny owl was seen at the owl box in the Shelter Belt but grey squirrels subsequently took over the box until recently when four squirrels were evicted. Similarly squirrels took over the kestrel box in the Clunch Pit and have been evicted twice.  The bird seed strip attracted large numbers of linnets (50-100) during the winter and small numbers of reed buntings and yellowhammers.

This is the third report of a long term breeding bird survey on Magog Down using the revised field methods described in Appendix 1 of the 2012 Report.

Field Visits
Four recording visits were made in 2015 (14/4, 19/4, 2/5, 20/5) of about 2 hours following the same route on each occasion.   

See Tables1 and 2.

Location No. of species*
No. of birds**
Table 1: Breeding species recorded at 13 locations
Car Park and Picnic area 11 15
Colin's Wood, Roadside, Garden hedges 6 8
Feoffee's Fields and edge of Parish Pit 6 9
Clunch Pits 9 11
Felled wood, shelter belt and Magog Wood 8 11
Sheep paddocks 6 8
Memorial Wood 4 5
Arable field 4 5
Vestey and adjacent mature wood 8 12
Western boundary hedge 4 16
Villedomer Wood 3 3
North Down 8 10
  * excluding Woodpigeons
** Minimum number breeding
Table 2: Species probably breeding on Magog Down in 2015
Sites** Bird Club***
UK Status****
   Blackbird 11 7    
   Song Thrush 1 1   red
   Mistle Thrush - - recorded red
   Robin 9 5    
   Blue tit 3 2    
   Great tit 3 3    
   Long tailed tit 5 1    
   Bullfinch 0 0   amber
   Chaffinch 13 7    
   Goldfinch - - recorded  
   Greenfinch 2 2    
   Linnet 4 2   red
   Corn bunting - - recorded red
   Yellowhammer 4 2   red
   Blackcap 9 7    
   Chiffchaff 3 3    
   Common Whitethroat 6 3    
   Lesser Whitethroat - - recorded  
   Garden Warbler 1 1    
   Skylark 7 4   red
   Carrion Crow 5 2    
   Jay 2 2    
   Magpie 6 5    
Crests and Wrens
   Wren 3 3    
   Dunnocks 3 3    
   Grey Partridge - - recorded red
   Red-legged Partridge - -    
   Pheasant 1 1    
   Great Spotted 1 1    
   Green 2 2    
Pigeons and Doves        
   Woodpigeon [large numbers but not recorded]
Birds of Prey        
   Buzzard 1 1    
   Kestrel 1 1    
   Sparrowhawk 2 1    
Pipits and Wagtails        
   Pied wagtail 1 1    
    * Sum of the greatest number of birds recorded at each location
  ** See Table 1
 *** Species not recorded in our survey but noted during Stapleford Bird Club visits March to May.
*** Species on the UK Red List have declined by >50% in the last 40 years, and on the Amber List have declined by 25-49%.


Check of nest boxes at Magog Down  January 2016

Youth Wood 8 January – numbered from southern end of central walk

  1. Successful blue tit nest*
  2. No nest
  3. Roost only**
  4. Successful blue tit nest
  5. Roost only, top lid on ground
  6. No nest
  7. Successful great tit nest***
  8. Roost only
  9. Partial/unsuccessful great tit nest

Rotary Wood

  1. Partial/unsuccessful great tit nest
  2. Box on ground**** used by wood mouse to store food

Colins Wood – section upslope of Wandlebury footpath

  1. Successful Blue/Great tit* nest
  2. Box on ground containing an unsuccessful Great tit nest
  3. Box on ground used by mouse
  4. Box on ground with no nest

The three displaced boxes have been fixed on trees in same row upslope of Box 1.

Colins Wood – top end

  • 4 nest boxes all on the ground one containing an unsuccessful tit nest.
  • The 4 boxes have been re-sited on trees, with logs marking the positions at downland edge of wood.

    Villedomer Wood
  • 5 boxes on central ‘badger’ path,
  • only two in place one with a partial/unsuccessful tit nest,
  • remainder on ground; a wood mouse escaped from one of these boxes.
  • The 3 displaced boxes were secured with screws penetrating through the back of the box.

* nest flattened by sitting bird not containing large amounts of moss
**  boxes containing only faecal pellets
***  flattened nest containing large amounts of moss
**** tree growth had caused heads of fixing screws to be pulled into tree causing the box to fall

Tawny Owl box in Magog Wood – 4 grey squirrels evicted during cleaning
Kestrel box in Clunch pit – 5 grey squirrels evicted during cleaning.

Birds on Magog Down

We publish the monthly reports of Stapleford Bird club here, plus other occasional bird-related articles; hot links in each report will take you to the RSPB information page for each bird spotted.

The gallery below shows a random six of the birds that have been seen on Magog Down.

  • Linnet male.jpg
  • Fieldfare.jpg
  • Magpie.jpg
  • Long tailed tit.jpg
  • Great tit.jpg
  • Goldcrest.jpg