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 Club first Saturday meetings under review

The monthly meetings of the Stapleford Bird Club have not taken place since March 2020, because of the Covid-19 epidemic. The walk leader has continued to visit most months, and his reports can be read under our News section.  He hopes to be able to take a group round again before too much longer.

Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

Bird reports 2017 next

2017 Report of a long term survey of breeding birds on Magog Down Stapleford

Bryan Davies and Robin Cox, Cambridgeshire Bird club


This is the sixth annual report of the long term breeding bird survey at Magog Down. Using the same transit as in previous years, records were taken during two visits, the first in April and the second in May (see Table 1). Twenty-nine species were probably breeding on the Down, a number very similar to the long term average of 28.

Wood pigeons continue to be the most abundant species (numbers not recorded) due largely to the widespread growing on farms in the locality of oilseed rape its major food source. Other species well represented were: Robin (13), Blackbird (8), Chaffinch (7), Chiffchaff (7), Wren (7), Blackcap (6), Common Whitethroat (6), Blue Tit (6), Great Tit (6) and Skylark (6).

Of the agricultural birds in steep decline nationally, the Skylark continues to populate the large stretches of Downland grass, the Corn Bunting has returned after absence in 2016, the Song Thrush has recovered its numbers, but only one yellowhammer was recorded. Large numbers of the Corvid family were seen on the sheep pastures attracted by the insects in sheep dung. However most of these species breed elsewhere and it is only the Magpies, Jay and perhaps one or two Carrion Crows which nest in the Trust’s Woodland.

Of the three birds of prey recorded probably only the Kestrel breeds on site. The large expanses of pasture would appear to be suitable for Barn Owls but none have ever been recorded perhaps because of the large numbers of visitors. Tawny owls are unlikely to be recorded during daytime surveys but there is no evidence that these owls are currently resident in the Trust’s Woodlands.

With the likely exception of the Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipit and Bullfinch which probably no longer breed on the Down, all the other birds recorded as breeding appear to have reached an approximate ‘steady state’ both in number of species and numbers of birds of each species. Although lack of sufficient insects for raising chicks is an important limitation in the surrounding agricultural landscape this is probably not a problem on the Down where there is a wide range of plants and habitats for insects to thrive. It is likely that predation by grey squirrels, magpies, raptors, foxes and badgers is the major restriction on bird numbers and lack of suitable habitat the factor limiting the introduction of new species eg Starlings, House and Hedge Sparrows and Stonechats.

Field Visits
Two survey visits were made in 2017: the first on 10th April before summer migrants had arrived and the second on 18th May when the summer migrants had returned. The same survey route was taken as in previous years.

See Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Breeding species recorded at 11 locations
No. of species*
No. of birds
Car Park and Picnic area 8 12
Colin's Wood 8 11
Feoffee's Fields 8 21
Clunch Pits 10 11
Shelter Belt 9 16
Memorial Woods 6 13
Vestey Wood 8 13
Whitethroat Alley 4 9
Villedomer Wood 10 11
Sheep Paddocks 5 26
Arable 1 1
  * excluding Woodpigeons
Table 2: Species probably breeding on Magog Down in 2017
Sites2 Bird Club3
UK Status4
   Blackbird 8 5    
   Song Thrush 4 4   red
   Mistle Thrush 3 2   red
   Robin 13 6    
   Blue tit 6 5    
   Great tit 6 4    
   Long tailed tit 2 1    
   Chaffinch 7 5    
   Goldfinch 3 3    
   Greenfinch 0   1  
   Linnet 3 1    
   Corn bunting 3 3   red
   Yellowhammer 1 1   red
   Blackcap 6 4    
   Chiffchaff 7 5    
   Common Whitethroat 6 3    
   Lesser Whitethroat 0   0  
   Garden Warbler 1   1  
   Willow Warbler5 0   1  
   Skylark 6 3   red
   Carrion Crow 24 3    
   Jackdaw5 10 2    
   Jay     1  
   Magpie 3 3    
   Rook5 6 2    
Crests and Wrens
   Wren 7 7    
   Dunnocks 1 1    
   Grey Partridge 2 1   red
   Red-legged Partridge 1 1    
   Pheasant 1 1    
Pigeons and Doves        
   Woodpigeon [large numbers but not recorded]
Birds of Prey        
   Kestrel     1  
   Sparrowhawk 1 1    
Pipits and Wagtails        
   Pied wagtail     1  
   Great Spotted 1 1    
   Green Woodpecker 2 1    
    1 Sum of the number of birds recorded at each location
    2 See Table 1
    3 Species not recorded in this survey but recorded during Stapleford Bird Club visits March to May.
    4 Species on the UK Red List, ie that have declined by >50% in the last 40 years.
    5 Unlikely to be breeding on Magog Down.

December 2017

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.

  • Pheasant.jpg
  • Jackdaw.jpg
  • Willow warbler.jpg
  • Yellowhammer.jpg
  • Linnet male.jpg
  • Fieldfare.jpg