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Report from Stapleford Bird Club - 6th October 2012

Four birdwatchers met on Magog Down on Saturday 6 October. The Down looked magical in the early morning sunshine with a wonderful clarity of light and every surface sparkling like diamonds after the overnight rain. In the car park we saw and heard four chaffinches, two robins, a blackbird, great tit and blackcap. Through the gate onto the North Down a chaffinch 
and two blue tits sat close together on a branch basking in the sun. A further four blue tits were seen in Youth Wood and three skylarks were singing above the down but there were no crows or rooks to be seen.

At the top of the hill we heard two magpies, two robins and a blue tit in the old shelter belt, a crow flew over and possibly a long tailed tit was heard. On Little Trees Hill a crow sat at the top of a tree and a chaffinch was heard. Descending the hill towards Jane’s Piece we had a good view of a male blackcap in the hedge and heard two robins, a dunnock, great tit and chaffinch. A skylark sang and on the path between the parish pit and Feoffee's field a rabbit fed; on the arable field beyond were a large number of pigeons. In the field adjacent to the Feoffee's field we saw six grey partridges close to the hedge and many more pigeons.
Walking down past Villedomer Wood the hedgerows were quiet except for robins; we saw nothing on the telegraph wires or in the hedge below. However we saw three skylarks above the arable field beyond South Down, and had a very good view of a robin sitting in the hedge with its back to us. Its body was silhouetted by the sun so that it was outlined by a rim of white light – beautiful. Three crows were in the arable field and fifty plus pigeons rose from the ground ahead of us. Shortly after we had a very close view of a buzzard as it flew over us.
In Vestey Wood we heard a chaffinch and lots of quiet murmurings that we were unable to identify with certainty but otherwise it was very quiet, as was the path between Memorial Wood and the A1307 (apart from the roar of traffic which seemed particularly noisy), although we heard robins and possibly long-tailed tits. Turning back onto the South Down three crows were sitting on the ground and two jackdaws flew overhead, but again it was quiet. The path between the A1307 and Youth Wood was also very noisy with traffic so it was difficult to hear anything. As we returned to the car park we heard robins again. Apparently at this time of year female robins are laying claim to their territory and certainly robin song seemed to dominate our walk.
We counted sixteen species on our walk but of course this is only a snapshot of birds heard and seen during a two hour walk. The following day I saw a kestrel hovering over the North Down and a dunnock on the ground six feet away from me by Vestey Wood. There is always something to see on the Magog Down and at this time of year it is looking wonderful with the autumnal colours of the trees, the scarlet berries and still quite a few flowers.
Our next meeting is on Saturday 3 November at the later time of 8.30 am in the car park so forget the misery of the coming winter and come and enjoy the beauty of the down on an autumnal morning. You would be very welcome to join us (we normally walk for approximately 2 hours but don’t feel you have to stay that long!).