A detailed survey of breeding birds at Rawcliffe Meadows has just been completed and provides a mixed picture. Twenty-three species bred or probably did so. Resident hedgerow and woodland-edge birds are mostly doing well with very healthy populations of Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Robin and Blackbird. Less common species such as Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit and Bullfinch have smaller populations but there was no confirmation of breeding Song Thrush, which is seriously declining nationally. Amongst the colonial finches, Goldfinch and Greenfinch probably bred in small numbers along with one or two pairs of Linnet – a new breeding bird for the site. Worryingly, only two pairs of Reed Buntings were identified: there had been up to five in recent years, and numbers on Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings also seem to be down this year. More positively, ten pairs of Tree Sparrow were estimated, though this bird is remarkably elusive when nesting – we suspect most of ours use dense thickets rather than nest boxes or natural tree holes (up to three boxes have, however, been occupied in the Copse).
Summer migrant warblers had a poor season with the exception of Blackcaps, which have held seven or eight territories following a strong spring passage. Willow Warblers were scarce and passed quickly through in April and only a single Chiffchaff territory has been held for long enough to indicate breeding. There have been no records at all of Sedge or Reed Warblers so far this year.
|Species||Number of territories (maximum in brackets)|
|Great Tit||21 (25)|
|Blue Tit||17 (18)|
Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Magpie also bred on or adjacent to the survey area but numbers were not estimated.
The final report is available as a 25 page PDF (4 Mb) upon request. We will be using the information within it to improve our management. We’d also like to ask people to provide any sightings, particularly of owls, to assist management.