Birds in Scrooby

Introduction

Ed Marshall

Talk given to Scrooby Gardening Club August 2008

You may see around sixty species of bird in a typical garden in Scrooby, with around one hundred species within a twenty minute walk diameter of the village.

We will cover:

  • Equipment which may help you
  • How to recognise bird species
  • Bird species commonly seen in Scrooby.

Equipment

If you are interested in taking up bird watching, you should invest in a good set of binoculars. Binoculars with 42mm lens are ideal. Also, the binoculars should be marked Z. This denotes that the lens are further apart than your eyes, yielding the benefit that as the light is gathered to your pupils there is a slight stereoscopic effect which counters the foreshortening effect of magnification. Binoculars with around five times magnification ratio are ideal. Binoculars with greater than eight times magnification are too shaky to be used while held in the hand. Binoculars with less than five times magnification do not let enough light into the lens to enable identification of colour and markings.

To encourage birds to visit your garden, put out peanuts, loose seed, niger seed, and bread. It is not harmful to feed birds year round, as used to be thought. There is a general scarcity of wild food for birds.


Recognition

There are four cues to recognition of bird species.

Size

When attempting to recognise a bird, size is the first cue. It is useful to think of relative size, rather than an absolute measurement. Try to peg the bird in relation to this scale of bird sizing:

  • Swan
  • Heron
  • Pigeon
  • Blackbird
  • Sparrow
  • Wren

Habitat

Is the bird a tree dweller, or a water bird, for example?

Features

Does the bird have a distinctive feature such as a bright yellow beak or a long tail?

Song

Bird song can be distinctive. Song is particularly common during the breeding season, when birds advertise for a mate, and defend territory.


Common Birds

RobinThe robin is the only bird singing in September, when it is already territorial in anticipation of next Spring's breeding season. It also sings through the night. It is a member of the thrush family. It is not possible to distinguish the male from the female on looks.
Collared DoveThe collared dove has been in the UK for around twenty years; its arrival and spread being due to natural expansion of the species' territory. The collared dove breeds year round.
StarlingA group of starlings can usually be seen at Hawk's Nest to the north of Scrooby around 4pm on December and January evenings.
BlackbirdFemale blackbird if light brown, the male blackbird is black.
GreenfinchStarts singing in early April.
Chaffinch
DunnockFemale dunnock is dominant and has an unusual breeding pattern. The dunnock is not a sparrow, but is sometimes known as the hedgesparrow.
WrenThe wren is the smallest bird in the UK.
Wood PigeonThe wood pigeon is also known as the rock dove.
Blue TitThe blue tit can be encouraged into your garden with peanuts.
Great TitThe great tit is recognisable by its black cap and throat. The great tit sings in January.
Coal TitThe coal tit is recognisable by the white stripe on its neck and back. The coal tit will not stay on nuts, but visit and leave quickly.
Long Tail TitWhile other tits are usually seen in pairs, the long tail tit flocks. The long tail tit is currently becoming more common in Scrooby. The long tail tit constructs a domed nest from more than three thousand pieces of building material.
House SparrowThere are around twenty-four house sparrows in Scrooby. The nesting sites of the house sparrow are increasingly threatened as house exteriors become tidier.
Tree SparrowThe tree sparrow has a brown head. There are about fifteen tree sparrows in Scrooby.
Song ThrushesThe song thrush is doing well in Scrooby. The song thrush eats snails, breeds two or three times a year, and sings from halfway down trees.
GoldfinchThe goldfinch is recognisable by the red stripe across its eyes. The goldfinch is a flocking bird.
SiskinSiskins are seen in Scrooby most winters. They are reminiscent of a small spotty goldfinch.
RookThe rook is very common in Scrooby.
Pye Wag TailThe pye wag tail is a fairly rare bird we are lucky to have in Scrooby.
Mistle ThrushThe mistle thrush is bigger version of the song thrush.
Mallard Duck
Greater Spotted WoodpeckerThe male greater spotted woodpecker has red on the back of his head, while the female has none.
Sparrow HawkThe sparrow hawk has a rusty coloured front and grey back.
GullBlack head in summer only, white head in winter.
Heron
MagpieThe magpie eats wildlife such as frogs.
JayThe jay is unusual in Scrooby, which is odd. More would be expected.
EgretEgrets have moved into the UK in the last ten years. They can be seen on the wetland to the north of Scrooby, for example at Newington.
Night JarThe night jar can be seen on the wetland to the north of Scrooby, for example at Thorne, and to the south west of Scrooby at Budby.
NightingaleThe nightingale is not a common bird in Nottinghamshire.

Winter Birds in Scrooby

Red Wing
Green Shank
Field FairThe field fair is the same size as the mistle thrush, with a yellow spotted front. The field fair is seen in flocks.
Grey Wag Tail
Golden PloverThe golden plover is seen in fields, not gardens. There are around two hundred in the fields to the north of Scrooby beyond the Winz and to the south of Scrooby beyond the quarry. The golden plover relocates to the high moors in Summer.

Summer Birds in Scrooby

Sand MartinThe sand martin may be seen in the quarry to the south of Scrooby. They arrive around the last week in March. Scrooby Top quarry has the largest colony of sand martins in Nottinghamshire.
Chiff ChaffThe chiff chaff is the first arrival of summer. It may be seen on the Mill Field, along Mill Lane.
Willow WarblerThe willow warbler is nearly identical with the chiff chaff, except for its song.
Swallow
Yellow Wag TailYellow wag tails may be seen in the quarry to the south of Scrooby.
White ThroatsWhite Throats may be seen on the hawthorn bushes on and near the Winz in Scrooby.
House MartinThe house martin is blue with a white vent. The house martin nests under the eaves of houses.
SwiftAlthough common in Tickhill and other nearby villages, the swift is not common in Scrooby.
Spotted Fly CatcherThe spotted fly catcher can seen nesting in Mill House, Low Road during Summer.
Black Cap

Owls in Scrooby

Tawny OwlThe tawny owl is the commonest owl in Scrooby. The tawny owl has a distinctive loud hooting call. The owl hunts during the day.
Short Eared OwlThe short eared owl hunts during the day.
Barn OwlThe barn owl hunts at dusk on the grassland on the east side of the East Coast Mainline railway. The barn owl has a white face and front.
Little OwlThe little owl is around thrush-sized.
Long Eared OwlThe long eared owl hunts at dusk. The long eared owl is a big bird, without the white markings of the barn owl.

Bawtry Rooks

April 2010: The rooks have returned to their nests in the tree tops above Bawtry Hall. The rookery on South Parade in Bawtry is impressively large, busy and noisy. Pairs of rooks can be seen remaking and re-inhabiting the tangles of sticks of previous years, perched in the uppermost branches of the trees. Some nests are contentious; with paired rooks fighting brutally over the territory, dualling and tumbling through the branches to the ground.