The Commons are home to a huge variety of bird species and, as well as those feeding here, there are regularly between 90 and a 100 additional species to be seen.
We are incredibly lucky that local volunteers have kept records of bird sightings on the Commons since 1974. These are currently compiled by Dave Wills and before him by Ron Kettle and Eric McMillan. Copies of all these records are available at the Ranger’s Office.
The variety of habitats gives us a wide diversity of species, including tree-, hole- and ground-nesters, wildfowl and birds of prey.
Given that we are essentially in an urban setting, and that the Commons are widely used for a lot of activities, the number of species we see here is excellent.
The biggest impact on birds of activities on the Commons is on the ground-nesting birds. But this year we have been fortunate to have three species of ground-nesting birds: Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler and, to our great delight, 2015 has seen the return of a pair of breeding Skylarks. Our staff, championed by the Wildlife and Conservation group, have worked hard over the last few years to get the Plain into a condition to attract Skylarks back to the Commons, so to see that work come to fruition in the last couple of years has been amazing.
Birds of prey have also been increasing. 2014 saw at least 6 pairs of Kestrels, and Sparrow-hawks, Hobbys and Common Buzzards can regularly be seen - the latter we think will soon start to nest here - if they haven’t already done so. The main species of Owl tends to be the Tawny. They are elusive creatures but if you are on the Commons at dusk, you will hear them hooting and possibly see them as they hunt.
A guide to the birds of the Commons
Copies of the 2015 Commons' Bird Lists are available from the Ranger's Office for just £4 or can be downloaded here