The Friends of Hilly Fields have published a booklet about the birds that use the park. Based on regular surveys, it has pen portraits of all 51 species recorded, a selection of photographs, habitat information, the annual life cycle and advice on how you can help birds. Tom Anderson tells us more.
The ‘bird champion’ project was launched in 2007 by Lewisham Council’s nature conservation team in partnership with the maintenance contractor, Glendale, and the Friends of Hilly Fields. All the surveying and recording has been done by volunteers working with the Friends.
At first, surveys were ad-hoc, but soon the original ‘bird champion’ Keith Ward set up the Hilly Fields Birdwatch blog and began submitting records to BirdTrack, a national monitoring scheme. From October 2011, we surveyed on a monthly basis.
Hilly Fields has a stable population of birds that can be seen or heard on a typical walk through the park: crows, magpies, woodpigeons, great tits, blue tits, starlings, robins, goldfinches and the ubiquitous parakeets.
In addition, there are regular visitors. Our favourites are the little flocks of long-tailed tits, the great spotted woodpecker which drums on tree trunks in late winter and spring, the song and mistle thrushes, the colourful jays and the nuthatches which bred in the park last year.
In spring, we get the migrant warblers – Blackcap and Chiffchaff – and in winter the black-headed and common gulls.
More unusual birds that we’ve seen include redwings which are winter migrants from Scandinavia, coal tits, goldcrests which are Britain’s smallest birds, a little owl, a spotted flycatcher and some impressive birds of prey including kestrel, sparrowhawk and a hobby. These are not everyday visitors, however!
Most of the photographs were taken in the park and the booklet is packed with information. If you want know why you never see baby pigeons, which bird gave its scientific name to a fingertip football game, and how the dunnock enjoys itself during the mating season – this is the book for you.
At present, it can only be ordered online from here: https://supportmylocal.org/store/rachel-mooney/product/birds-of-hilly-fields/. The price is £3.50 and we will deliver to your door within a radius of 2 miles. Postage may have to be paid beyond that. All profits will go to the Friends of Hilly Fields.