Heritage and wildlife in our cemeteries
Birdlife in our cemeteries
Below are some of the different types of birdlife that frequent our cemeteries:
Magpie - The Eurasian magpie or common magpie (Pica pica) is a resident breeding bird throughout Europe, much of Asia and northwest Africa.
The Eurasian magpie is one of the most intelligent birds, and it is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all animals.] The expansion of its nidopallium is approximately the same in its relative size as the brain of chimpanzees, orangutans and humans.
House Sparrow - Noisy and gregarious, these cheerful exploiters of man's rubbish and wastefulness, have managed to colonize most of the world. The ultimate avian opportunist perhaps. Monitoring suggests a severe decline in the UK house sparrow population, recently estimated as dropping by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008 with substantial declines in both rural and urban populations. Whilst the decline in England continues, Breeding Bird Survey data indicate recent population increases in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Carrion Crow - The all-black carrion crow is one of the cleverest, most adaptable of our birds. It is often quite fearless, although it can be wary of man. They are fairly solitary, usually found alone or in pairs. The closely related hooded crow has recently been split as a separate species. Carrion crows will come to gardens for food and although often cautious initially, they soon learn when it is safe, and will return repeatedly to take advantage of whatever is on offer.
Woodpigeon – The UK's largest and commonest pigeon, it is largely grey with a white neck patch and white wing patches, clearly visible in flight. Although shy in the countryside it can be tame and approachable in towns and cities. Its cooing call is a familiar sound in woodlands as is the loud clatter of its wings when it flies away.
Starling - Smaller than blackbirds, with a short tail, pointed head, triangular wings, starlings look black at a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens. Their flight is fast and direct and they walk and run confidently on the ground. Noisy and gregarious, starlings spend a lot of the year in flocks. Still one of the commonest of garden birds, its decline elsewhere makes it a Red List species.
Great Tit – The largest UK tit - green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a birdtable, fighting off smaller tits. In winter it joins with blue tits and others to form roaming flocks which scour gardens and countryside for food.
Wren - The wren is a tiny brown bird, although it is heavier, less slim, than the even smaller goldcrest. It is dumpy, almost rounded, with a fine bill, quite long legs and toes, very short round wings and a short, narrow tail which is sometimes cocked up vertically. For such a small bird it has a remarkably loud voice. It is the commonest UK breeding bird, although it suffers declines during prolonged, severely cold winters.
Chaffinch - The chaffinch is the UK's second commonest breeding bird, and is arguably the most colourful of the UK's finches. Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes most obvious when it flies, revealing a flash of white on the wings and white outer tail feathers. It does not feed openly on bird feeders - it prefers to hop about under the bird table or under the hedge. You'll usually hear chaffinches before you see them, with their loud song and varied calls.
Blue Tit - A colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green makes the blue tit one of our most attractive and most recognisable garden visitors. In winter, family flocks join up with other tits as they search for food. A garden with four or five blue tits at a feeder at any one time may be feeding 20 or more.
Blackbird - The males live up to their name but, confusingly, females are brown often with spots and streaks on their breasts. The bright orange-yellow beak and eye-ring make adult male blackbirds one of the most striking garden birds. One of the commonest UK birds, its mellow song is also a favourite.
Song Thrush - A familiar and popular garden songbird whose numbers are declining seriously, especially on farmland making it a Red List species. Smaller and browner than a mistle thrush with smaller spotting. Its habit of repeating song phrases distinguish it from singing blackbirds. It likes to eat snails which it breaks into by smashing them against a stone with a flick of the head.
Black Cap - A distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name 'northern nightingale'. Although primarily a summer visitor birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.
Robin - The UK's favourite bird - with its bright red breast it is familiar throughout the year especially at Christmas. Males and females look identical, and young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown. Robins sing nearly all year round and despite their cute appearance, they are aggressively territorial and are quick to drive away intruders. They will sing at night next to street lights.
Dunnock - A small brown and grey bird. Quiet and unobtrusive, it is often seen on its own, creeping along the edge of a flower bed or near to a bush, moving with a rather nervous, shuffling gait, often flicking its wings as it goes. When two rival males come together they become animated with lots of wing-flicking and loud calling.
Jackdaw - This is a small, black crow with a distinctive silvery sheen to the back of its head. The pale eyes are also noticeable.
Goldcrest - With the firecrest, the goldcrest is the UK's smallest bird. They're dull greyish-green with a pale belly and a black and yellow stripe on their heads, which has an orange centre in males. Their thin beak is ideally suited for picking insects out from between pine needles.
Treecreeper – The treecreeper is small, very active, bird that lives in trees. It has a long, slender, downcurved bill. It is speckly brown above and mainly white below. It breeds in the UK and is resident here. Birds leave their breeding territories in autumn but most range no further than 20 km. Its population is mainly stable.
Swift - The swift is a medium-sized aerial bird, which is a superb flier. It evens sleeps on the wing! It is plain sooty brown, but in flight against the sky it appears black. It has long, scythe-like wings and a short, forked tail. It is a summer visitor, breeding across the UK, but most numerously in the south and east. It winters in Africa.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker - About blackbird-sized and striking black-and-white. It has a very distinctive bouncing flight and spends most of its time clinging to tree trunks and branches, often trying to hide on the side away from the observer. Its presence is often announced by its loud call or by its distinctive spring 'drumming' display. The male has a distinctive red patch on the back of the head and young birds have a red crown
Tawny Owl - The tawny owl is an owl the size of a pigeon. It has a rounded body and head, with a ring of dark feathers around its face surrounding the dark eyes. It is mainly reddish brown above and paler underneath. It is a widespread breeding species in England, Wales and Scotland but not found in Ireland. Birds are mainly residents with established pairs probably never leaving their territories. Young birds disperse from breeding grounds in autumn
The habitat within most of our cemeteries is ideal for:
Nuthatches – who love small wooded
Redwing/Fieldfare – it is 99% certain that these winter visitors use the cemeteries at some point during the winter period - the large grass areas in the cemetery are ideal for Thrushes in general.
Sparrowhawk – although not seen it is a certainty that they will breed in the immediate area so would occasionally visit the cemetery to hunt for songbirds.
During the summer period there is a possible chance of seeing a passing Chuff Chaff or Willow Warbler singing for a day or two or maybe even staying to breed, Also during the winter period a Siskin may be seen as the habitat is ideal for them.
You may be lucky to see the Long Tailed Tit and the Coal Tit,
Bird boxes are erected in our cemeteries to encourage other species of birds.
Also to be found in some of our cemeteries
- Grey Squirrels