Birds of the Clough

Hough End Clough – Breeding Bird Survey 2013

Method: Very similar to that used in 2012. The Clough was traversed on foot on May 21st in the morning and all species that were singing were recorded. The area covered included the wooded area along Chorlton Brook and Red Lion Brook. Also included were the small plantations lying north of Red Lion Brook. The process was repeated on June 1st in order to ascertain which of the birds recorded on May 21st were holding a territory. Other evidence of breeding was also collected during the breeding season (see below).

Territorial singing males
Wren:12-14, Dunnock:1, Blackcap:2-5, Chiffchaff:2, Whitethroat:1, Robin:5-9, Song Thrush:1, Mistle Thrush:2, Blackbird:4-7, Chaffinch:1-2, Greenfinch:2, Bullfinch:1, Collared Dove:0-1

Evidence of breeding

In early May, a pair of Long-tailed Tits were observed collecting food for young and disappearing into a bramble bush. Recently fledged Great tits, Robins and Magpies were seen in June. Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow were observed sitting on nests in Lower Clough.

Kingfisher: pair in territory since March with 3 birds squabbling on March 18th; nested in the same bank as in 2011 and 2012. The nest was deserted around May 18th and is thought to have been predated. After the Environment Agency cleared vegetation near the nest hole in early July, scratch marks were noticed in the bank below the nest hole.

Mallard:  Three broods of one, two and four young were seen. At least two of these ducklings survived to adulthood.

Sparrowhawk: A pair were observed copulating on April 15th, adults were seen carrying food into the clough in July and at least one juvenile was seen in early August.

Nest Boxes

During the winter of 2012 / 2013, Friends of Hough End cleaned out and reinstalled several nest boxes in the Clough. At least five of these are known to have been used by Blue or Great Tits. Two boxes in the nearby allotments are also known to have been used by Blue Tits.

Other sightings

Swallows and House Martins were regularly seen feeding over the Clough. About six pairs of Swallows bred at the Police Stables, some having two or three broods. There were nine active House Martin nests in Caistor Close and two in Mauldeth Road West. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen regularly – one pair bred nearby on the Fallowfield Loop Cycletrack. Stock Doves were seen regularly and were often observed feeding on the allotments. A pair was confirmed breeding nearby on the Cycletrack. Ring-necked Parakeets were seen or heard occasionally – a pair bred at the nearby Weller Woodland.

Other species recorded during the period April – June (but without any strong evidence of breeding in the Clough) included Grey Heron,  Feral Pigeon,  Swift, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Starling, Jay and  Jackdaw. However, it is likely that these species nested nearby and came to feed at the Clough or on the playing fields.

Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Black Headed Gulls, Buzzard, Cormorant, Canada Goose and Meadow Pipit were all observed flying over during April – June. Some April sightings of Fieldfare, Redwing and Siskin are assumed to involve late winter visitors.

Birds of Conservation Concern (RSPB 2011)

Of the species recorded, Song Thrush, House Sparrow and Starling are currently classed as Red Listed. Mallard, Stock Dove, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Dunnock, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Bullfinch are Amber Listed. Kingfisher has special legal protection during the breeding season, as it is a species listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The remaining breeding species are Green Listed (i.e no conservation concern).

Tony O’Mahony

November 2013


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