Watching the waterfowl on Prickend Pond is one of the great pleasures of living in Chislehurst – the mallards dabbling for food, the Canada geese, argumentative and noisy, the more secretive coots and moorhens, busily paddling in and out of the reeds, the tufted ducks, that disappear from view and re-emerge metres away, the exotic Mandarin duck that visits for prolonged periods, the heron, motionless, as it surveys the water, and our Winter visitors, the black-headed gulls. This year two cormorants have joined us, and in the last two or three years we have had visits from an Indian bar-headed goose, a greylag goose and an Egyptian goose.
But have you ever wondered how many other species of bird live on the Commons? The Trustees have a wealth of data about the wildlife that makes its home here, but it needs to be updated regularly, and we have recently been recording the birds identified in different locations on Chislehurst Common. In addition to those already mentioned, the following 18 species were recorded: – Blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, chaffinch, chiff-chaff, crow, great tit, greater spotted woodpecker, grey wagtail, jackdaw, jay, long-tailed tit, magpie, parakeet, pigeon, robin, starling, wren.
This is good news because a variety of bird life is an indicator of a healthy environment. It shows that there are reliable food sources. The dead wood and leaf mould on the woodland floor, the brambles, the seed pods of the gorse, the open grassland, the acorns from the oak trees, are all part of the eco-system that supports not only the birds, but all the other wildlife of the area.
Collecting data over time enables comparisons to be made with past records and with the national picture, and also informs decisions about the management of the area. You may have noticed some new nesting boxes that have been put up, most of which are now occupied. As you might expect, there have been changes in the species recorded in the last 100 years or so, but, at the same time, the woodland has grown up, human activity has increased, and patterns of weather have had an impact.
We know that there are other species of bird living on the Commons, which were not recorded on the days we went out – for example, there was a reliable sighting of a fieldfare this Winter. If you would like to let us know of any you spot, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the species, location, date and time of day.