It would be great to build up a definitive picture of the birds of St Andrews Park in order that we can enhance their habitat and attract even more species. Lots of birds either breed in the park, visit the park in winter or pass through on spring and autumn migration, so I will be undertaking a survey to see just what's out there.

Collecting 'archive' sightings from other birdwatchers and users of the park will help fill in the gaps, so please feel free to tell me what birds you have seen and heard over the years. One lucky observer saw a Woodcock twice last winter - this is normally a rare bird, but it does have an endearing habit of turning up at strange places in urban Bristol during cold weather, so who knows what other ornithological delights lie in wait?

I will keep you posted on my sightings both here and on my Wild Monty site, and I hope others will share their observations. Don't be shy, and don't assume that you should only mention the unusual birds - many of the species we take for granted (like House Sparrows and Starlings) have declined alarmingly over the last twenty years or so, so every record is important.

I'll be happy to lead various bird walks around the park at different seasons for those who want to know more, so let me know if you are interested. In the meantime, happy birdwatching!

Des

www.wildmonty.co.uk

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It will be good to have a definitive list of birds seen in the park, but although records like those for the Woodcock are interesting, I think we should concentrate our efforts on encouraging regular visitors and species that might find the park suitable for nesting and rearing young. This is why the old established sections of hedge around the periphery and the newly planted stretches need to be managed in a way that shows awareness of and sensitivity to the requirements of nesting birds. I am not particularly knowledgeable about specific needs but am sure that any cutting regime should try and develop variation in hedge height, leaving some sections completely untrimmed each year. I expect the RSPB would be able to offer advice or already have printed guidance on this.

Best wishes and good to have met you the other evening,

Simon Randolph
Good points Simon. Of course breeding species are a priority and really define the nature conservation value of the park. I'd like to think of the park as a feeding resource for wintering birds like Redwings and Fieldfares as well, which tend to have a hard time of it in some winters.

Other than that, I promise not to get too 'twitchy'!

Regards

Des
Yes, encouraging winter visitors also v. important. That's really why I wanted to clear the bindweed from the hedge. It is obscuring potential winter food in form of hips, haws and even wintering caterpillars and other insect larvae. Though as an entomologist, I don't want them all consumed!

Simon

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