North Cotswold Ornithological Society 
 Birding the Cotswolds
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Cotswold birds - an introduction

The varied habitats of the Cotswolds support a good number of inland breeding birds. In a recent survey of the region, around 100 breeding species were recorded - including several locally uncommon "priority" species under the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan, such as Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting. Skylarks are widespread and there are good numbers of Redstarts, Tree Pipits and and Spotted Flycatchers, small pockets of Yellow Wagtails and Grasshopper Warblers and a few Curlews and Stonechats. Until recently there were also Nightingales and Turtle Doves but these seem to have gone now. The region now supports a very high population of Buzzards - possibly as great a concentration as anywhere in Britain - as well as a few Peregrine and Goshawk. We are hopeful that Red Kites will be proven to have bred here soon (adults and young were seen in the region in late summer 2011, following a large increase in numbers earlier in the year).

The region is also interesting in winter – with large winter thrush populations being widespread, finch flocks in arable stubble fields, and sometimes waxwing invasions. Short-eared Owls are seen most years, as are Merlins. Although not renowned as a migrant hotspot, certain areas are reliable for passage Wheatear, Whinchat and Ring Ouzel – and recent rarities have included Woodlark, Pallas’s Warbler, Wryneck and Hoopoe.

A list is here.

Champagne birding

NCOS member Duncan Dine has also described the highlights of birding in the Cotswolds in 2011.  Champagne Birding was his description.  See if you agree - the article is here.

Some NCOS members regularly take part in bird survey work. The farm at Blackdowns (OS Ref SP 208383) stands within the survey square (SP2138) that I was allocated in 2012 for a Winter Random Square Survey and a Breeding Season Random Square Survey.

The Blackdowns

For an insight into a particular area of the Cotsworlds, try Jeremy Voaden's description of the Blackdowns. Let him introduce it:

"Early one morning, whilst I was walking down the track towards the farm,  I stopped for a chat with the landowner and farmer Richard Nourse. Richard told me about a book that had been written about the birds on the farm in the 1940s. He also told me that in 2011a pair of Lapwing had attempted to breed on the farm, and of his plans to develop bird friendly habitats. Having tracked down the book on the internet, I have written this short article to share in the joy and gentleness of the book, to reflect on changes in the birds of the farm since it was written and share a few discursions into areas where the book content encroaches onto my own recent birding experiences."

["Who sit and watch" (Lutterworth Press) was written by Audrey Lane who lived at Blackdowns from the 1920s through until the 1950s. The book was published under the name Anne Blakemore in 1946.]

Vernacular names

Still on a historical note concerning Cotswold birds (and another piece of fascinating research from Jeremy), have you ever heard a Sharp Saw, discovered the nest of a Poke Pudding, explored the countryside in search of a Nettle Monger or pondered over the nighttime activities of the Goat Owl?

This article explores the breadth of alternative and local names given to our Gloucestershire birds. In addition to the vernacular names listed, brief notes are included detailing the origin of some of the names and the recorded geographical range of their use. This latter detail comprises the categories of Widespread which means that the name is used widely in England of the UK including Gloucestershire, County referring to a name that is primarily confined to Gloucestershire or more specific still e.g. Cotswolds or South of Gloucestershire.    

Much of the information is collated by means of secondary research. This is detailed by initial in the column Research source. Full references are given at the end of the article.  Where no source is referenced, this is because the name is known to the author or via an unattributed source.