Visit Hawkstone Park for some stunning wildlife, rare birds and a bird watchers paradise, come and see our rarest resident the Peregrine Falcon as well as the following:
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Birds of Hawkstone Park Follies
The natural vegetation is predominantly deciduous woodland, especially oak and beech with some extensive stands too of silver birch, but the towering sandstone cliffs helps to provide variety especially in nesting sites for special species such as Peregrine Falcon and Raven.
The open grassy spaces of the Golf Course provide good habitat for species such as blackbird, mistle thrush and green woodpecker and Hawk Lake has extensive marshy surrounds and a variety of water-loving species.
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
The Blue Tit is probably the most abundant bird in the woods. It is a resident species, present throughout the year and breeding in small holes and crevices in trees as well as the nestboxes spread throughout the Park. 7-12 eggs are laid from mid April into May. Laying dates vary from year to year dependant on early spring temperatures. Recent research has demonstrated that laying dates are, on average getting earlier, as a result of warmer spring temperatures. Male blue its feed the female who incubates the eggs. After about 12 days the eggs will hatch, in time to coincide with the emergence of caterpillars of the winter moth which forms the favoured prey of blue tits when feeding their young. Winter moth caterpillar numbers vary from year to year, occasionally being very abundant as they feed on oak leaves.
In good years most chicks in a brood fledge, but prolonged cold and especially wet spells in late May and June can have a devastating effect on the survival of nestlings. In 1998 over 50% of pairs failed to rear any young as a wet spell at the beginning of June prevented the adult birds from finding sufficient food for their broods. In 2009 however winter moth caterpillars were present in plague like numbers and most chicks fledged successfully.
Later in the summer family parties of Blue Tits wander through the woods. If Blue Tits are found in July or August it is well worth spending time carefully observing the flock, as other species such as warblers, goldcrests and treecreepers often accompany the tits.
Great Tit (Parus major)
The Great Tit is the largest species of tit in the UK and as with the Blue Tit it is an abundant resident throughout the woods at Hawkstone. Its larger size means it is generally dominant over Blue and other tit species, whether this is for nest sites in natural holes and cavities in trees or at bird feeders in gardens.
As with the Blue Tit, Great Tits take readily to the nestboxes scattered throughout the Park and tends to lay a little earlier than its smaller cousin.
8-13 eggs are laid in April and early May and incubated by the female. As with the Blue Tit, the male feeds the female as she sits on the eggs, but the female will regularly leave the eggs to stretch her wings, bathe or preen. However she is rarely away for more than 10-15 minutes and will cover the eggs with down to prevent too much cooling whilst when she is away.
After 14 days or so of incubation the eggs hatch and the frantic process of feeding the brood begins. The female will normally continue to sp[end most of her time brooding the young for the first 3 or 4 days after hatching as the chicks are naked and cannot retain sufficient body heat at this time. Once the down feathers have started to grow and the chicks have grown a little, the female joins the male in finding food. The parent birds then spend up to 18 hours a day feeding the brood and the chicks start to grow rapidly.
After 20 days in the nest the chicks will fledge, often on the same day but will continue to be fed by the parents for probably at least a week after fledgling and even after this time the parent birds and their young form flocks which forage throughout then woods.
As with Blue Tits there is often a high mortality of young in the first few months after fledging. Many fall prey to Sparrowhawks who themselves have chicks in the nest at the time when young tits have left the nest.
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoloeuca)
The Pied Flycatcher is the principal target species for the nestbox scheme. It is a summer visitor to Britain and also to Scandinavia, Germany, Russia and eastwards to the Ural Mountains. There are also breeding populations in the more mountainous regions of southern Europe and even in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.
Pied Flycatchers winter in Africa south of the Sahara but despite the many thousands of birds ringed in Northern Europe, only a handful of recoveries of birds have been obtained from their winter quarters. They are thought to winter primarily in West Africa from Senegal and Liberia to Nigeria and the Cameroon, but little is known about them at this time of year.
Birds arrive at Hawkstone in the last few days of April. Normally these early birds are males and they will usually start to sing and establish territories as soon as they arrive.
Females follow a few days later but new birds continue to arrive until mid May. By this time first-comers have paired, mated and the first eggs. 4-8 eggs are laid at daily intervals in holes in trees or in nestboxes. When first laid, the eggs of flycatchers and other perching birds are able to survive some chilling and usually the female continues to feed and does not start to incubate properly until all eggs are laid. Once incubation has started and the chick starts to develop in the egg then the female spends almost all her time on the eggs as significant chilling at this time is likely to be fatal for the embryos.
Female Pied Flycatchers are usually fed on the nest by the male. As with Blue and Great Tits, cold and especially wet spells in May can have a major impact on survival, though because Flycatchers lay later than tits this will usually result in the desertion of eggs by the female who is not being fed sufficiently well by the male bird.
As with most perching birds, Pied Flycatchers are prone to desert their eggs if disturbed during the laying period, but once the clutch is complete and the female is incubating then Pied Flycatchers are so attached to their clutches that they will allow handling by ringers on the nest without any danger of desertion. Birds can be ringed, weighed and measured and ‘posted’ back into a nestbox where they will settle down on the eggs again and continue to incubate.
Chicks hatch from the last week of May into June and fledge at only 13-16 days of age. By mid June most broods have fledged and the Pied Flycatcher seemingly ‘disappears’ from the woods at Hawkstone. There are very few sightings of flycatchers around a nestbox once the brood has fledged.
Little is known about the Pied Flycatcher at Hawkstone after the birds have left the nest. Adult birds moult their wing and tail feathers before migration in August but there are no sightings of these birds at the park during this period.
An interesting aspect of Pied Flycatcher biology is that male birds are often polygynous, that is they pair with more than one female. The reasons for this are poorly understood but often the male will tend to feed one female regularly at the expense of other females.
Despite their name, the Pied Flycatcher regularly feeds on the ground especially on ants and various flies. They can be watched in May and early June swooping to the ground from favourite perches especially around or near to their nesting trees. They are totally dependant on glades in the woods and on natural vegetation cover and will not occur where the shrub layer is dominated by rhododendrons.
Pied Flycatcher numbers have fluctuated at Hawkstone for reasons unknown from a maximum of ca. 25 breeding females to the current level of only 3-8 females per year, but the management of rhododendrons is vital to ensure it survives as a breeding species in the woods.
Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Though the males are particularly colourful birds, redstarts are difficult to see amongst the canopy and the scratchy song of the male is the best way to locate the bird. Redstarts are summer visitors to Britain and have an extensive range throughout Europe.
They arrive in late April and are closely associated with native oak woodlands being most common in western Britain especially the Lake District, Wales and the Welsh border counties of England.
Only 1-5 pairs next currently at Hawkstone, the location on the North Shropshire Plain being outside the core range in Shropshire which is mainly in the south and west of the county.
They nest in natural cavities in trees and mature trees with rotting timber are vital ingredients of the habitat for this species. They have occasionally used the nestboxes at Hawkstone.
6-7 eggs are laid and these hatch after two weeks incubation. The chicks fledge in a further 14-18 days. As with Pied Flycatchers they are difficult birds to see at Hawkstone once the chicks fledge though birds are often seen in Shropshire as a whole in July and August.
Chaffinch (Frangible coelebs)
At least two different populations of chaffinches use Hawkstone Park. Some birds are probably fully resident here, breeding commonly throughout the woods. However, these British breeders are augmented in winter months by large numbers of immigrants from continental Europe, especially Scandinavia, and these birds can be seen coming into the park on winter evenings. They roost in the rhododendron bushes, especially around the head of the Grand Valley and on Grotto Hill.
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
This is a bird wonderfully adapted for life in trees. Unlike the treecreeper, its relatively large feet and claws are adapted to help the bird go down tree trunks and boughs as well as up with two toes directed forward and two back enabling some grip on the smoothest of tree bark such as beech.
It tends to forage higher in trees than the treecreeper and uses boughs and relatively small twigs high up in the canopy.
This is a common species at Hawkstone with perhaps as many as 10-15 pairs and like many birds depend on the mature woodland here for both food and for nesting sites, breeding in holes and cavities in wood. 1 or 2 pairs usually nest in the nestboxes most years.
They have a special trick of reducing the sizes of these tree or nestbox entrance holes with mud which hardens into a solid mass, and this is probably a strategy to reduce the risk of predation especially by woodpeckers.
Nest cavities are lined with flakes of tree bark, unusual amongst UK birds. 6-8 eggs are incubates for 14-18 days but the nestling period is rather long for a small species or perching bid, often 25 days. Nuthatches are resident and present throughout the year at Hawkstone.
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
The resident treecreeper is a spider hunter par excellence, existing on a diet of small invertebrates living in the crevices in tree bark even in the colder days of winter. It feeds on tree trunks and the larger boughs, so generally closer to the ground than the nuthatch and is adapted for this existence with greatly modified tail feathers. The main quills of the central tail feathers are unusually thickened and lengthened and the whole tail acts as a ‘prop’ or extra leg allowing the bird to progress up the tree supporting the bulk of its weight on its tail. Its claws are relatively weak, unlike those of the nuthatch and have three claws pointed forward and one back like the majority of perching birds.
Treecreepers forage around the woods in pairs or after the breeding season in small family parties often accompanying tits or warblers in late summer. Nesting begins in April when 6 eggs are laid. Newly fledged treecreepers are poor fliers but climb trees well and need to gain height in one tree to enable a gliding flight down to the next.
The species is common at Hawkstone, again relishing the abundance of mature deciduous trees, especially the oak.
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
This tiny summer visitor is the commonest warbler in the woods at Hawkstone, breeding on or close to the ground in brambles or clumps of grass but feeding generally high in the canopy on insects.
The first arrivals are in March with large numbers heard in April and May as they sing the distinctive repetitive song ‘chiff chaff’. Birds are present right through to September and usually into October possible augmented by migrants from further north in the UK at this time.
Chiffchaffs migrate via Southern Spain to West Africa, especially Senegal and Gambia where they spend the winter.
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Nests in large numbers at Hawkstone in the larger holes in the many mature trees within the Park. As many as 30 pairs, possibly more breed each year and large flocks of young birds are a noisy accompaniment to visitors to the park in summer and autumn.
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Common resident in the woods. Often seen in squabbles and jousts in flight with ravens or buzzards.
Raven (Corvus corax)
A single pair has nested at Hawkstone in recent years and recently probably one or two other pairs have started to nest nearby.
Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
This colourful bird is a member of the crow family and breeds in small numbers throughout the woods. Its diet varies with the seasons, with a preponderance of live food such as large insects and nestling birds in the summer, reverting to seeds such as beech mast and especially acorns in the winter. They are probably one of the most important members of the oak-woodland community because of their habit of collecting acorns in the autumn and burying caches for use as food during the lean winter months. Many of these cached acorns are not used or found again and hence are inadvertently ‘planted’ by the jays and enable young oak trees to develop in the glades left by fallen trees.
Jays get a bad press for their habit of taking some nestling birds in spring and summer but may be one of the main enablers of the re-generation of oak woods.
Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Prior to the 1980’s when it became illegal to indiscriminately use strychnine and other poisons or rabbit or other carcasses to control foxes and other vermin, buzzards where very scarce away from the south-west of Shropshire. Over the last 25 years or so the population of buzzards in England has exploded with the species now breeding right across to eastern and south-eastern counties.
In Shropshire very few areas of the county are left without Buzzards and 2 pairs usually breed at Hawkstone in the quieter refuges of the Park.
On the whole the Buzzard is a friend of the farmer, as its staple diet in the summer is young rabbits and small mammals such as voles. It is a successful generalist predator however and will take birds when mammal prey is scarce, and in the winter months can often be seen on fields where it takes earthworms or on roadside verges where it is not averse to taking carrion when not beaten to it by magpies or carrion crows. Breeding success is apparently very low when rabbits are scarce.
Early spring (March and April) is the best time to see buzzards when birds display and soar regularly over Hawkstone. Grotto Hill is probably the best place to watch for them, later in the mornings when the warmth of the sun allows them to find some thermals.
2 -4 eggs are laid in April and incubation lasts a month or so. The chicks spend 6 weeks in the nest but as with other raptors, incubation of the eggs starts as soon as the first egg is laid and if all eggs hatch this means that in a brood of four young, the chicks are all at different ages. Should food be scarce, then the youngest and weakest chicks will usually die. In years of abundant food however, all chicks will survive, so this adaptation allows the buzzard to rear as many young as the unpredictable food supply will allow.
From mid June young buzzards are on the wing and are very noisy at this time as they are still fed by the adult birds are appear to be continually hungry.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
The recovery of the UK Peregrine population since its low point in the 1950’s and 60’s has been a conservation success story. Once threatened with extinction due to pesticide residues thinning their eggshells and causing eggs to break easily, they have since recovered and parts of the UK now have some of the best populations in the world of a species which breeds at very low densities on all continents except Antarctica.
The Shropshire population has grown from 1 or 2 pairs in the early eighties to 30 pairs in 2010 and a pair has bred at Hawkstone since 1992, probably rearing as many as 40 young birds over this period. As a top predator it has typically large territories and the Shropshire pair probably range widely over the nearby countryside.
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
A pair of kestrels is often present near the park entrance gates and breeds close to the Park. They usually keep well away from the Peregrine Falcon nest site.
Coal Tit (Parus ater)
A resident species which as with the other true tits nests in crevices in trees, buildings and even the sandstone cliffs within the Park. They readily take to nestboxes though are usually ousted by the larger and more dominant great and blue tits.
The Coal Tit has a much finer bill than the other tit species and is adapted to foraging for small insects especially around conifer trees. The walk by the Monument and the nearby track are the best places to see this species around some of the specimen conifer trees.
Marsh Tit (Parus palustris)
The resident Marsh Tit breeds in very small numbers at Hawkstone. It does have a tendency to prefer damper woodlands but more important is that it requires mature deciduous trees with plenty of rotting timber to supply it with the invertebrate food and allows excavation of nest sites.
Marsh Tits are very vocal in march and April confirming their presence with loud ‘pitchew’ calls characteristic of this species. Once eggs have been laid however, usually by the end of April at the latest, the birds fall silent and are very unobtrusive and difficult to see. This is probably an anti-predator tactic, especially against the Great Spotted Woodpecker which is probably the most significant predator of hole-nesting species in the woods.
Willow Tit (Parus montanus)
The Willow Tit is now a red-listed species of conservation concern thanks to a population crash over the last 20 years or so. It has never been particularly common in Shropshire and is probably a very scarce resident at Hawkstone, with perhaps 1 or 2 pairs breeding in the woods fringing the northern side of Hawk Lake.
It is difficult to distinguish from the Marsh Tit and its call is normally the best way of confirming the identification with the phrase ‘ chick-a-bee-bee-bee’ characteristic of the species.
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
This is a species which likes a healthy shrub and ground layer within woods and especially glades in woods where bramble patches especially form favourite nesting locations. A resident bird Long-tailed Tits breed at Hawkstone in small numbers but make up for it by having large broods and flocks of up to 20 birds can be seen in late summer and autumn when the chicks of the year have fledged.
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
The Spotted Flycatcher lives up to its name and is seen in midsummer (mainly from June till as late as early September), ‘flycatching’ from prominent perches high up in the mature oaks and beeches, often from the very top of these trees. It is a summer visitor only wintering in Africa. At Hawkstone the head of the Grand Valley is often the best spot to look for this species though birds are also usually present in Marchamley Hall Field. Probably no more than 2 pairs breed and then not in every season.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
This is the commonest of the three woodpecker species in the UK and probably up to 6 pairs breed each year at Hawkstone. They are generally abundant in mature woods with plenty of dead wood whether this be whole trees or dying branches and boughs. ‘Great Spots’ nest in trees excavated by both male and female birds and they feed extensively on wood-boring insects such as beetle and wasp larvae, but are also major predators of nestling birds at the appropriate season when they have young of there own to feed.
They can be seen throughout the woods and come readily to peanut fat or sunflower seeds so the provision of these foods near the Café will attract these for easy viewing by visitors.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)
Now a real rarity in the county, the smallest European woodpecker has bred in the Park and probably does so in most years. It is only sparrow size and difficult to see in the tree canopies because of this. As with all our woodpeckers however, they are very vocal in March and April especially and this is the best time to locate them. The territorial ‘song’ is distinctive and loud.
It is resident breeding in small tree holes often in alders or willows and the west end of Hawk Lake is a good place to watch out for this species.
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
One possibly two pairs are resident breeding within the Park. Green Woodpeckers breed in large tree holes in the quieter areas of the park but feed on the ground primarily on ants, hence they find the rougher areas of the golf course fairways and fairway margins especially attractive for feeding.
They are loud and conspicuous early in the season between late March and May with the ‘yaffel’ call heard daily at this time.
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Summer visitor with the first birds appearing in April. Breeds in very low numbers probably in most years but has decreased in line with population trends nationally in England. Probably now mainly a passage migrant with birds trapped on passage in small numbers until late August. Occasional only in September.
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
Rare spring visitor only. Has not bred.
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
Resident preferring the areas with a good scrubby covering on the ground such as bramble patches.
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common resident throughout the woods. Scarcer following very cold spells in winter but the population usually recovers very quickly in the next breeding season.
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Common resident. Continental blackbirds appear in late October to spend the winter in north Shropshire and birds use the rhododendrons at this time as roost sites until they return to breeding areas in March.
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
The largest of the thrush family in the UK, the mistle thrush is one of the earliest birds to start territorial singing and display, often starting on warmer days around Christmas and certainly often heard singing in January. Breeds early and a few pairs breed at Hawkstone with the Grand Valley one of the best sites to see them.
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Small numbers of song thrushes breed. They are probably resident at Hawkstone.
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Winter visitor to the UK from Scandinavia and Russia. Seen at Hawkstone from late October to March though usually only flying over in flocks. Rarely seen on the ground in the Park.
Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
As with the Fieldfare a common winter visitor to the UK from the continent. Uses the Park more often than the Fieldfare; flocks regularly roost in the rhododendrons on winter nights, and groups forage amongst the leaf litter in the woods regularly at this time.
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Common breeding bird, less so than the woodpigeon but nests in the abundant tree holes throughout the Park. Easiest to locate in spring with their distinctive song.
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
There are no rookeries in the Park itself but Rooks are regular visitors to the Golf Course and Marchamley Hall Field feeding on soil invertebrates.
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaoacto)
A few pairs are resident around the Hotel and in Weston village.
Coot (Fulica atra)
Breeds on Hawk Lake in good numbers.
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Several pairs around Hawk Lake.
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Occasionally seen in the Park. Probably breeds but no confirmation has yet been found.
Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Hobbies are summer visitors to the UK from Africa, feeding on larger insects such as flying beetles and dragonflies when they first arrive in late May, and switching to birds such as swallows and martins in late July and August when feeding young. This bird has increased in the UK in recent years, probably as a result of global warming making their insect prey more abundant, but they have very large territories. Hobbies have not been recorded breeding at Hawkstone but have been seen occasionally.
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
A summer visitor, breeding in old or abandoned dwellings and sheds. A few pairs around the Park.
House Martin (Delichon urbica)
A colony of House Martins is present in Weston village and birds can often be seen hawking for insects over the Park or Hawk Lake, especially in poor summer weather.
Swift (Apus apus)
A summer visitor to the UK mainly seen from May to July. Swifts are not known to breed locally but are regularly seen hawking for insects over the Park or Hawk Lake.
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
The Pheasant especially likes to marshy margins of Hawk Lake and is regularly seen in this area.
Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Occasional spring records of calling males. Now much scarcer than formerly. Not known to have bred at Hawkstone.
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Several pairs of Tawny Owls nest at Hawkstone. Primarily rodent feeders on Wood Mice and voles they can best be heard in early autumn evenings in September and October when the young of the year are being ousted from their parents territories and there is often much calling and territorial activity.
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Formerly bred in Marchamley hall Field, but does not apparently do so now.
Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Scarce visitor often in midsummer. The Shropshire population is centred on the Long Mynd and Clun Forest areas but is slowly increasing. One to look out for in future years.
Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
One July record of this rare summer visitor.
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
There is no suitable habitat for the meadow pipit at Hawkstone but migrating flocks are often recorded overhead, mainly in April and September – October.
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialise)
Not recorded at Hawkstone since the 1980’s when occasional birds were recorded singing in spring. Summer visitor from Africa.
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
A bird associated with human habitation rather than with woodlands. A pair normally breeds near the Park Shop.
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Occasionally seen outside the breeding season particularly near Hawk lake.
Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
1 or 2 pairs only might breed, mainly around the bottom of the Elysian and Car Park areas. A summer visitor with birds recorded from April to September.
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
A summer visitor to the UK wintering in Ethiopia. Very scarce at Hawkstone as there is no suitable habitat, but occasional at the bottom of the Grand Valley.
Blackcap (Sylvia collybita)
Common summer visitor from April to October, Blackcaps breed throughout the Hawkstone woods mainly in glades where native shrubs are frequent. Scarcer where rhododendrons dominate the shrub layer.
Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
A close relative of the Blackcap, the Garden Warbler arrives in April and has been recorded through to September. It is also a summer visitor to the UK but scarcer at Hawkstone than the Blackcap preferring scrubbier areas with good ground and shrub layers.
Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaeus)
This summer visitor is very dependant on wet margins of lakes and pools or on reed beds. A few pairs breed annually around Hawk Lake.
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Has been recorded from time to time mainly in April and August. It is possible it has bred alongside Hawk Lake, but this has not been confirmed.
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
One record of a bird on passage, trapped for ringing in August.
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
The smallest of British Birds, the Goldcrest is most abundant in stands of conifer trees and can be seen especially around the Monument . Most birds at Hawkstone are probably resident, possibly augmented by winter visitors between November and March.
Firecrest (Regulus ignacapillus)
This is mainly a continental bird which is gradually colonising Britain and now breeds in many southern counties. One record at Hawkstone of a bird trapped fro ringing in October 2007. One to look out for in the future.
Magpie (Pica pica)
Resident, seen mainly on the margins of the woods.
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Does not appear now to breed within the woods themselves at Hawkstone. Breeding birds are present in Weston village but the Starling is rarely seen within the Park proper, except for flocks flying over.
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Occasionally heard flying over during spring and summer months. No breeding records. Wintering flocks often use the rhododendrons around the monument to roost.
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Common finch regularly recorded in the breeding season. Scarcer in the winter.
Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Siskins are mainly winter visitors to Hawkstone appearing from late September through to early April. Occasionally flocks of up to 50 birds use the alders around Hawk Lake to feed.
Linnet (Acanthis cannabina)
Formerly bred and may occasionally still do so. Linnets have declined in recent decades and now are recorded infrequently, mainly flying over in spring.
Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)
Redpolls are irruptive species, that is they are common in some years and scarce in others. They are not known to have bred and Hawkstone and are mainly seen in small flocks in passage periods or in winter.
Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)
A small flock of this continental cousin of the Lesser Redpoll was seen in February 2004 feeding amongst birches.
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Resident with perhaps up to 10 pairs breeding in the Park. Bullfinches especially appear to like Wild Raspberry and Honeysuckle and can feed on buds as well as on seeds.
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
The Brambling is another irruptive species, keenly awaited in October when the first wintering birds appear from their Scandinavian breeding grounds, but whose numbers can vary dramatically from year to year. Beech mast is a favourite winter food and in good mast years bramblings can be been regularly throughout the Park, but they are mainly seen coming in to roost with the wintering chaffinch flocks between October and March.
Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
A scarce visitor to Hawkstone, crossbills are recorded nevertheless fairly regularly, usually in July or August. They are early breeding species and in some years disperse in good numbers from their core breeding locations in Scotland and the Continent. Adapted to feed on the seeds of conifers, especially spruces.
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citronella)
1 or 2 pairs formerly bred on the grassier areas within the Park but have not been recorded recently.
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
A few pairs breed around Hawk Lake.
Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
One midsummer record in poor weather in the 1980’s.
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
A common migrant and wintering gull throughout Shropshire. Recorded flying over Hawkstone in all months of the year.
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
As with the Lesser Black-backed Gull this is a common bird in Shropshire, especially as a winter visitor. Regularly forages on the margins of Hawk Lake.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
This resident species breeds on Hawk Lake and beside pools in the Park. Has been recorded breeding in tree holes.
Teal (Anas crecca)
Winter visitor and passage migrant on Hawk lake.
Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Occasionally recorded on Hawk Lake during passage periods.
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Small numbers breed on Hawk Lake and are present throughout the year except during very cold spells.
Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Occasional on Hawk Lake in winter.
Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Occasional on Hawk Lake in winter.
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Used to mainly be a winter visitor on Hawk Lake, but the Goosander has recently been recorded breeding in tree holes within the Park.
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
One or two pairs breed usually on Hawk Lake.
Goldeneye *(Bucephala clangula)
Occasional on Hawk Lake in winter in very small numbers.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Regular visitor mainly in summer and autumn months around the margins of Hawk Lake.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Scarce but increasing passage and winter visitor to Hawk Lake.
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Often seen on or around Hawk Lake in spring. Not known to have bred.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Breeds in small numbers on the margins of Hawk Lake. Seen throughout the year.
Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Greylag Geese are increasing in numbers. Probably breeds most years around Hawk Lake.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
One or two pairs breed most years on Hawk Lake.
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Regular in small numbers mainly in late autumn and winter in boggy margins to the south of Hawk Lake. Does not breed.
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Occasionally recorded overflying the Park. Does not breed.
Oystercatcher (Haematopus haematopus)
The Oystercatcher is increasing in Shropshire and is recorded mainly between March and August. It regularly occurs in spring around Hawk Lake but as yet has not been recorded breeding.
Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Formerly bred widely across North Shropshire, the curlew has declined markedly over the last two decades. It does not now breed near Hawkstone. Occasional birds are seen overflying the Park mainly in spring and autumn.
Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Woodcock probably bred at Hawkstone in years gone by but they have declined as a Shropshire breeding birds and certainly do not breed in the Park these days.
They are however a regular winter visitor from the Continent and Russia appearing in the woods quite late in the year from November. Most birds have usually left by the middle of March.
Woodcock spend the day within the wooded areas of the Park, usually in the quieter refuges as they will move away from areas regularly disturbed by people. They are very well camouflaged on the woodland floor amongst the leaf litter and dead bracken and often don’t flush up until the observer is within several metres.
In the winter evenings they fly out from the Park woods to forage on pasture fields where they feed on invertebrates especially earthworms.
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Occasionally seen in summer along Hawk Lake. Not known to breed.
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
There is no suitable breeding habitat at Hawkstone for skylarks and the only birds usually seen are single birds or small flocks flying over during spring and especially autumn passage, or during especially hard weather when the species often makes notable cold weather movements when fields are covered in snow.
Plants of Hawkstone Park
The Shropshire Wildlife Trust members Paul Bell, Angie Pyatt and the late Jean Jackson did a survey of the plants of Hawkstone Park in the 1980’s before it became a Country Park.
This list is based mainly on the plants recorded during this survey but with additions seen incidentally during visits for nest-boxing and ringing. It is not comprehensive and intensive searching is bound to find lots of other things especially the lower plants such as mosses and lichens, difficult species such as grasses and water plants in Hawk Lake.
In addition to those plants listed below, the following county rarities have been found on Grotto Hill:
Nottingham Catchfly (Silene nutans)
Wild Liquorice (Astragalus glycyphyllos)
Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage
Broad Buckler Fern
Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil
Common Dog Violet
Good King Henry
Marsh Bird’s-Foot Trefoil
Invertebrates of Hawkstone Park
Invertebrates have never been systematically surveyed at Hawkstone Park All records are incidental sightings or observations from bird nest-boxing and ringing activities.
Green-veined White (Artogeia napi)
Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Brimstone (Gonopteryx rhamni)
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)
Large Skipper (Ochlodes venatus)
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)
Oak Bush Cricket (Meconema thalassinum)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)
Brown Hawker (Aeshna juncea)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Horntail (Urocerus gigas)
Spider (Araniella cucurbitina)
Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides)
Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians of Hawkstone Park
Mammals, reptiles and amphibians have not been systematically surveyed. These records are incidental sightings or observations from bird nestboxing and ringing activities.
Pipistrelle Bat (Pipistrellus sp)
Noctule (Nyctalus noctula)
Stoat (Mustela erminea)
Badger (Meles meles)
Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Mole (Talpa europaea)
Common Frog (Rana temporaria)
Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris)
Trees of Hawkstone Park
There are a huge variety of trees at Hawkstone Park Follies including native species as well as a variety of exotic species planted by the Hill family. Many of the more unusual varieties are labelled as you go around the Park to help identification.
Douglas FirEnglish Oak
and many more!