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Croydon Bird Survey 2005

RSPB Croydon Local Group (RSPB registered charity no. 207076)

Edited by John Birkett


Introduction

This is the 11th annual report about Croydon’s birds and, as usual, includes information submitted through our own survey as well as selected information provided by the Association of Croydon Conservation Societies (ACCS) who run their own garden wildlife survey. Casual records from a variety of individuals, organisations and websites are also included. All the records that have been submitted are included in this report unless there is evidence of a misidentification. This policy differs from that of both the London Natural History Society and the Surrey Bird Club where full descriptions are required for several species before the records are accepted. This often applies to birds of prey and some of the records in our reports relate to birds where an insufficient (or even non-existent) description has been submitted. Hopefully, these are made clear in the main text, but inclusion of any record does not necessarily imply that the identification is correct.


Garden Survey

As usual I would like to thank everyone who took the time and effort to complete (and submit) their forms. Forms covering 132 gardens were received for 2005 up to the time of writing this report. Unfortunately, this is down from the 141 of 2004. Percentage figures quoted in this report are taken from these. Although details of some birds seen in gardens as part of the ACCS survey or casual records are mentioned, they are not included in the percentages. As previously, there may be slight discrepancies between the figures for last year quoted in this report and those quoted last time. This is due to additional information being supplied in the intervening period. The table below shows the number of gardens participating each month and these have been used to calculate the percentage figures quoted in the main text, i.e. the percentage of gardens from which a species was reported in a particular month. This allows records to be compared from month to month, or year to year. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Gdns 116 117 116 113 112 115 114 115 116 118 118 118



The accompanying map (figure 1) shows the distribution of gardens that participated during the year. Blank areas represent those parts of Croydon from which we have received no garden records. Those areas marked ‘X’ indicate that there are few, if any, houses there and no garden records would be expected. The shaded areas represent the ‘urban core’. We can still benefit from increased participation, as shown by the gaps on the map.

Figure 1 - Location of gardens in 2005

Figure 2 - Species counts

The second map included here (figure 2) shows the total number of species reported from the gardens in each of the squares. The actual totals for each square range from 16 to 61. 2005 saw six squares with counts of over 46 species, down slightly from the eight squares in 2004. The largest numbers again tend to be in the southern half of the borough, with some of the higher counts in the north being from gardens near to South Norwood Lake and the Country Park. The highest count from the north of the borough, however, came from a garden not that far from Mitcham Common. As ever, it should be remembered though that this is the total count of species recorded from all the gardens in a square. Those squares with coverage from several gardens might reasonably be expected to have a higher total than those with only one observer, or coverage for only part of the year. However, the highest total count comes from a square with only one observer (but the garden is close to woods and a golf course and is possibly on a migration flyway).


Most common species

The twelve most common species for 2005 are listed in the first table by the percentage of gardens in which they occurred at least once during the year. For those species that were in last year’s top ten, the figures for 2004 are included in brackets for comparison. Also included in this table is the list of the top 12 species recorded in the Association of Croydon Conservation Societies (ACCS) Garden Wildlife Survey for 2005.

               by %age of gardens  	ACCS 2005

Blue Tit 100% (1st 100%) Blackbird 100% Robin 100% (2nd= 99%) Blue Tit 100% Magpie 100% (2nd= 99%) Robin 99% Blackbird 100% (2nd= 99%) Magpie 99% Woodpigeon 99% (2nd= 99%) Carrion Crow 97% Great Tit 98% (6th= 95%) Starling 95% Collared Dove 96% (8th 93%) Woodpigeon 93% Dunnock 93% Wren 93% Jay 93% (10th 89%) Great Tit 91% Carrion Crow 92% (9th 91%) Collared Dove 85% Starling 92% (7th 95%) Jay 83% Greenfinch 90% Dunnock 77%


For the first time since 1996 there has been a slight change to the species appearing in the top 10 listing. Starling is hanging onto a top ten place but only at 10th=, while Dunnock has moved up into 8th place (along with Jay) and is in the top ten for the first time during the course of our survey. This is the first year of our survey in which twelve species have been reported from 90% or more of gardens. Rather unsurprisingly (as their survey covers the same area as ours), the top twelve ACCS species are broadly similar to ours, with some slight differences in order. As with last year, the main exception is that Wren is ranked at 7th= in their survey against 15th in ours (having been seen in 86% of gardens). This replaced Greenfinch (which was 16th in the ACCS survey, with records from just 70% of gardens). Another major difference was the ranking of House Sparrow - 13th in the ACCS survey and 21st= in ours. The top twelve of the BTO’s Garden Bird Feeding Survey (GBFS) for winter 2004/5 are given in the following table. The asterisks (*) indicate species that are in the GBFS top twelve, but not in ours.

GBFS 2004/5 Robin 100% Blue Tit 99% Blackbird 99% Great Tit 98% Greenfinch 97% Dunnock 97% Chaffinch * 95% Collared Dove 91% Coal Tit * 88% House Sparrow * 86% Starling 81% Magpie 75% Whereas the ACCS survey shows a great similarity with ours, this nationwide survey again shows some significant differences. House Sparrow is still in the top ten and the Breeding Bird Survey shows that in some parts of the UK House Sparrow populations are not declining significantly and that numbers are apparently increasing in the East Midlands where there was a 25% increase between 1994 and 2005. The Chaffinch is one of the most populous species in the UK, so it is not surprising to find it in a countrywide top ten. However, it also appears to be increasing in Croydon and is now in 13th place, up from 15th= last year. The third additional species in the GBFS is Coal Tit, which lies at 16th place in our survey (along with Great Spotted Woodpecker). The species missing from the GBFS top twelve are Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Jay. Magpie has only just crept in at number 12, having been seen in just 75% of GBFS gardens against 100% in ours! This once again suggests that the corvids have adapted well to suburban and even urban life.


Open Spaces

Records were received from 42 open spaces during 2005, a record number. Some were included by virtue of commuters making notes while waiting on the railway station each morning or passing an open area such as the Selhurst Triangle ‘reserve’. Once again Biggin Wood, Coulsdon Common and Millers Pond were covered by only a handful of visits during the year. There are some sites (such as Stambourne Woodland Walk) from which no records were received. This, and others not covered, are potentially good sites and we would appreciate any efforts made to try and cover them and any other woods, parks, golf courses, etc not given in the table below. There was also reduced coverage from South Norwood Lake. The table below gives all the sites for which information has been provided for 2005, together with the number of months in which visits were made and the number of species recorded during the year. The figures in brackets refer to the number of months the site was surveyed in 2004 and the number of species reported from there last year (NS = not surveyed in 2004). One benefit of repeat visits is that we can see how the species present change during the course of a year and from year to year. One of our sites previously had no known formal name and was identified by the name of the road on which it was situated. Some research by local residents has led to the name Colescroft Wood being recognised by the council for ‘Firs Road Wood’.

Site Visits Species Site Visits Species Addington Hills 12 (12) 43 (36) Parkfields 12 (12) 26 (25) Biggin Wood 1 (1) 17 (13) Park Hill Rec 12 (12) 41 (40) Bradmore Green Pond 12 (6) 27 (21) Purley Beeches 12 (11) 42 (46) Bramley Bank 1 (2) 21 (27) Purley Bury Bowls Club 4 (5) 26 (30) Brickfields Meadow 11 (9) 45 (39) Purley Downs Golf Course 11 (0) 29 (NS) Central Croydon 12 (12) 25 (24) Purley Oaks station 2 (0) 11 (NS) Colescroft Wood 10 (4) 26 (24) Queens Road Cemetery 12 (1) 39 (13) Coulsdon Common 1 (1) 17 (17) Riddlesdown 12 (12) 60 (49) Croham Hurst 3 (9) 28 (48) Sanderstead Plantation 11 (11) 39 (43) Farthing Downs 12 (12) 54 (52) Sanderstead station 12 (12) 44 (37) Foxley Wood 10 (4) 24 (25) Sanderstead village 12 (12) 42 (38) Heathfield 1 (0) 14 (NS) Selhurst Triangle 12 (8) 21 (15) Heavers Meadow 12 (9) 55 (40) Selsdon Park Hotel 2 (2) 21 (22) Hutchinson’s Bank 2 (3) 38 (39) Selsdon Wood 8 (0) 35 (NS) Kenley Common 1 (4) 17 (27) Shirley Heath 1 (2) 14 (17) Kings Wood 11 (9) 39 (38) Shirley Park Golf Course 12 (6) 42 (38) Littleheath Woods 6 (12) 20 (28) South Norwood CP (LNR) 12 (12) 99 (103) Lloyd Park 12 (12) 56 (52) South Norwood Lake 11 (12) 59 (66) Long Lane Wood 6 (7) 24 (28) Threehalfpenny Wood 1 (4) 15 (23) Meadow Hill 11 (4) 35 (23) Waddon Ponds 12 (12) 28 (29) Millers Pond 1 (1) 18 (13) Woodside Green 6 (0) 19 (NS)

As can be seen, most of the sites are not those that would be immediately thought of as being bird watching sites, but many of them have recorded 30 or more species during the year. Who would know what was at these sites without the regular visits? Even if a site listed here has all year round coverage, we would still like to see more records (something could be missed by the regular observer if they visited at a different time). One revelation has been to discover a fuller extent of species being recorded at Heavers Meadow, because there is now someone who visits almost daily. If you visit any of Croydon’s open spaces (and that includes golf courses and allotments) and have noted the birds present, let us have a copy of your list to add to our database. The same applies if you can obtain information while waiting for a train or you can see a site from a passing train or bus. While these may not give fully detailed information of every species using those sites, they will still be of use. Likewise, if you visit an open space and see something less common we would like to know about it.


Acknowledgements

Once again we would like to thank Croydon Council Environmental, Cultural and Sport Service Department for assistance with the printing of the report.


Thanks must also go to Malcolm Jennings for access to information of unusual species reported as part of the ACCS Survey.

JB. August 2006

Please note, the views and interpretations expressed in this report are those of the editor and are not necessarily those of the RSPB.

Systematic List

This list includes all known records of birds reported in Croydon during 2005, whether or not they were found as part of our surveys. It also gives additional significant records from previous years that came to light after the publication of the last report. For some species, comparisons have been made with regional or national population changes using information from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) as given in ‘The Breeding Bird Survey 2005’ published by BTO, JNCC and RSPB, BTO Research Report Number 439.


Little Grebe

As usual the only regular site for Little Grebe was Waddon Ponds where birds were present throughout the year. There were occasional sightings at South Norwood Country Park (in April and May) and South Norwood Lake (from January 9th and again in December).


Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebes were present throughout the year at South Norwood Lake. Although birds were seen at South Norwood Country Park in March and April, there was no obvious attempt at breeding this year.


Cormorant

The only regular site for records of Cormorant was South Norwood Country Park where they were recorded in small numbers every month. Otherwise there were just occasional sightings at, or over, another seven sites (including Central Croydon). Garden records of Cormorants normally relate to occasional sightings of one or two birds flying over. On November 29th, however, one landed in a garden in Shirley with a small fish that it had presumably caught nearby at Millers Pond. More regular sightings came from Pollards Hill South (fairly close to Beddington Sewage Farm) and Pittville Gardens (near South Norwood Lake).


Little Egret

Two were at South Norwood Country Park on February 5th and one flew over Harbury Road, Carshalton on December 27th.


Grey Heron

Herons were regularly seen at South Norwood Country Park, which is not far from the heronry at Kelsey Park (in neighbouring Bromley). They were also seen fairly frequently at other water sites such as Bradmore Green Pond, Heavers Meadow, South Norwood Lake and Waddon Ponds. Grey Herons were reported from 46% of gardens (61), slightly up on the 43% (also 61 gardens) in 2004. The usual pattern continues with the least number of garden sightings being in the late spring/early summer.


Mute Swan

Mute Swans were seen most frequently at South Norwood Lake, with occasional sightings from South Norwood Country Park. Two flew over Sanderstead station on April 27th. There were two records of Mute Swans flying over gardens. These were at Purley Downs Road, South Croydon in May and Talbot Road, Carshalton in October.


Greylag Goose

There was a high count of 10 over Park Hill Rec on January 16th. Greylags were also recorded at South Norwood Country Park in March, April and May and there were fairly regular sightings of one bird at Waddon Ponds. Two flew over Chepstow Rise, Croydon on May 21st. [Late record: Four flew over Thornton Heath on March 2nd 2003 and were later seen at Beddington Sewage Farm.]

Canada Goose

Canada Geese were resident at South Norwood Country Park, South Norwood Lake and Waddon Ponds. Pairs bred (or were present during the breeding season) at Brickfields Meadow, Shirley Park Golf Course and Whitgift School Grounds. They were also presumably present at Millers Pond, but there were only very limited records from there. There was no real change to the status of Canada Geese as far as gardens go. In 2005 they were reported from 17% of gardens (22), which is similar to recent years. As usual, sightings peaked in March and April. A flock of 30 over Russell Hill on June 12th was also seen flying over Coulsdon. Gardens reporting more regular sightings tended to be in the northern sector (and hence were closer to the main water bodies in the area).

Brent Goose

50 flew west over Markfield, Forestdale on October 29th. This is the first record for Croydon since five flew over South Norwood Country Park on November 1st 2002 and continues the trend for records to usually be in October/November as Brent Geese cut over the south east corner of England to get to their wintering grounds on the south coast.


Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Geese were recorded at South Norwood Country Park in March and April and a pair took up residence at South Norwood Lake from December 17th into 2006.


Mandarin

A pair was seen at Brickfields Meadow late on August 21st, but was not present the next day. A male was at Millers Pond in late January and there is also a record from South Norwood Country Park in November.


Wigeon

There is a record from South Norwood Country Park in September. This is the first known record in Croydon since 2002.


Gadwall

Gadwall were seen at South Norwood Country Park in February and May with a site record of ten there at dusk on October 11th.


Teal

Teal were occasionally seen at South Norwood Country Park in September and December.


Mallard

Mallards were recorded at most sites with any standing water, although they were only occasionally seen on the small pond at Selhurst Triangle. As for Canada Goose, there was no significant change to either the number of sightings or the peak period. In 2005 mallards were reported from 11% of gardens (15), which is similar to the previous two years. Peak sightings were once again in April and May.


Shoveler

There were double figure counts of Shoveler at both ends of the year (January to April and September to December) at South Norwood Country Park. Twenty five were seen at South Norwood Lake on an unrecorded date in early January.


Pochard

Pochard are now only seen in very small numbers in Croydon, with sightings at South Norwood Country Park (from January to March and October and November) and at Waddon Ponds (in January, February and November). Three flew over Harbury Road, Carshalton on December 27th.


Tufted Duck

Away from the four main sites for waterfowl in Croydon (Millers Pond, South Norwood Country Park, South Norwood lake and Waddon Ponds), there was a female at Brickfields Meadow on August 23rd.


Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks were very occasionally seen at South Norwood Country Park in May and June. [Late record: Three were at South Norwood Country Park on May 7th 2004.]

Red Kite

One Red Kite flew over Littleheath Woods on May 1st and single birds were seen over Coulsdon on unspecified dates in June and July. Another flew over Lower Barn Road, Purley at 13.00 on August 2nd.


Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawks were reported from 44% of gardens (58), which was similar to last year’s 43% (61 gardens). Sightings peaked in January when Sparrowhawks were reported from almost a quarter of gardens. In 2005 the usual ‘summer’ peak extended from July to October. At Woodland Gardens, Selsdon one was seen to attack birds at a feeder during August and at Church Way, Sanderstead one went for a Collared Dove. Reports of Sparrowhawks were also received from about 40% of open spaces, down slightly from 2004. There was a good spread from South Norwood Country Park in the north to Farthing Downs in the south. There were, however, noticeably few records from South Norwood Lake.


Common Buzzard

After a rise in records in recent years, only one Buzzard was actually seen in Croydon airspace during 2005. One flew high over Fox Hill, SE19 heading towards South Norwood Country Park on August 21st. The others were just outside Croydon with one at Chapel Bank on July 3rd and one flew high over Harbury Road, Carshalton in September.


Kestrel

The decline continues. Kestrels were reported from just 13% of gardens (17) in 2005 compared with 19% (27 gardens) in 2004 and 44% (55 gardens) in 1995 when our survey started. This fall is shown in the accompanying graph. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) has shown a decline in population of 17% in the south east of England between 1994 and 2005. At least Kestrels were seen at a greater proportion of open spaces (33%) than gardens. Even so, they were reported from no more than a quarter of them in any given month.


Merlin

One was seen at South Norwood Country Park in March.


Hobby

The first dated record of Hobby was of one seen at South Norwood Country Park (where Hobbies were also reported in September and October) on May 10th, followed by one at Pittville Gardens, SE25 on May 21st, and the next was at Sanderstead Village on May 28th. One was at Lloyd Park on June 16th. The one seen at Farm Fields, Sanderstead in July was an interesting summer record. In autumn one flew over Markfield, Forestdale on August 24th with two following House Martins there on September 15th.


Peregrine

Away from the town centre, there were several records of Peregrines flying over gardens. One flew over the Dutch Village, Coulsdon in March. One caught a pigeon in the Hartley Down area in mid-May and one flew over Bedlow Way, Beddington on June 6th. Sightings late in the year involved singles over Markfield on November 4th and 7th and one over Sanderstead on November 11th was following a flight line from Croydon towards Riddlesdown. The last record suggests that a series of sightings at Riddlesdown from the end of April may relate to the town centre birds flying there rather than to a second resident pair. A record of an adult dropping food to two young over Whitgift School on July 12th almost certainly confirms that breeding occurred in Croydon again in 2005.


Quail

One was at South Norwood Country Park on May 29th.


Pheasant

Pheasants were reported from six gardens during 2005. They were regularly seen and heard at Markfield. Otherwise, garden sightings were widespread and came from Stanhope Road, Croydon (in January and September), Chapel View, South Croydon (male on March 4th), Farm Fields, Sanderstead (one on March 18th), Windermere Road, Coulsdon (in March) and the Dutch Village (in March, June and October). The only open space to regularly report Pheasants was South Norwood Country Park, but they were also reported from Addington Hills, Farthing Downs, Hutchinsons Bank, Purley Downs Golf Course and Riddlesdown.


Water Rail

Water Rails were regular at South Norwood Country Park in both winter periods. Late in the year one was occasionally showing well at close range in the naturalised stream near the entrance by Harrington Road tram stop. More unusual was a report of one at Waddon Ponds in February.


Moorhen

Moorhens were regularly seen at six sites and also bred at several others including Whitgift School grounds.


Coot

Coots were present throughout the year at three sites. Young birds were seen at Heavers Meadow before the water virtually disappeared in late spring.


Avocet

Two flew from Beddington Sewage Farm into Croydon at 12.30 on October 16th.


Little Ringed Plover

One was at South Norwood Country Park on May 29th, the same day as the Quail, making a good double for some lucky observers.


Golden Plover

[Late record: 20 flew over Beddington Sewage Farm towards Croydon on March 22nd 2003.]

Lapwing

There were two records of Lapwings from gardens, both early in the year, and a few from open spaces. There were 15 in a field near to a garden in Addington and 150-200 by Gravel Hill during January (presumably from the flock that often winters near Kent Gate Way, where about 150 flew off towards Gravel Hill on January 31st). 28 flew over Lloyd Park in February and 40 over Lodge Road, Croydon on March 4th. Lapwings were also seen at South Norwood Country Park in February and October.

Woodcock One was seen near Vulcan Way, New Addington on November 19th and one was seen at South Norwood Country Park on December 18th and 26th. [Late record: A Woodcock was at Hyde Road, Sanderstead on an unspecified date in 2004.]

Snipe Snipe were only reported in small numbers from South Norwood Country Park from January to April (when there was one on April 14th) and again in November and December (with four on December 4th). More unusual were sightings at Heavers Meadow with one on February 13th, two on March 11th, one on March 17th and one on April 7th. In fact the latter site had been thought for some time to be suitable habitat for Snipe, but it was probably only increased coverage, usually early in the morning, that enabled this to be confirmed.

Green Sandpiper One was reported at Brickfields Meadow in January.

Common Sandpiper Common Sandpipers were seen at South Norwood Country Park in April, May, July and August and there was also one at South Norwood Lake on May 1st.

Mediterranean Gull An adult was at South Norwood Country Park on July 2nd.

Little Gull [Late record: One flew east from Beddington Sewage Farm towards Croydon on October 1st 2003. This is effectively only the second Croydon record of Little Gull and mirrors that of September 20th 1998, which was also of one flying towards Croydon from Beddington sewage Farm.]

Black-headed Gull Reported from 54% of gardens (58) in 2005, which is similar to recent years. Again, sightings fell off during the breeding season (from late March) and built up later in the year. Black-headed Gulls were also common winter visitors to open spaces and were recorded at, or flying over, 33 sites during the year. As with garden records, numbers dropped significantly during the breeding season. The highest reported count was of 125 at Meadow Hill in November.


Common Gull Common Gulls were reported from eight gardens in 2005, which was slightly better than last year’s low of just five. The pattern of occurrence broadly mirrors that of Black-headed Gull with no garden records at all during the breeding season. Although seen at only about half the number of open spaces as Black-headed Gulls (and in smaller numbers), the spread of records was pretty much as would be expected.


Lesser Black-backed Gull/Herring Gull Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were reported from 11 and 14 gardens respectively, although these figures are likely to be low at least partly because observers cannot readily identify gulls in flight. There was a high count of 150 Lesser Black-backed Gulls over Hamsey Green in November, with 85 (not specifically identified) over Old Coulsdon in February. The only significant count received from open spaces was of 50 over Heavers Meadow on July 5th. Yellow-legged Gull Two were reported from the Meadow Hill area on May 17th.

Great Black-backed Gull The only record of Great Black-backed Gull came from South Norwood Country Park in January. This remains by far the scarcest of the five main gull species in Croydon.

Common Tern A pair, presumably last year’s breeders, returned to the South Norwood area and birds were again seen at both South Norwood Lake and South Norwood Country Park, with records into August from the latter. There were also reports from Brickfields Meadow (for several days from about April 25th and again in May and July) and Heavers Meadow (on May 17th) that presumably relate to one of these birds.

Feral Pigeon Feral Pigeons were reported from 72% of gardens (75), which is very much in line with most years of our survey. High counts included 422 flying south over Forestdale on August 27th, with 256 over the same garden on September 18th. During the year there were up to 50 in Wontford Road, Purley. This species was also reported from a similar percentage of open spaces.

Stock Dove Stock Doves were reported from 10 gardens during 2005, which is about the average for the past few years. 16 open spaces had Stock Doves present at least once during the year and they were reported regularly from several of them. This was an increase on last year’s 11 open spaces. The maximum reported count was of 21 at Riddlesdown in March.

Woodpigeon Woodpigeons were found in 99% of gardens (131), which is the same as for the past few years when they have been absent from only one or two gardens. They are also being recorded more frequently. According to the Breeding Bird Survey, the population of Woodpigeons in the London area rose by 88% between 1994 and 2005. They were also reported from all open spaces. Earlier in the year 245 flew over Lloyd Park on March 7th and 160 over Shirley Park Golf Course on March 9th. October saw 147 over Lloyd Park on October 4th, 150+ over Heavers Meadow, 150 over Queens Road Cemetery (on 18th) and 200+ over Park Hill (on 23rd) the same day as more than a hundred flew over Sanderstead. Then in November 200+ were over Selsdon Wood and the record count for the year was 650 over Pittville Gardens, SE25 on November 5th. Autumn is a time when, typically, flocks of Woodpigeons can be seen moving out of London, especially earlier in the morning. Records of large movements of Woodpigeons (and any other species) would always be welcome.

Collared Dove Collared Doves were reported from 96% of gardens (127), which is up from last year’s 93% (131). During the course of our survey the percentage of gardens with Collared Doves has ranged from 90% (in 2001) to 96% (in 1998 and 2005). The Breeding Bird Survey indicates that there has been a 71% increase in the population of Collared Doves since 1994, but this does not appear to be reflected by our survey. Up to 17 were at Waddington Avenue (in January and May), 12 at Lime Meadow Avenue (in December) and 12 at Bramblewood Close (in August, September and December).

Turtle Dove One was feeding in a garden in Pollards Hill on April 29th.

Rose-ringed (or Ring-necked) Parakeet The expansion continues apace! In 2005 Ring-necked Parakeets were reported from a record 57% of gardens (75) against 48% (67) in 2004. This is the first year that they have been reported from over half the gardens. That should be compared to a mere 8 gardens in 1995. Although there was no repeat of last year’s massive high count of 100 birds, at least 15 were seen over Buttermere Gardens at dusk in December, 14 were at The Crossways in September and December and 12 flew over Hetley Gardens in December. At open spaces, up to 17 were at Lloyd Park in December 13th.


Cuckoo Three gardens reported Cuckoos. There was one in Kenley on May 11th, one in Pollards Hill on July 28th and one in SE19 on an unrecorded date in either May or June. The only other record was of one at South Norwood Country Park in April.

Little Owl One was photographed in a garden in SE19 on September 15th. One was heard at Ashburton Park on April 15th. Little Owls were seen at the usual site in Lloyd Park until February, after which time a works compound was established nearby! They were also reported as being present at New Addington, but no specific location or date were given.

Barn Owl One was seen near Vulcan Way, New Addington on November 18th.

Tawny Owl Tawny Owls were reported from 15 gardens in 2005. This was down from 19 the previous year, but still about average. The maximum count reported was of up to three near Markfield in January and December. They were also occasionally reported from various open spaces and one was heard from St Peter’s Church Hall on February 14th. This species almost certainly remains under-recorded in Croydon’s open spaces due to understandable lack of coverage at night!

Short-eared Owl One was seen at South Norwood Country Park on September 23rd.

Swift Swifts were reported from 61% of gardens (81), which is an improvement on the all time low of 56% (79) of 2004. There is still some way to go to get back to the average of around 66% of gardens and even further to match the high of 73% in 1995. The Breeding Bird Survey shows a decline in population of 22% since 1994 in England (11% for the London area).

Swifts by Mike Netherwood

The earliest date reported was at Cricket Green, Mitcham with four there on April 29th, but five other gardens also recorded Swifts in April. High counts reported from Virginia Road, Thornton Heath were 30 in June, 40 in July and 60 in August. 50 were seen at Markfield on May 23rd. In July there were 58 at Palace Square SE19, 46 at Holmesdale Road, SE25, 40 over Mollison Drive and 40 over Burleigh Avenue. Records of potential breeding sites came from Mayfield Road, Sanderstead and Reddown Road, Coulsdon. We were also informed about the provision of a nest box on a house near Brickfields Meadow, although it had not yet been occupied.

Kingfisher Most records came, as usual, from South Norwood Country Park where Kingfishers were seen on various dates during the year, but there was no suggestion of breeding activity. There were also records from Waddon Ponds in February and South Norwood Lake in August.

Hoopoe One was seen briefly at Heavers Meadow on September 1st.

Wryneck For the second year running there was a record of this rare visitor to Croydon. One was at South Norwood Country Park on September 13th and 14th.

Green Woodpecker Green Woodpeckers were reported from 57% of gardens (75), which was down from 62% (88) in 2004. Although this was the lowest since 2001 there is still no real cause for concern. This figure is still much better than at the start of our survey when they were reported from 43% of gardens in 1995 and 50% in 1996. They were also reported from 30 open spaces (71%) with a regular presence at many of them, which was a slight increase from last year’s 27 open spaces.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpeckers were recorded at 79% of gardens (104), which was slightly up from 77% (108) in 2004 and was the best since our survey started. Indeed, there appears to have been a gradual upward trend since 1995 when Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from just 52% of gardens. This fits in with the Breeding Bird Survey, which shows a 102% population increase between 1994 and 2005. As usual there was a distinct peak in the middle of the year when almost 2/3rds of gardens were visited, often by adults taking young birds to feeders. One at Church Way, Sanderstead was attacked by Great Tits after destroying their nest box. They were also seen at 32 open spaces (76%). This was similar to last year’s figures. At Purley Beeches records from their usual location dropped significantly after several large trees were cut down (for safety reasons) during May.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from just two gardens in our survey and information was received from a third. They were recorded on several dates between February and May at Markfield, one was visiting a garden at Kingswood Way for about a fortnight in late May and one was in Farleigh Road in August. Also reported from 4 open spaces – Selsdon Wood (in January, February and April), South Norwood Country Park (in January), Lloyd Park (on March 7th) and Bramley Bank (two on April 28th).

Skylark Skylarks were reported from four gardens, which was the best for some time. They were regular in spring, summer and late autumn at Markfield and in summer at the Dutch Village, Coulsdon. Both of these are close to sites where Skylarks are known to nest. The others were over Pollards Hill in October and December and over Briton Hill Road, Sanderstead in October. They were reported in most months and breeding at Farthing Downs and Riddlesdown. Skylarks were also recorded occasionally at South Norwood Country Park in both winter periods.

Sand Martin After a couple of blank years, Sand Martins were reported over Harbury Road, Carshalton in September and there were 12 over Purley Downs Road on September 27th. Sand Martins were still scarce at open spaces being seen only in spring at South Norwood Country Park (where there were five on March 31st and others in April) and Riddlesdown on April 30th.

Swallow Swallows were reported from 17% of gardens (23) up on 13% (18) in 2004 and the best for several years. The peaks in May and September reflect normal passage patterns. The first recorded date was April 16th at Fox Hill, Upper Norwood and also at Russell Hill, Purley. They were also recorded at 11 open spaces. Again these were mainly passage records, but there was a suggestion of breeding at Woodcote Grove stables.

House Martin At 20% of gardens (27) the status of House Martins was at the lowest yet in our survey. This was down slightly from 21% (30) in 2004 and only about half of the 41% (51) of 1995. There has been a general downward trend during that period. This should be compared to the Breeding Bird Survey, which shows a 20% increase in the House Martin population for England since 1994, although in the south east there has been a decline of 19%. The highest garden count reported was of 60 at Markfield on September 15th. Of some concern is the very low figure for June when House Martins were recorded at less than 5% of gardens. In previous years this figure has always been at 10% or more (with 25% in 1995 and 1996). This suggests that either breeding birds were very late in arriving or were completely absent from some areas. The birds from the colony near Sanderstead station/Mayfield Road were certainly late arriving with the first sighting there being on June 18th (despite observations most weekday mornings prior to that). Breeding activity was also reported from Onslow Gardens, Sanderstead, where over 15 birds were seen in July and August and the Meadow Hill area where they were using artificial nests. The highest count reported from open spaces was of 50+ over Sanderstead station on September 15th (the same day as the high count from Markfield).

Meadow Pipit Meadow Pipits were reported from 7 open spaces, with breeding confirmed at Riddlesdown. They were regular in winter at South Norwood Country Park in small numbers. Other records came from Farthing Downs (in April), Heavers Meadow (in November), Lloyd Park (12 on January 19th), Purley Downs Golf Course (in December) and Shirley Park Golf Course (one on April 3rd). The only garden records came from Pollards Hill in autumn (August, September and October) with a maximum of 10 on September 29th. The maximum count reported was 30 at Riddlesdown on December 27th.

Yellow Wagtail Two Yellow Wagtails flew over Pollards Hill on September 3rd and another was there on September 8th. One was at Portnalls Close, Coulsdon on an unspecified date in October. Continuing the decline of this species in Croydon, there were no reports of Yellow Wagtails from any open spaces.


Grey Wagtail Grey Wagtails were reported from 10 gardens in our survey (with records from another four that were outside the survey), which was down from 12 and six respectively last year and the peak of 18-19 in 2002 and 2003. Numbers are slowly reverting to their previous levels, although the previous autumn/early winter peak is now extended throughout winter and into spring. One garden, in Pollards Hill, had regular sightings throughout the summer and two birds were seen in a Selsdon garden during May and June. A pair bred at South Croydon and another raised two broods near Vulcan Way, New Addington. Birds were fairly regular at the more typical sites of South Norwood Country Park and Heavers Meadow, but there was no suggestion of breeding reported from either.

Pied Wagtail At 30% of gardens (40) Pied Wagtails have been seen at much the same number of gardens as in recent years. As ever, the trend is for most garden records to be in winter months. Records relating to the flight path of birds passing over gardens soon after dawn and before dusk in winter would be welcome. Some sightings appear to relate to birds flying from or to the roost in the town centre. This included eight birds passing over Sanderstead early in the morning of October 11th that were heading directly out from the town centre. At both ends of the year the roost in North End gave counts of up to 250-300 birds. Pied Wagtails are known to have bred at George Street and Whitgift School. Apart from the town centre roost, high counts reported were of 22 at Long Lane Wood in January and 17 at Lloyd Park on July 5th.

Waxwing 2005 was by the far the best ever year for sightings of Waxwings in Croydon. There had been a major irruption into the country and, as the birds worked their way through further south they found their way into Croydon. To put this in context, although Waxwings have been seen in the previous two years, sightings are normally less than annual. The previous highest count was of eight at South Norwood Country Park in 2003 and even in the previous ‘invasion’ year of 1965-6 there was only a handful of records from Croydon. All the known records of birds in Croydon and immediate vicinity (with the exception of the flock that was seen in West Wickham) during 2005 are given here. • Three or four were in Boundary Road, Wallington on January 14th • Up to ten were in The Grange/Millers Pond area of Shirley from January 21st – 30th • 20 were seen in street trees in Rochford Way in mid-February • 18 were at Brickfields Meadow on February 20th • One flew over Melville Avenue, South Croydon on February 22nd • About 15 were near Sanderstead station on February 22nd • One was in Highland Road, Purley on an unrecorded date in February • There were about 20 at the junction of Ampere Way/Beddington Farm Road on March 2nd • Approximately 50 were opposite Therapia Lane tram stop on March 4th • 30+ were on Beddington Farm Road, near Stirling Close, on March 7th • About 60 flew over Lloyd Park on March 7th • 40+ were at Heavers Meadow on March 8th with 20+ on March 9th • 16 flew over Pollards Hill on March 15th • About 10 were in Maryland Road, Thornton Heath on March 15th & 16th • About 12 were seen (and photographed) in Norfolk Avenue, Sanderstead on March 20th where they were using a bird bath • About six were at Jasmine Court, Wallington on March 24th • 24 were in Whyteleafe station car park on March 31st (just outside borough) • Nine were seen in Woodcrest Road, Purley in late March or early April (but no exact date was recorded)

The sightings from Ampere Way, Therapia Lane and Beddington Farm Road must relate to the same birds and perhaps also those from Pollards Hill and Maryland Road. It is more than likely that several other records also relate to the same birds as flocks can wander some distance and may break up and regroup, so we may never know exactly how many birds were involved.

Wren Wrens were reported from 86% of gardens (114), which was slightly up from 82% (115) in 2004. This represents a small increase since the start of our survey. The Breeding Bird Survey showed a 37% population increase in London since 1994. They were also reported from 38 open spaces (90%).

Dunnock Dunnocks were reported from 93% of gardens (123), an increase from 87% (also 123) in 2004. This is the highest yet and has put Dunnock into our top ten for the first time. There has in fact been an overall upward trend in reports of Dunnocks during the course of our survey, having been at just 73% (90) in 1995. This may be due more to increased awareness of this species’ presence as the Breeding Bird Survey shows that effectively there has been no real change in population since 1994 in both London and the south east. Dunnocks were also reported from 27 open spaces (64%), which was slightly down from 2004.

Robin Robins were reported from all 132 gardens in the survey, whereas last year they were apparently absent from one. There is, however, no real observable change for this species in our survey. They were also seen at 40 open spaces (95%). Common Redstart A male was at Queens Road Cemetery on April 19th.

Black Redstart One was seen at Vulcan Way, New Addington from October 17th to 31st, with a maximum of four there on October 18th.

Whinchat Two Whinchats were at Riddlesdown on April 30th and there were also records from South Norwood Country Park in April, May, August and September (including one on September 20th). One was seen on allotments adjacent to Heavers Meadow in September. Just outside the borough, one was at Farleigh Golf Course on October 21st.

Stonechat Records came from Farthing Downs in March and South Norwood Country Park in March, with up to three there in September including one on September 6th), October and November.

Wheatear A male was seen in a garden in Brownlow Road on the unusual date of June 27th. One was at Lloyd Park on April 3rd. A male was seen at Brickfields Meadow on April 24th. One was at Riddlesdown on April 30th, the same day as there were six at South Norwood Country Park. The only autumn records came from South Norwood Country Park in August and October.

Ring Ouzel A male was reported from Greencourt Gardens on October 22nd. There was also an unconfirmed report of one at Clyde Road at about the same time (and may even refer to the same bird).

Blackbird After apparently being absent from one garden for each of the previous three years, blackbirds were once again reported from every garden in the survey. Several double figure counts were reported and, rather surprisingly most of them were outside the usual peak time of late winter. 11 were in Briton Hill Road (in late December) and there were 10 in Russell Hill (February and March), Portnalls Close (in July), Hurst Way (in October) and Lodge Road (in October). Blackbirds were also reported from all but one of the open spaces.

Fieldfare Fieldfares were reported from 23% of gardens (31), which was up slightly from 21% (28) in 2004. In line with recent years Fieldfares appeared in about 20% of gardens either side of the turn of the year. Some ‘large’ counts were reported in the first quarter. 100 were at Kingswood Way (in January), 40 at Falconwood Road (also in January) and 30 at The Crossways (in March). 16 open spaces reported Fieldfares with a late spring sighting at Queens Road Cemetery in April. The first known record of autumn was of two at South Norwood Lake on September 30th. High counts were of 70+ at Riddlesdown in January and 50 over South Norwood Lake on October 6th.

Song Thrush Song Thrushes were reported from 77% of gardens (101), which was a slight increase from 74% (105) last year and at the same level as 1995. Although there has been some fluctuation over the year this is about average. 31 open spaces held Song Thrushes. As usual, records dropped off dramatically after July before picking up again in December.

Redwing 2005 was the best year since 1997 with Redwings turning up in 57% of gardens (75) well up on 46% (65) in 2004. More gardens than usual reported them in January and February (when they were seen in over 40% of gardens). Although the records for October and November were about average, December’s figures did not build up as expected. High counts came from Briton Hill Road with 50 on January 1st and October 16th, Brookscroft with 50 in February, Hurst Way with 40 in January and The Crossways with 30 in March. Redwings were also reported from 31 open spaces (74%), which was the same as for Song Thrushes. Hundreds were reported flying to roost at Selsdon Wood in January. Other high counts included 100+ at Lloyd Park in February and 50 there on October 4th. 80+ were recorded at Riddlesdown in March, 68 were at Shirley Park Golf Course in March. Counts of 60 came from Colescroft Wood in January and Park Hill Rec in March.

Mistle Thrush Mistle Thrushes were reported from 35% of gardens (46), which was well up from 27% (38) in 2004. This was the best since 2000 (38%), but still down on the 48% of 1995. This reflects the Breeding Bird Survey data, which shows a slight (4%) increase in the English Mistle Thrush population between 2004 and 2005 with a decline of 18% since 1994. The population in the south east showed a 37% decline between 1994 and 2005. They were also recorded at 26 open spaces (62%), the same number as in 2004.

Sedge Warbler As far as can be ascertained there was, once again, no evidence of Sedge Warblers breeding in Croydon during 2005, although they were present at South Norwood Country Park in April, May and June. In autumn two were at Heavers Meadow on August 10th, with one there on September 13th.

Reed Warbler Once again a few pairs bred at South Norwood Country Park. Away from that site one was singing at Lloyd Park on May 18th and one was at Heavers Meadow on August 12th.

Lesser Whitethroat Lesser Whitethroats were rather scarce at open spaces in 2005. Apart from South Norwood Country Park, where they were recorded between May and September, the only other reports were from Shirley Park Golf Course and South Norwood Lake (both in May). There was just one garden record (from Forestdale) in June.


Common Whitethroat Once again Whitethroats were potentially breeding at Farthing Downs, Heavers Meadow, Lloyd Park, Park Hill Rec, Riddlesdown, Selhurst Triangle and South Norwood Country Park. Other records came from Brickfields Meadow (in May and August), Hutchinsons Bank (in May – but not surveyed after that) and South Norwood Lake (in May). There was also one singing in Dingwall Road (near East Croydon station) on April 23rd. Whitethroats were reported from four gardens – Palace Square (in April), Markfield (in May and June), Harbury Road, Carshalton (in August) and The Pines, Purley (on August 19th). There was also one in Westgate Road, SE25 on May 8th.

Garden Warbler The only regular presence of Garden Warblers was reported from South Norwood Country Park where they were around from May to September. Elsewhere, Garden Warblers were at Riddlesdown (in April and May) and Heathfield and Hutchinsons Bank (both in May). There were two garden records – one was at Markfield in June and occasional records from Pollards Hill in April, May and June.

Blackcap Blackcaps were reported from 42% of gardens (56), which was similar to the previous two years. Although there were many winter records, the peak was in March, which would be due to a combination of lingering overwintering birds and early arriving summer visitors. There were records from 23 gardens in January, 27 gardens in February, 9 gardens in November and 20 gardens in December. 25 open spaces (60%) reported Blackcaps with a breeding presence at many of them. This was up on 2004 and Blackcap remains our most widespread warbler species. Winter records came from Lloyd Park (a female in January), Purley Beeches (a male on February 19th) and Brickfields Meadow (a male on December 31st).


Chiffchaff Chiffchaffs were reported from 19% of gardens (25), down slightly from 21% (30) in 2004, but still about average. Once again there was a distinct peak in September as birds migrated. There was a winter record of one in Keens Road, Croydon on December 28th. The earliest reported dates were March 22nd at Virginia Road, Thornton Heath, then March 24th at Woodplace Lane, Coulsdonbut there were other March records from Hetley Gardens, Pollards Hill South, Purley Downs Road, Brookscroft, Markfield and Lower Barn Road. Although down slightly from 2004, our second most widespread warbler was reported from 22 open spaces (52%). There was a breeding presence at many of them, although for some the records clearly related to passage only birds. This included two at Heavers Meadow on March 14th. Winter records included one at Heavers Meadow on November 30th and at Lloyd Park on December 13th and Park Hill Rec on December 25th.

Willow Warbler 2005 was the second worst year for Willow Warblers in our garden survey. They were reported from four gardens, split between spring and autumn. The worst year was 2000 when they were reported from just three gardens. This year was well below the usual 6 to 8 gardens. The maximum counts of 10 and 11 gardens were all in the 1990s. Perhaps this is a reflection of the 56% population decline in the south east since 1994 shown by the Breeding Bird Survey. The first of the year was reported on March 28th from Pollards Hill. It was also a poor year for Willow Warblers at open spaces, with only five having records. At least one pair bred at South Norwood Country Park and it is likely that Willow Warblers also bred at Riddlesdown. One was at Addington Hills on April 2nd (with three there on August 26th), one was at Sanderstead Pond on April 13th and another was at Kings Wood in April.

Goldcrest Goldcrests were reported from 38% of gardens (50), which was similar to the 39% (55) of 2004. As usual most records related to Goldcrests in the first and fourth quarters of the year when local birds are supplemented by those coming over from the continent for the winter. They were also seen at 27 open spaces (64%) with a breeding season presence at several including Farthing Downs, Purley Beeches, Purley Bury Bowls Club, Riddlesdown, Sanderstead village (where a family party was seen by the Pond on July 9th), Selsdon Wood and South Norwood Lake. This species probably continues to be under-reported as the usual limited survey of streets in Sanderstead again produced several territories.

Firecrest One was in Goodwin Road on January 22nd. There were singles in Hetley Gardens, SE19 on a couple of dates in March. And one was at Fernhurst Road, Addiscombe in late February or early March. There were no records from open spaces.

Spotted Flycatcher There was one garden record in 2005, which was an improvement on the complete absence from gardens in the previous three years. Amazingly, it involved a pair that took up residence in the Dutch Village for the summer although, sadly, there was no evidence of actual breeding. There were two records from open spaces. One was seen at Addington Hills in August and two were at Lloyd Park on August 25th.

Pied Flycatcher One was at Farthing Downs on April 11th and another was at Addington Hills on August 26th.

Long-tailed Tit Long-tailed Tits were reported from 87% of gardens (115), which was well up on 80% (113) in 2004 and was the best year yet. Long-tailed Tits were seen in more than 2/3rds of gardens in March, which was also the best month yet. They were also seen at 30 open spaces (71%). The highest count reported was of 30 at Addington hills on July 13th.

Marsh Tit Marsh Tits were seen throughout the year at Markfield, with up to three birds present, and were also fairly regular at Brookscroft, both of which are immediately adjacent to Selsdon Wood. Away from these one or two were seen regularly at Woodcote Valley Road, one was at Aldercroft in August and one was at Keens Road, Croydon on December 18th. They were also reported from both Piles Wood and Devilsden Wood - Farthing Downs (in April), Kenley Common (in July), Kings Wood (in February and October), Sanderstead Cemetery (one on December 22nd) and Selsdon Wood.

Coal Tit Coal Tits were reported from 79% of gardens (104), which was up again from last year’s high of 77% (108) and well above the 60% (75 gardens) of 1995. They were present in about half the gardens in May and June compared to about a quarter in 1995. This increase appears to contradict the 11% population decline in the south east since 1994 shown by the Breeding Bird Survey. There was a failed breeding attempt in a nest box in Buttermere Gardens, although the birds did breed successfully nearby. They were found at 17 open spaces (40%) during the year. Although only one site (Addington Hills) had records from all months, it is likely that Coal Tits bred at other sites as well.

Blue Tit Once again Blue Tits were reported from all gardens in the survey. In Westfield Avenue a squirrel was seen sitting on top of a nest box where Blue Tits had young and killed birds going in and out. They were also reported from 40 open spaces (95%).

Great Tit Great Tits were seen in a record 98% of gardens (129), up from 95% (134) in 2004. The hole of a nest box being used by Great Tits in Westfield Avenue was opened up by a Great Spotted Woodpecker to get at the young. They were also recorded at 36 open spaces (86%).

Nuthatch Nuthatches were reported from 52% of gardens (68), up from last year’s high of 48% (68) and the first time they had been reported from more than half the gardens. This continues the upward trend from just 21% (26) in 1995. The Breeding Bird Survey has shown a 35% population increase in the south east since 1994. They were also recorded at 24 open spaces (57%) with a breeding season presence at Addington Hills, Farthing Downs, Foxley Wood, Kings Wood, Lloyd Park, Riddlesdown and Sanderstead Plantation among others. A July record from South Norwood Country Park was unusual as, indeed, is any record of Nuthatch from there.

Treecreeper Treecreepers were reported from 12 gardens, which is in line with recent years. One flew into a window in Kingswood Way, but survived the ordeal. They were also reported from nine open spaces. Although elusive at all of them, two Treecreepers were seen at Addington Hills on January 21st and March 24th.

Jay Jays were reported from 93% of gardens (123) recovering from last year’s low of 89% (126). The highest garden count reported was of 10 at Woodmere Avenue in August. They were also recorded at 35 open spaces (83%), an increase on 31 last year.

Magpie Magpies continue to hold one of the top spots in our survey having been reported once more from every garden. They were reported from 39 open spaces (93%) during the year. The usual winter roost was present at Farthing Downs/New Hill. Although the count from there in late December was lower than in recent years, at 150, this was almost certainly an underestimate.

Jackdaw 28% of gardens (37) was well up on last year’s 21% (30 gardens) and is better than the previous high of 24% (34 gardens) in 2003. In 1995 only 11% (14) reported Jackdaws. The Breeding Bird Survey showed a 30% population increase in the south east since 1994. The highest reported garden count was of 30 over Purley Downs Road during November. Jackdaws were also reported from 13 open spaces, well up on last year’s seven. The most regular sites were Farthing Downs and Riddlesdown (where they breed in the quarry).

Rook The only Croydon record of Rook in 2005 was from Kings Wood in April.

Carrion Crow Carrion Crows were reported from 92% of gardens (122), which is about the same as in recent years although down slightly from the 95-97% of early years of our survey. This appears to go against the trend shown by the Breeding Bird Survey, which shows an 85% increase in the population of Carrion Crows in London since 1994. High counts reported were of 50 at Hetley Gardens in December and 30 to 40 at The Vale in January. 40 open spaces (95%) recorded Carrion Crows with high counts of 90 at Meadow Hill in June and 50+ at Parkfields in December.

Starling At 92% of gardens (122) Starlings seem to be at their lowest point in our garden survey having declined from 95% (134) last year. The high was 99% in 1996. The Starling population in London has dropped by 35% since 1994 according to the Breeding Bird Survey. 250-300 were seen in Virginia Road in late September and confused a hunting Sparrowhawk, There were 200 at Princes Avenue, Hamsey Green in September with 40 there in January, 50 in February and 70 in August. 60 were at The Crossways in March and ‘dozens’ at Shirley Avenue in November. Starlings were also reported from 35 open spaces (83%). High counts from open spaces included 300+ at Broadmead School, Sydenham Road in September, 200+ at Meadow Hill in October (with 90 there in June), 116 at Brickfields Meadow on July 5th, 100 at Queens Road Cemetery on November 3rd, 66 at Shirley Park Golf Course on June 1st and 50 at Heavers Meadow on June 14th and in Sanderstead on October 5th.

House Sparrow There is now a degree of stability for House Sparrows in our garden survey. Although the 61% of gardens (81) was down on 64% (90) in 2004 there has been no major decline since the 63% of 2001. Prior to that there had been a general decline each year from the 91% of gardens in 1995. Since 1994 the Breeding Bird Survey has recorded a 65% fall in the London population of House Sparrows. The apparent stability may, however, be masking a continuing decline as several gardens specifically noted that the ‘presence’ of House Sparrows was down to a single visit from a single bird, which is hardly the formula for recovery. By far the best garden counts came from Holmesdale Road with 70+ in September, 60+ in August, October and November and 50+ in December. The next highest was of 30+ at Fairlands Avenue, Thornton Heath in October. House Sparrows were also reported from 17 open spaces (40%). Although this was higher than last year’s 13, Parkfields was included by virtue of a single bird that was present in May. The highest reported count from open spaces was of 50+ at South Norwood Country Park on June 14th.

Chaffinch At 87% of gardens (115), Chaffinches had their best standing since the start of our survey. This was well up on the 77% of 2004 and even beat the previous high of 82% in 2003. There is now a regular breeding season presence of Chaffinches in about half our gardens compared to a third in 1995 (when just 65% of gardens reported the presence of Chaffinches at any time during the year). This fits in well with the Breeding Bird Survey, which shows that the Chaffinch population in London has more than doubled (up by 107%) since 1994. Chaffinches were reported from 29 open spaces (69%) in 2005, which was down from last year’s 33. Brambling Bramblings were reported from two gardens in 2005. Singles flew over Sanderstead on October 15th and over Pollards Hill on October 24th and November 22nd. Four or five were at The Ridgeway (near Waddon Ponds) on October 26th and there was a record from Stoneyfield Shaw, Coulsdon on October 28th and 29th.

Greenfinch As for Chaffinches, Greenfinches were reported from a record high of 90% of gardens (119) in 2005 compared to 84% in 2004 (the previous high). In 1995 only 77% of gardens reported Greenfinches. Again, this fits in with the Breeding Bird Survey, which has seen a 126% increase in the Greenfinch population of London since 1994. High counts reported were of 30+ in Briton Hill Road during August and 26 at Woodland Gardens during November. Greenfinches were reported from 30 open spaces (71%) during the year, which was about the same as last year. They were present at more than half the open spaces during the breeding season.

Goldfinch Outstripping even Chaffinches and Greenfinches, Goldfinches were reported from 73% of gardens (97) compared to the record high of 65% in 2004 and just 34% in 1995. For the first time ever, Goldfinches were reported from half the gardens in a single month (April) and were present in at least 40% during the breeding season compared to just 10% in 1995. There are no Breeding Bird Survey data for the change in London’s Goldfinch population since 1994, but in the southeast the population has increased by just 4% (and by 19% for the whole of England). Do our figures reflect a genuine increase in the local Goldfinch population or are they being increasingly attracted to our gardens by sunflower hearts and nijer seed? The highest garden count reported was of 58 preparing to roost in December at Westfield Avenue, Sanderstead (with counts of 16 in January, 10 in February and 27 in November). Other double figure counts included 30 at Markfield in December (with 14 in January, 16 in March and 18 in November), 13 at Buttermere Gardens in November and 10 at Portnalls Close in April, May and June. On June 7th two were seen eating cornflower seeds at Oaks Road, Kenley. Goldfinches were also reported from 27 open spaces (64%), which was well up on last year’s 19! High counts reported included 40 at Riddlesdown in August and 20 at Heavers Meadow in September and October. There was a ‘steady stream’ over Sanderstead station on November 16th and at least 16 passed over there on December 12th.

Siskin 2005 was the worst year for Siskins since 1996, with records from only 6% of gardens (8) during the whole year. Indeed, taking the early part of the year (when Siskins are most usually present in gardens) it was by far the worst. Numbers in gardens normally peak around March as birds appear in gardens while making their way back to their northern breeding sites. This also applied in 2005, but this was due to the presence of a single bird in just one garden in Coulsdon during March!! Apart from that there was a late record of two at Keston Avenue in May. This year was partly salvaged by a better than average autumn/early winter showing, which hopefully bodes well for the start of 2006. This phenomenon was not restricted to Croydon. Siskins were generally absent from gardens during the first few months of the year. Only 3% of gardens in the BTO Garden BirdWatch recorded Siskins during January-March 2005 compared to 17% in 2004 and 31% in 1998 . (Our figures for those years are similar to the BTO’s being 16% and 40% respectively.) It is perhaps ironic that this low for Siskins coincided with the high for Waxwings. The only Siskins reported from open spaces were at South Norwood Country Park in November (with a high count of 20 on 28th and 29th) and December.

Linnet 2005 was a poor year for Linnets at gardens, with records from just two gardens. These were from Pollards Hill (in January, April and May) and Markfield (in April and October). Linnets were regularly reported from three open spaces – Farthing Downs, Riddlesdown and South Norwood Country Park. They were also reported from Heavers Meadow (in February, March and October) and Hutchinsons Bank (in March).

Lesser Redpoll Lesser Redpolls were reported from a creditable seven gardens (plus two more via ACCS) during 2005, spread over both ends of the year, although unusually there were no records in our survey for March or April. The highest count that came to light (through the ACCS Garden Wildlife Survey) was of 19 in a garden in Ridge Langley on an unspecified date early in the year. Although no numbers were given, ‘a flock’ was in a silver birch in Church Way, Sanderstead on February 16th. Five were seen at Markfield on January 21st. During February two were seen eating lavender seeds in a garden in Caterham Drive. These records should be seen in the context of the BTO garden BirdWatch, which suggested that (as for Siskins) Lesser Redpolls were in short supply in gardens early in the year . They were also recorded at five open spaces. Three were at Selsdon Wood on January 6th, South Norwood Lake (in January), Addington Hills (in March), South Norwood Country Park (in November) and four were at Heavers Meadow on December 16th.

Bullfinch 2005 was a better than average year for Bullfinches. They were reported from 32% of gardens (42), which was the best since 1999 (34%) and 2000 (32%). There was a noticeable influx into gardens during June and July, including five together in Oakwood Avenue, Purley during July. Bullfinches were also reported from 19 open spaces (45%), but were only seen fairly regularly at Addington Hills, Farthing Downs, Purley Beeches, Riddlesdown and South Norwood Country Park.

Hawfinch One was reported from a garden in Croham Park Avenue on several (unrecorded) dates later in the year. Although no real description was received for this scarce visitor to Croydon, it is of interest to note that there was an influx of Hawfinches into this country during the autumn of 2005.

Yellowhammer Yellowhammers were reported from two gardens in our survey and three more in the ACCS survey. There was a pair visiting Tandridge Gardens from March into June, up to three were visiting Woodplace Lane, Coulsdon between February and June, one was at Princes Close, Hamsey Green on July 4th and two were at Kingswood Lane, Hamsey Green on July 12th. These sightings are perhaps not unexpected as they are close to breeding areas at Riddlesdown and Farthing Downs (which were the only open spaces to report Yellowhammers in 2005). Less expected was a record of one or two Yellowhammers visiting The Ruffets, South Croydon between February and October.

Reed Bunting The only place to record Reed Buntings throughout the year was South Norwood Country Park where one or two pairs bred. Other records came from Heavers Meadow and Riddlesdown (both in January).


Escapes and other records

Unidentified waders Three large waders, thought to be Whimbrel, but not specifically identified, flew over Lodge Road on July 24th.

Black Swan A pair was present at Waddon Ponds throughout the year and attempted (unsuccessfully) to breed.

White (farmyard) Goose Regularly reported from Waddon Ponds.

Red-crested Pochard The usual male was again seen at Waddon Ponds on many dates in January, May, July, August and December. This was presumably the same bird that was recorded at Beddington Sewage Farm during the year. There was also a male at Sanderstead Pond on April 14th and 15th.

Cockatiel One was seen near Purley Beeches on May 20th.

Canary One was seen in Byron Avenue, Coulsdon in February.

Senegal Parrot One was seen at South Norwood Country Park between November 21st and 25th at least.

Parrot species Two unidentified parrots, described as being deeper green than Ring-necked Parakeets with no tail and a yellow belly were seen at The Grange, Shirley on January 20th and a few days later. They were also seen on April 18th.

Monk Parakeet A first known record for Croydon, two were seen in Pollards Hill South on August 10th.

African Hoopoe One was reported from Croham Park Avenue in July, but no description has been received.

Peacock One was at South Park Hill Road on March 9th and it (or another) was at Ballards Way on March 12th.

Red-shouldered Widowbird One was seen and photographed in a garden in Upper Norwood during July.

Yellow Weaver One was at a garden in Addiscombe on March 31st.