BIRDS AT THE MUSEUM!

Our lightly managed woodland, fields and historic gardens at the Museum provide an ideal and varied habitat for over 50 species of birds. The coppiced woods are cared for traditionally, our fields and meadows abound with wild plants, and our gardens full of herbs, vegetables and flowers from 1,000 years of husbandry are a great attraction for animals of all kinds. 

Visitors can quickly spot some of the more common birds as they wander through our beautiful downland site – the Mallards, Coots and Moorhens on the millpond, the Rooks on the lookout for easy pickings (and insects in our thatched roofs!), and many of our much-loved smaller species such as Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks and Goldfinches.

A closer look will reveal Nuthatches and Treecreepers in the woods, Blackcaps and Goldcrests/Firecrests on the woodland edges, and of course Song Thrushes and Blackbirds seeking snails and worms.  On the pond we have seen Little Grebes, last autumn and winter, and back again this August.  Swallows and House Martins zoom across the surface of the pond and fields, and twitter up high above us, seeking nutritious insects during the summer. 

Red Kites and Buzzards are now regulars in our airspace, and the occasional Sparrowhawk flies through at speed hoping to catch easy prey.  Watch and listen out for Great Spotted Woodpeckers seeking insects and territories in our mature trees and for Green Woodpeckers after ants out on the grassland: in the winter months Hawfinches in the Hornbeams in the woodland are a real treat. 

The historic buildings are themselves a magnet, as birds can find homes in these traditional structures in a way that is increasingly difficult for them in our modern houses. Swallows have long made use of Titchfield Market Hall and the open cattle sheds to bring up their broods, and this summer woodpigeons have been busy making their untidy nests of twigs high up in the roof timbers of Cowfold Barn. 

We have been honoured to provide a home for Barn Owls in the past, notably at Court Barn, and they have also been seen on window ledges at the medieval house from Sole Street – let’s hope they are back with us again soon. What will you spot on your visit – we’d love to hear from you!

Diana Zeuner

August 2020