Great spotted woodpecker
We are fortunate to have in our area a good numbers of woodlands to go looking for birds. In fact much of the area was part of Windsor forest until development necessitated clearing of huge swathes of the tree-scape.
Whilst many of our commoner garden and farmland birds might also be found in woods, there are some species that tend to spend more time within the canopy. These include the distinctive nuthatch, a hole-nesting bird that takes up last year’s woodpecker nest cavity to raise its young. The secretive and cryptically-plumaged treecreeper is another arboreal specialist as are of course our three woodpecker species, the green, great spotted and lesser spotted. Bullfinches may be found, particularly around the woodland edge, as will be the delightful goldcrest.
In summer, chiffchaffs are regular nesters and with good fortune, spotted flycatchers might take up residence. In winter, flocks of chaffinches and greenfinches are often joined by colourful Scandinavian bramblings, whilst mixed flocks of blue, great and long-tailed tits may occasionally number up to 100.
What’s happening to woodland birds around Maidenhead?
The amount of woodland locally has remained fairly stable, but recent outbreaks of tree diseases may signal difficulties for some birds in the years ahead. Also, by national policy, many evergreen trees are being removed from local woods, reducing their diversity somewhat and affecting populations of siskin and redpoll numbers.
Unfortunately we have lost our local nightingales and even willow warblers tend nowadays only to sing briefly here before moving further up country to breed. Two previously regular woodland tits, the willow and marsh, have declined dramatically, as have the lesser spotted woodpeckers and tree-nesting starlings. However, some species are doing well, including greater spotted woodpecker, ring-necked parakeet, woodpigeon, and chaffinch and the scrub areas within the canopy are excellent for thrushes, blackcaps, garden warblers and occasional whitethroats.
More recently, red kites and common buzzards have taken to our woodlands for nesting and nest boxes installed for tawny owls stand to enhance their population over time.
What can I do?
You could join the Woodland Trust to support their work (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/) or even consider volunteering for their local work parties.
Perhaps ‘adopt’ a woodland, by visiting one regularly and recording what plants, birds and creatures you find, and maybe offer this service to anyone who owns private woodland nearby (nearly 20% of the UK’s small woodlands are in private hands).
Become familiar with tree diseases and monitor your local tree-scape for signs, www.forestry.gov.uk/treediseases.