A bird's eye view of Warwick's Priory Park

Dave Skinner is a member of FOPP (Friends Of Priory Park). With many people taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch last weekend, here is his bird life review of 2019 of the hidden green and historical gem of Warwick.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 4:30 pm
The old quarry at Priory Park. Photo by Dave Skinner

The bird life in Priory Park, Warwick, last year has had its ups and downs, no doubt similar to the national picture. The regular favourites continue to thrive in the park.

The nuthatch (my personal park favourite), the greater spotted woodpecker and to a lesser degree, green woodpecker continue to be present and breed successfully. The most prolific birds make the difference every day in the park with the beautiful song of the blackbirds and robins, together with the antics of the wren, great tit and blue tit.

It looks like the buzzards settled this year, regardless of the constant bullying of other birds, and I’m 90 per cent sure have finally bred in the park having regularly seen a pair established. It is a wonderful sight to see them wheeling around above the park and now more regularly able to perch in the trees (even with the constant rattle of the other annoyed birds around them).

Dawn at Priory Park, with St Nicholas church in the background. Photo by Dave Skinner

Talking of new birds in the park, though they have been around before, it appears the beautiful jay have most likely bred in the park. Amazing to think that a pink bird with blue flashes is around in the park, though not often seen, more often heard with its screaming call.

Together with the foraging magpies, crows, infrequent jackdaw and the occasional deep croaking raven, the jay adds up to an impressive list of corvids (crow family) in the park.

The world’s fastest animal, the peregrine falcon, can be seen from the park perching on St Mary’s church tower quite often now and this year has seen one (two at the start of the year) remaining throughout the seasons.

It’s sad to see that the mistle thrush has not bred this year and the finches, apart from the goldfinch perhaps, continue to be sparse.

A buzzard in in Priory Park. Photo by Dave Skinner

Looking into 2020, at the start of the year look out for the grey heron, and if you’re very lucky a kingfisher down by the brook at the bottom of the park. The winter months see the visiting redwing and occasional fieldfare thrushes. spring brings the chiffchaff and blackcap (listen out for the odd wintering ones too) and in the summer swifts, swallows and house martins doing acrobatic maneuvers in the sky.

Go out in the night time and you have a chance of hearing the tawny owl and frequently fluttering bats in the evening too.

There are many more birds that frequent the park that you just need to watch out or listen for. Not only birds, but check out the rest of the natural diversity we have here on our doorstep – muntjac deer, foxes, rabbits and squirrels, an amazing number of varied species of trees and plant life, various butterflies and the summer song of the crickets and grasshoppers in the long grass.

Well worth a visit and a walk around, just a few steps away from the town centre. Check out this hidden green and historical gem of Warwick and see what you can find!Friends of Priory Park (FOPP) is a small but active volunteer community group that care for the beautiful Priory Park set near Warwick town centre.

We exist to make sure the park is looked after, working with Warwick District Council, and is available for all to use and enjoy for generations to come.

You can find more information on our website: www.foppwarwick.org