Bird’s Eye View, March 2022 – By John Birkett, RSPB Croydon Local Group


John Birkett, from RSPB Croydon Local Group writes:

I am writing this having just returned from a walk on Riddlesdown. That is the best place to find Skylarks in Croydon, although there are times that I despair for their future. Renowned for its aerial song flights, this species nests on the ground and relies on the large grassy areas at Riddlesdown, as well as those at Farthing Downs and Kenley Aerodrome. One big problem for them is that people see those spaces as somewhere to wander over or into which they can throw balls and sticks for their dogs to chase. And that can cause disturbance to the nesting larks.

At Riddlesdown, over the past couple of years I have noticed more paths, often ‘cutting the corner’, being worn through these grasslands. Whilst this may not seem to be a big deal as these new paths are quite narrow, they are reducing the undisturbed areas into smaller and smaller parcels, meaning the birds will have to nest closer to the paths. Added to that, dogs running through the larger areas will again cause problems.

There are many notices up on Riddlesdown explaining about the birds and urging people to stick to the footpaths and to keep dogs on short leads. Unfortunately, on this morning’s walk not one dog was on any form of lead, let alone a short one. Since lockdowns began we claim to have become more aware and appreciative of the natural world. Ironically, with more people enjoying the countryside and exercising their dogs we are in danger of becoming agents of its destruction.

We share the world with wildlife, please don’t ignore requests that are designed to help it.

We share the world with wildlife, please don’t ignore requests that are designed to help it. I want my grandchildren to grow up and appreciate the wealth of wildlife we can see on our doorsteps and everyone can play their part in helping that come to fruition – please!

While Skylarks may be in danger, another species is re-establishing itself in Croydon. For many years, Jackdaws were mainly restricted to the area around Riddlesdown, but they are now being seen more widely around the borough. And they are even using what became common nesting sites by exploring, and setting up home in, chimney pots. Having said that, they will also nest in holes in trees, which are more natural for them. In the winter, large numbers of Jackdaws root overnight on Mitcham Common. Research is being carried out to establish whence come those birds. If you see any flocks of Jackdaws flying over your house at dusk or dawn, we would like to know the location, time, direction of flight and roughly how many birds are involved.

Learn more about RSPB

We would love to know what you see in your local area by emailing and to find out what has been seen recently you can check out the Croydon Birders website.

To find out more about the RSPB Croydon Local Group please visit our website ( and hopefully you can come along to one of our meetings and meet us in person.

Future meeting dates:

Monday, June 13, 2022: No meeting.

Monday, July 11, 2022: “Travels across Mongolia”- Barry Wright.

Mongolia is the world’s largest landlocked country that does not border a closed
sea, and much of its area is covered by grassy steppe, with mountains to the north
and west with the Gobi Desert to the south. Barry Wright returns to Croydon with
tales of his exploits camping and trekking around this vast ancient land. His
encounters capture some amazing scenery with plenty of birds and other wildlife.

Monday, August. 8, 2022: AGM plus an in-house speaker (tba).

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