21 December 2012Margravine Cemetery, Fulham, London, UKBird count. Scroll down below or click here for the monthly tables.

The monthly bird count has a pleasing predictability about it, yet it brings some exciting surprises from time to time.

In January 2015 we also took part in the RSPB’s hour long Bird Watch – recording how many of each species can be held in view at any one time to avoid any over count. The highest number was 10 blackbirds followed by 8 wood pigeons. The list for 2015 included robin, blackbird, wood pigeon, mistle thrush, feral pigeon, redwing, greater spotted woodpecker, long-tailed tit, dunnock, blue tit, great tit, ring-necked parakeet, greenfinch, wren, coal tit, crow, jay and starling.

The seasons

The winter months are often cold first thing, yet are good for visibility – with no leaves on the trees. Spring is full of birdsong from our resident bird population and nest building and feeding of young. We have a number of thick hedges that provide cover despite the high foot fall – commuters walking between tube and hospital or home, and good cover from the high population of squirrels always ready for an egg or two. August becomes the quiet month when bird song drops to its lowest, and autumn the birds are hopefully building up strength for winter. We often see wood pigeons and others gorging on berries. Seasonal visitors include the large flocks of redwing (with fieldfare intermingled) that we have had visit in recent years around the January/February time, the swifts overhead from May until end of July and the flocks of starlings when the areas of long grass begin to set seed.

Common sightings

There is a group of birds that we always see and who hold territory. This includes blackbirds, crows, blue tits, great tits, robins, wrens, wood pigeons, feral pigeons, magpies, dunnocks, goldfinches. We often see jays, long tailed tits, ring necked parakeets, starlings, greater spotted woodpeckers, chaffinches, greenfinches, mistle thrushes, (the occasional song thrush) and fieldfares amongst the redwings in winter. From time to time we see goldcrests and also coal tits – and recently sparrows in the nesting season.


Above us there are often gulls and cormorants from the nearby Thames – and the occasional sparrow hawk or kestrel, but we don’t count these. The most spectacular of the birds of prey are our two peregrine falcons that rear their young on a balcony on Charing Cross hospital. We see them perched on one of the down pipes watching us as we record them. Occasionally we see a bird blown off course and landing briefly in the cemetery such as the spotted fly catcher (June 2013).

How the count is done

We carry out the bird count at the same time of day once a month, and walk the same course – clockwise around the perimeter starting from the north gate. It usually takes 90 minutes to 2 hours. Certain species are harder to record as they move around a great deal. We make an educated guess of who we have counted already, sometimes going by how many we can see at any given time. This tends to include crows, wood pigeons, feral pigeons, redwings, goldfinches and long tailed tits. We find the birds often by sound, picking up song and then stopping and looking carefully for the bird we expect to see. Movement, even in leafy trees, is very useful, and a knowledge of what habitat different species favour – starlings in the grass, blackbirds on the ground under the hedges, wood pigeons in the big trees, smaller birds in the shrub and hedges, robins begging to be seen. We also know different parts of the cemetery favoured by different birds, and who we expect to see on the birdfeeders in neighbouring gardens over the wall. We don’t record if not sure, but we do make a note of those heard but not seen.

Record holders

Who holds the records? The smallest bird is the goldcrest, the largest is the female peregrine falcon. One of the loudest is the wren! The biggest flocks are the feral pigeons and visiting redwings. The bird most consistently with the biggest count apart from pigeons, is the blackbird (15 to 40+) with numbers swollen by influxes of visitors and juveniles in summer. The dramas in the cemetery include competition for nesting holes particularly in the past between great spotted woodpeckers and ring necked parakeets, both of which incidentally, have provided a meal for the falcons. Over the years, we are building up a good picture of the bird population of the cemetery.

Bird Count 2016 (and 2015)


 January 2106February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016
Details10th January
Bight, cold. 6C
7th February
Chill wind 6C sunny
13th March
Misty hazy
10th April
Cold sunny 2C
8th May
Warm sunny 19C
12th June
Dull then rain
Blackbird222925232826 inc. 2 young
Blue tit121199108 inc. 3 young
Coal tit

110110 but 1 heard
Feral pigeon522140273125
Goldfinch15 probably more12171283
Great tit128107813 inc. 1 young
Greater spotted woodpecker120010
Long-tailed tit622200
Magpie321415 inc. 5 young
Mistle thrush001000
Peregrine falcon
(on hospital)
1 on hospital - saw off an intruder01123 on hospital - inc. 1 fledgling
Redwing6 first this year1010000
Ring-necked parakeet138311
Robin896101311 inc. 1 youg
House Sparrow200000
Wood pigeon273416131711
Wren0 - 1 heard10446
Other visitors
0000113 overhead
Sparrow hawk000100
Black cap000000
Green woodpecker111000
 January 2105February 2015March
Details11th January
Sunny, cold. 4C
8th February
Sunny cold 4C
8th March
Sunny cold 11C
Sunny 12C
sunny 15-18C
14th June
Dull/drizzle 15C
Blackbird2224231828 (Inc. 3 fledglings)21 (mostly males)
Blue tit1079857
Coal tit

Crow10 - in 2 groups64 (inc. one with nest building material435 Inc. 2 young
Dunnock0 (but seen recently)12351
Feral pigeon441720492320
Great tit914101286
Greater spotted woodpecker121100
Greenfinch100 (1 heard)211
Long-tailed tit2430 (1heard)00
Magpie8 (inc. group of 7)33223
Mistle thrush215 (inc. 2 parents feeding 3 young)210
Peregrine falcon
(on hospital)
2 (on hospital)1 (on hospital)1 (on hospital)02 (Still incubating eggs that will not hatch, no chicks this year)2 (on hospital)
Ring-necked parakeet323321
Robin910910 (inc. 2 fledglings)11 (Inc. 2 chicks, 1 juvenile8 (Inc. 2 separate young)
House Sparrow000100
Wood pigeon25
Wren435 (plus 1 more heard)34 (2 more heard)6 (Inc. 3 young, more heard)
Other visitors
00003 - newly arrived1 (overhead)
Sparrow hawk000000
Black cap020000
Green woodpecker001000
 12th July 20158th August 201513th September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015
DetailsDull. 20Csunny intervals 18CDull. 11Csunny 9CCloudy. 15C
Blackbird19 (Inc 4 young)21222113
Blue tit5 (Inc 3 young)10997
Coal tit

Crow1 (+ 1 heard)4554
Feral pigeon53193317 (Poss more)88 (2 flocks)
Goldfinch61 ( inc. juveniles)1515 (Poss more)19
Great tit9 (Inc 4 young)77616
Greater spotted woodpecker01 (juvenile)010
Greenfinch000 (1 heard)11
Jay01 (juvenile)10 (But heard)2
Long-tailed tit0000 (But heard)1 (heard more)
Magpie2137 (Poss more)4
Mistle thrush00120
Peregrine falcon
(on hospital)
2 (on hospital)2 (on hospital)1 (on hospital)02 (on hospital)
Ring-necked parakeet4 (Inc 2 young)1 (more than 1 heard)30 (Heard)7
Robin5 (Inc 1 young + 1 heard)5994
House Sparrow00000
Wood pigeon5 (a very low count)
152213 (Inc. several juveniles)17
Wren2 (Inc 1 young +2 more heard))11 (1 more heard)20 (3 different individuals heard)
Other visitors
3 above00
Sparrow hawk000
Black cap00000
Green woodpecker01 (juvenile)00 (But recent)0
Pied wagtail0100 (Wagtails heard)0