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Wednesday June 12th 2024

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Birds in Martley


It is always difficult to say what species of birds can be seen in any area, such as Martley Parish. Due to the mobility of the species, almost any bird on the British list could appear. There are records of sea birds, such Gannet and Little Auk being found in Worcestershire, even Black-Throated Diver’s, birds of the Scottish lochs arrived at a gravel pit below Stourport.

Woodland Birds

However, in local woodlands, all three species of Woodpecker can be seen, Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Jays and Woodcock are amongst our resident breeders. Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiff-Chaff are some of the spring/summer breeding birds in the same woods. In more recent years, birds of prey have become more prominent, with most gardens being visited these days by Sparrow Hawks.

Birds of Prey

The Common Buzzard is once again a common sight over Martley. In 1955 only one pair of these birds nested in the Parish, on Berrow Hill. It has also been rumored in 2011 that the Ked Kite has been seen to the north of our parish.
Peregrine Falcons have been breeding in the Teme Valley at Shelsley since before 1993. It is possible that they now breed within the parish boundary.
Another under a recorded falcon is the Hobby, Britain,s only long-distance migratory falcons, that look like a large Swift and about the size of a Kestrel. It feeds on Swifts, Swallows and Martins, which it catches in flight. I often see them around the church, when the local Swifts are massing prior to migration.
Kestrels’ are the commonest of our birds of prey, they breed regularly at a number of sites in the area, this is the only falcon or hawk that hovers on a regular basis. We often see them sitting on telephone wires.


Of the British Owls, there have been regular records of all five. The commonest owl is the Tawny, and it inhabits almost all woodlands in the parish of reasonable acreage. It favours the mixed woods but will spend its days asleep in conifer plantations.
Little Owls are common, and these small owls like the open countryside with large old trees along the hedgerows, old pollard oaks, its favourite.
Barn Owl populations have always had a tendency to fluctuate in the Martley area, once it could be seen quartering the church meadows or hunting the hedgerows of the B roads through the village. Six or seven years ago, a couple of regular breeding pairs were within our parish boundary. Attempts have been made to reintroduce them, but met with mixed success.
The Short- eared Owl is a bird of open moorland, where it breeds amongst the heathers. In winter it moves to the lower ground and often over winters in the parish. Shooting parties, locally have flushed them from fields of sugar beet.
The Long-eared Owl is a bird of the conifer forests, but moves to farm land, especially orchards, in the winter months. Its main food in winter is the flocks of winter thrushes that feed on fallen apples. Long-eared owls often roost in Leland conifers.

Water birds

Due to the lack of large bodies of water, only the commoner species of water birds are found regularly: Moorhen, Mallard, Heron, Canada Geese are the most prominent. Mute Swans have had a number of attempts to nest in the village but are rarely successful. Along the river Teme, Kingfishers breed, so do Grey and Pied Wagtail. The dipper, is a small bird of fast rivers was once a common bird along the Teme between Shelsley and Knightwick, with at least four breeding pairs to be found. They are rare today and there has been no breeding records along the parish for a number of years. Herons have been reported on private land to the north of the parish, fishing in a small pond.

I have records, collected over more than 50 years, of 147 different species of birds seen in the Martley village and Berrow Green area. Of the more unusual is an Osprey, fishing along the Teme, with another seen over Willow Green in 1995. A Hoopoe was seen on Berrow Hill in 1953. A Black Redstart was found in St. Peters church yard, and a Two Barred Crossbill fed on the bird table at Barbers in 1989. In the autumn of 2002 a Manx Shearwaterwas found dead in the Teme meadows at Kingswood.

By kind permission of Brian Draper M.B E

2005. Updated 2011