The Fascinating World of Birds at CHL

>>The Fascinating World of Birds at CHL

The Fascinating World of Birds at CHL

2016-11-23T10:23:50+00:00 20th April 2015|Garden Blog|

Only a few miles from Gilbert White’s Selborne, where bird watching is said to have been invented, two of our Visiting Fellows have been keeping a keen eye on the birds that sing, swoop, hop and nest around the estate.

During their breaks from studying the rare novels and manuscripts in the Reading Room, Sayre Greenfield and his wife Linda Troost have been exploring the gardens and catching sight of the wonderful birdlife around this spring – which includes a Firecrest, Greenfinch and a Mallard on the roof!

Read Sayre Greenfield’s blog below, which includes a full list of the birds spotted here at Chawton House Library. We hope you enjoy the images of the beautiful spring we are enjoying, particularly those of the escapee lambs who thought the grass was greener on the other side of the fence!

Birds of Chawton House Library

by Sayre Greenfield

Sometime of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Chawton House Library Visiting Fellow

Oh to be in England now that April’s there – or here, as it happens, since I am in England while the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough in England now. My wife Linda Troost and I are both fellows at the Chawton House Library for the month. We spend much of each weekday in the reading room, examining late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century novels, treatises, and manuscripts. Today, she was looking at an 1819 novel about Robin Hood, and I was reading Thomas Gisborne’s Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (with a 1797 inscription by Jane Austen’s sister-in-law on the flyleaf).

RoofDuckBut before and after each day’s session, we head into the estate surrounding the library, ours to wander while we stay here. Only a few miles from Gilbert White’s Selborne, where birdwatching was invented, I look around to see what birds persist after the two centuries since his time. The garden behind the converted Chawton House Stables where we are staying has blackbirds and robins on the lawn, a wren hopping around the base of the old well, and a dunnock skulking in the shrubbery. The tops of the cherry trees, wearing white for Eastertide, have goldfinches chasing each other, the occasional greenfinch giving its long zweeeeeer call, and, of course, chaffinches. This morning, we woke up to the vision of a mallard calmly perched on the roof line of a house bordering our garden—how a duck lands on a roof ridge, I can’t imagine, but there it was.

escapee lambs escapee lambs 2

The fields surrounding the buildings are filled with sheep, shire horses, rabbits, thirty or forty woodpigeons, an equal number of jackdaws, and a few crows. Oddly, no rooks. A half-hour’s walk to Farringdon and there are rooks; at Selborne there are rooks; none here. Swallows swoop low over the fields, having arrived back on 12 April. The house martins haven’t yet returned from Africa, but any day now. The fields also produce a song thrush here, a mistle thrush there, a green woodpecker, and pied wagtails running among the twin lambs.

isaacThe woods beside and behind the Chawton House Library contain a variety of birds, still visible since the trees have not leafed out: blue tits, great tits, nuthatches, goldcrests, and, one day last week, a rare firecrest (as impossibly tiny as the goldcrest but with a bolder white eyestripe below an orange crown). Hiding better in the dense yew trees behind St. Nicholas’ Church are a pair of long-tailed tits, collecting fibres for their nest.

Larger birds are present, too: kestrels are nesting in a treetop nearby, and a pair of buzzards seem established hereabouts, as one or both together are visible soaring every day. When we arrived, a red kite swooped low over the Great House, a bird that has very successfully been re-introduced to central England after having persisted through the twentieth century only in Wales.

Here is my bird list since my arrival for future visitors who want to know what birds are present:

  1. Mallard
  2. Ring-necked Pheasant
  3. Red Kite
  4. Common Buzzard
  5. Eurasian Kestrel
  6. Common Woodpigeon
  7. Stock Dove
  8. Green Woodpecker
  9. Barn Swallow
  10. Pied Wagtail
  11. Eurasian Wren
  12. Dunnock
  13. European Robin
  14. Common Blackbird
  15. Song Thrush
  16. Mistle Thrush
  17. Common Chiffchaff
  18. Goldcrest
  19. Firecrest
  20. Long-tailed Tit
  21. Blue Tit
  22. Great Tit
  23. Eurasian Nuthatch
  24. Eurasian Treecreeper
  25. Eurasian Jay
  26. Eurasian Magpie
  27. Common Jackdaw
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Common Chaffinch
  30. European Greenfinch
  31. European Goldfinch