Throughout the year the Park is a haven for bird life of all sorts whether the familiar residents or occasional migrants. And with 2,000 acres and divers habitats such as chalk downland and beech woods the variety can be staggering.

Regular visitor and one time staff member Mike Wearing has been out and about recently with camera in hand looking at the Park’s birds of prey.

These two species are not easily seen particularly around the main facility areas and visitors will need to get to know the site well or to attend one of the many guided walks that are put on by the rangers or volunteers.

The sparrowhawk is perfectly adapted to hunting other birds in confined species. Having evolved for woodland work this adaptation suits suburban gardens and it is the bird of prey that you are most likely to see at home.

The males are smaller and can tackle birds up to starling size whilst the female is much larger, seen here with an adult wood-pigeon. Unless the hawk has caught something and is on the ground you only generally get a fleeting visit. Often the pile of feathers from the recently plucked prey is the only sign of what has taken place.

The barn owl is much harder to see being less common and largely night flying. Prey species are chiefly rodents and this bird prefers the grassland and open woodland areas.

The most likely place to spot one is if you are taking part in an evening barbecue on the lower slopes of Butser at the Cannonball or Coneyacres sites.  

On Sunday the 12th May there will be a chance to see many of our bird species on the annual Dawn Chorus Walk. This starts at the crack of dawn (4am), and ends with an organic bbq breakfast cooked by the volunteers.

 The walk must be booked in advance from the visitor centre on 02392 595040. Cost £6.00 per person.