Quantock Birds

AONB New nest boxes

  • AONB New nest boxes

The Quantock Hills are special place for birds. The Quantock Rangers put up nest boxes to encourage rare birds to live here. Here are just some of the birds you might see when you visit the Quantocks, including BIRDS Of PREY and MIGRANTS (summer visitors)

Green Woodpecker

  • Green Woodpecker

The green woodpecker is also called a yaffle because its call sounds like a yaffley laugh. It eats insects and is particularly fond of ants.

Great spotted Woodpecker

  • Great spotted Woodpecker

Great spotted woodpeckers are black and white, with red caps. They make a loud drumming noise with their strong bills, hammering away at dead trees or telegraph poles. They nest high up in trees in holes that they excavate for themselves.

Linnet

  • Linnet

Linnet. In Victorian times, linnets were caught and sold as caged birds, because of their musical song. They like to eat plant seeds. Their name comes from ‘lin’, the old name for flax, which was thought to be their favourite food.

Meadow pipit and Tree Pipits

  • Meadow pipit
  • Tree pipit

Meadow pipits and Tree Pipits are small brown songbirds. They like open countryside and build their nests hidden in vegetation or at the edges of meadows.

Nuthatch

  • Nuthatch

Nuthatches have strong pointed bills and a distinctive eye-stripe. They feed on nuts, seeds and bark-living insects and are the only birds that can hop down tree trunks as well as up. They nest in holes in trees or walls and fill any gaps with mud.

Partridge

  • Partridge

Partridges are plump, sedate-looking game birds. They build their nests on the ground, hidden by tall grass, or corn, or under a hedge. When they are disturbed they leap suddenly into the air making a lot of noise to warn other partridges. Their main predators are people who shoot them in the autumn for sport.

Stonechat

  • Stonechat

Stonechats. The call of a stonechat sounds like two pebbles being banged together. They live in gorse heathland and stay in Britain all year round.

Skylark

  • Skylark

Skylarks are plain brown birds famous for their loud song which they sing from high in the sky. They like open countryside and build their nest on the ground.

Raven

  • Raven

Ravens are the largest member of the crow family. People used to kill them: they thought they brought bad luck because they eat dead meat (carrion), and in past time they would feed on the corpses of people who had been executed. They are now quite rare. They are intelligent, expert at aerobatics and have a deep, hoarse, croaky call. They live in isolated craggy places, like cliffs or old quarries.

Treecreeper

  • Treecreeper

Treecreepers feed on the insects they find in tree bark. They have long claws to grip the tree trunk, and stiff tails to balance them while they pick out insects with their long thin curved bill. They live in Britain all year round.

Warblers

Warblers are a group of small shy insect-eating birds with distinctive songs. Several types of warbler live on the Quantocks.

Chiffchaffs

  • Chiffchaffs

Chiffchaffs are in the warbler family. They have a loud two-note call, which gave them their name. They build their feather, or hair or fine grass-lined nests in brambles or bushes, hidden by leaves. They migrate south in the winter, sometimes as far as Africa.

Willow warbler

  • Willow warbler

Willow warblers are determined little brownish-yellow birds which migrate 4,000 km each year all the way to southern Africa. They build their nests on the ground.

Wood warblers

Wood warblers are yellowy green with a bright yellow chest. On the Quantocks, they can be found in sessile oak woods. They build grass-lined nests on the ground. By September they have all left for Equatorial Africa.

Blackcaps

Blackcaps are warblers that like living in brambly, wooded areas where they find insects and caterpillars to eat. They build their nests well hidden in bushes. Males have a jet black ‘crown’ which gives them their name.

Finches and tits

Finches and tits are found in woodland, gardens and hedgerows all year round.

Birds of Pray

Buzzard

  • Buzzard

Buzzards are the most common large birds of prey in Britain. They like to circle in the rising warm air by hills, scanning the ground for small mammals which are their favourite food.

Kestrel

  • Kestrel

Kestrels are common predators. You can see them hovering motionless before they drop like a stone, to pounce on small mammals.

Peregrine falcons

  • Peregrine falcons

Peregrine falcons are efficient killers of other birds. They circle high in the sky watching other birds in flight, like pigeons. Then they drop like a stone, at speeds of up to 290 km/hr, breaking their prey’s neck instantly. They make very simple nests high up on cliffs, quarry sides or even sky scrapers.

Migrants are birds that only visit the Quantocks in the summer.

Pied flycatcher

  • AONB nest box for pied flycatcher

Pied flycatchers are a very rare sight in Britain. The Quantock Rangers put up nestboxes to encourage them. They are small black (or brown) and white birds, which migrate from Africa. They eat insects and caterpillars which they find on leaves, in tree stumps and dead branches.

Redstart

  • Redstart

Redstarts are easy to recognise as they have bright orange-red tails. ‘Steort’ is old English for ‘tail’. They build their nests in holes in stone walls or tree, and migrate to Africa in the autumn. Wheatears arrive from Africa in March, feed on insects, and like to live on heathland. The name wheatear comes from two Anglo Saxon words ‘hwit (white) and oers (rump).

Whinchat

  • Whinchat

Whinchats are small migrant birds from Africa. ‘Whin’ is a word for ‘gorse’ and whinchats like to live in heathland with bracken and gorse. They build their nests hidden in bracken and the males like to perch on posts where they sing loudly and look out for flying insects.

Nightjars

  • Nightjars

Nightjars. At night the cry of a nightjar sounds like a small engine revving up. In the daytime, they lie motionless on the ground, looking like a bundle of dead leaves. They lay their eggs on the ground. Nightjars migrate from Southern Africa, to open areas like the Quantock hills. They fly at night time, catching flying insects in their wide-open bills.