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Image by Felix Rostig

Dagnam Park, Common Bird Census. 1972


The British Trust for Ornithology, (BTO) Introduced the Common Bird Census (CBC) in 1961. It was intended to record the populations of songbirds on a yearly basis allowing it to monitor changes in breeding bird populations across Britain..............

Songbirds (passerines) are very territorial in the breeding season and males defend their territories and pronounce ownership by singing throughout the season. The census is carried out by making a series of visits covering the whole area a minimum of eight times from the end of March until June. On each visit a 26 inch map is filled in with all relevant bird sightings and these can be fairly numerous. Singing males, aggressive contacts, flight paths, nests, birds carrying food are the most important sightings that are recorded. On returning home all the information is copied from the visit map to the individual species maps. At the end of the survey the species maps are assessed and the number of territories can be recorded.

 In the species maps below the red circled and numbered territories are indicative and do not necessarily reflect the actual size or shape of the territory. An attempt was made to estimate some none passerines and some colonial nesters were left out of the survey, Tree Sparrow for example. In all I spent 125 hours in the field between the 28/3/72 and 17/6/72. A total of 199 nests were found of numerous sp. Below you will find a table of the breeding birds along with all the species maps in alphabetical order and a description of the park’s vegetation characteristics in 1972.

Below each map there is a graph showing the population trends for each species over the past 50 years. These graphs are mainly for the UK but some are for England only.  Although local factors can have a significent effect the graphs give a good idea of general trends. These graphs are taken from the BTO trends site referenced below. There is a huge amount of further information on those pages.

N.B. Indices are plotted on the graphs as annual estimates, with a smoothed trend and its 85% confidence interval. The CBC started on farmland in 1962 and on woodland in 1964. However, the early years of the CBC population indices are strongly influenced by the effects of the unusually severe winters of 1961/62 and 1962/63, as well as by developments in methodology (Marchant et al. 1990). Joint CBC/BBS indices have been calculated using only the data from 1966 onward, therefore, and population changes are calculated back to 1967.

Del Smith

For more detailed information see

Dagnam Park

Main species of trees and shrubs and description of habitat in 1972.


 Dagnam Park and the area of farmland to the north for which the purposes of the survey I have included as part of the park, comprises of a total area of 266 acres. Bordered on the northern side by farmland as is the eastern boundary. Hatters wood is bordered by a G.L.C housing estate and small gardens. Part of the south east section and the fir wood is bordered by a golf course and playing fields. There are three deciduous woods within the park, the osiers (10.29 acres), the fir wood (8.52 acres) and the largest, hatters wood (33.93 acres). There are also several groups of trees which act as wind breaks. The osiers is mainly oak with ash, hawthorn, hornbeam being well represented, there are also a few beech and birch and two or three conifers at the north east comer. The undergrowth is rather sparse with low bramble cover along the river banks and at the western edge of the wood. The fir wood consists of a wide mixture of deciduous trees, ash, oak and hawthorn predominate. There is a thick undergrowth of bramble, briar, hawthorn, elm scrub, blackthorn, bracken and fallen branches. There are several well-worn paths through the wood but some parts are too thick to penetrate. The eastern edge of the wood is bordered by a golf course. Hatters wood is almost entirely deciduous. Main species being hornbeam, oak, sycamore, horse and sweet chestnut and beech roughly in that order. There is also a group of willows in the far western corner.


Other species represented in small numbers include holly, holm oak, cherry laurel, maple, hawthorn, cherry, elm and ash. Secondary tree growth is very poor, the area being devoid of vegetation apart from areas of well established ground flora. Bluebells being the most notable but anemone, celandine and dogs mercury are well represented in spring. However there are some bushes (hawthorn and bramble) on the edges of the wood bordering the housing estate. The wood itself is descrubbed periodically which does tend to hinder secondary growth. However in the mid western region there is some sycamore scrub and in the northern section and the thin strip there is quiet good cover from low elm scrub.


There are 11 ponds of measurable size these totalling 3.3 acres. The largest being .71 acres. The three main ponds between them amount to 1.35 acres. The "green" pond on the edge of hatters wood is shallow and has a few flags to one end. The perch pond .28 acres has thin yellow flag down one side. The lily pond .56 acres was once an ornamental pond and in summer is covered in yellow lilies. About half of the lake is covered in very dense flag, reed mace and rushes. The other seven ponds are almost entirely covered with flags and reed mace and some shrubs, osiers, willows etc. Weald brook forms the northern boundary. It makes up an apx 633 yard boundary, we are only interested with the southern bank. The brook is lined with a good variety of trees alder, willow, poplar, hazel, hawthorn, oak, beech and hornbeam. It is also well covered with other herbs and long grasses. On both sides of the brook the land use is similar, being used mainly for hay and grain except of course where it passes the osiers.


There are ten fields that broadly surround the park proper. To the north these belong to two separate farms and this year have been used in rotation for grazing, except two which were used for hay. A large part of the area is used for football and cricket pitches, etc., this area is of course close cropped grass. The meadows area between the fir wood and the track was allowed to grow and some large patches of very long grasses and wild flowers could be found here. Altogether there are about nine acres of scrub, one adjoining the northern end of the fir wood which was particularly good containing a thick growth of hawthorn, bramble and briar, with much long grass. The larger field to the east of this has scattered bushes and long grass right up to the side of the old walled garden, which is surrounded by a thin strip of trees. These are chiefly sycamore, chestnut, oak with some elm. The area enclosed is overgrown with much bramble, briar and long grass. To the south east of the walled garden is an area that long ago housed Dagnams, this is the site of the lily pond mentioned previously. The old mansion garden area is rich in ornamental shrubs and trees. Including rhododendron, laurel, yew, and some conifers. The area has a good ground cover of brambles and briar and some hawthorn. It is all of course long overgrown. there is a track running through the park which from about halfway is bordered by trees including some very old and now dying elms. From the walled garden westwards there is a thick hedge on either side mainly hawthorn and bramble, with many well established trees, copper beech, elm, oak, holly and a few ash among others.

Veg characteristic map with legend reduced.jpg

Click PDF to view 1972 Bird

Census of Dagnam Park, Maps and Data

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