About

The Friends of Windsor Open Space

We are an informal group of local people who formed Friends of Windsor Open Space (FoWOS) to protect and enhance this delightful expanse of Metropolitan Open Land which lies between Thornton Avenue and Hendon Lane.

Formed originally back in 1997 to fight off a plan by Thames Water to build a storage sewer under the Open Space with a haul road alongside the Dollis Brook. Today, we defend the Open Space against any development or encroachment which would spoil its rural character. We also aim to protect it from vandalism and grafitti, dumping of rubbish, dog fouling, pollution of the Brook and other hazards.

We take positive steps to enhance the park both for people and for wildlife, in association with the Council and other bodies

We meet regularly to organize events such as wildflower planting, dawn chorus walks, litter picks, hedge maintenance. We also organize a mid-summer evening social.

The Windsor Open Space

Windsor Open Space is owned by the London Borough of Barnet and is open to the public at all times. Dogs can be walked here, as long as they are kept under control. The footpath is for the benefit of walkers, not cyclists.

This is a beautiful informal open space, much loved by the residents of Finchley. The Dollis Brook runs through it. Some parts are wooded, others have extensive areas of grass (some mown, some left uncut to benefit wildlife). It has a network of footpaths (including a stretch of the Brookside Walk). There is a playground for the enjoyment of children under 14 years.

Long ago, Windsor Open Space was part of Groats farm (subsequently known as Grass Farm), and sheep once grazed here. In 1907 part of the land was bequeathed as a play area for poor children by Dame Alice Holt, more land was acquired by the Council in 1922 for public enjoyment and recreation and in 1938 Mayor Wolfie Grossman donated land adjacent to Broughton Avenue. All this makes up what we enjoy today.

In spring it is a riot of blossom. 67 different birds have been recorded here. Kingfishers, ducks and moorhens can be seen along the Brook, woodpeckers, jays and tawny owls live in the woodland. You might even catch sight of a heron or sparrowhawk. On sunny days dragonflies can be seen at the water’s edge and many butterflies flit across the grasslands.

CHECKLISTS OF THE BIRDS OF WINDSOR OPEN SPACE AND VICINITY 1983-2017

1. Birds which use (or have used) the area for nesting, feeding, resting or shelter

Includes Dollis Brook and its adjacent open space and all gardens bordering it from Dollis Road in the north to Hendon Lane in the south. Also includes the gardens of houses in Holders Hill Gardens.

Checklist compiled from observations mainly by Jeremy Galton, September 1982 to December 2017.

Canada goose Very rarely seen in the brook and on the green open spaces. See section 4.
Mallard Common resident breeding in small numbers close to brook.
Mandarin duck Very rare visitor to the brook.
Tufted duck Very rare visitor to the brook See section 4.
Little grebe Very rare visitor to the brook.
Pheasant Rare vagrant. Occasional visits, so far only by females.
Little egret A newcomer, first seen 2009 and now a regular visitor. The frequency of occurrences has increased dramatically during the last three years. Up to three are sometimes feeding in brook.
Grey heron Frequent visitor to the brook. Up to three may be present.
Sparrowhawk Usually seen overhead but sometimes in trees in WOS. Probably breeds nearby.
Kestrel Occasional visitor.
Moorhen Common resident. Several pairs breed along the brook.
Snipe Rare. Only occurs in the coldest winters. No recent records.
Woodcock Very rare winter vagrant.
Black-headed gull Post-breeding (July-September) and winter (November-March) visitor. Our commonest gull.
Common gull Common winter visitor. Outnumbered by Black-headed gull by 10 to 1. October to April inclusive.
Herring gull A pair has established a long-standing territory in Holders Hill Gardens. Others visit throughout the year, probably from Staples Corner where they nest on roofs.
Lesser black-backed gull One or two birds often feed or rest on the green spaces at any time of year. Probably from Staples Corner where they nest on roofs (as for Herring gull). Numbers may be augmented in winter.
Feral pigeon Common resident. Closely associated with houses.
Stock dove Resident. A few pairs breed.
Woodpigeon Very common resident.
Collared dove Resident. Breeds in small numbers in gardens bordering WOS.
Ring-necked parakeet Common resident. A newcomer to WOS. Occasional visits from at least 1987, first breeding in WOS about 2012 and rapidly increasing in numbers.
Cuckoo Rare spring migrant.
Tawny owl Resident. One or two pairs have probably bred either in or close to the area although present status unknown.
Swift Common summer visitor (May-August). Several pairs breed under eaves of houses surrounding the area. Recent decrease.
Kingfisher Resident. Up to three birds can be present along the brook within WOS. Sometimes attempts to breed.
Green woodpecker Resident. A relative newcomer to the area (one or two pairs), first breeding c1995 Rarely seen prior to 1992.
Great Spotted woodpecker Resident. Breeds in small numbers.
Lesser Spotted woodpecker One or two pairs regularly bred until 1995 or 1996. No recent records.
House martin A former common summer visitor breeding in small numbers on nearby houses until about 1992. See section 4.
Pied wagtail Mainly a winter visitor in small numbers.
Grey wagtail Resident. One or two pairs are often present along the brook and may breed within the WOS stretch.
Dunnock Common resident, particularly favouring gardens and hedges.
Robin Very common resident, many breeding pairs.
Wheatear Rare autumn passage migrant
Song thrush Common resident.
Mistle thrush Mainly resident. One or two pairs breed.
Redwing Winter visitor (December-March), abundant in some years.
Fieldfare Uncommon winter visitor, occurring mainly in very hard weather.
Blackbird Very common resident, many breeding pairs.
Garden warbler Rare spring passage migrant
Blackcap Common summer visitor (April-August). Up to 6 breeding pairs. Common on spring passage.
Whitethroat Rare spring (and autumn?) passage migrant.
Lesser whitethroat Uncommon spring (and autumn?) passage migrant.
Reed warbler Uncommon spring passage migrant.
Willow warbler Uncommon spring and autumn passage migrant, decreasing. Has probably bred.
Goldcrest Resident. Two or three pairs regularly breed in conifers.
Firecrest Very rare vagrant.
Wren Abundant resident, many breeding pairs.
Spotted flycatcher Latest evidence of breeding 1995. No recent records.
Great tit Very common resident, many breeding pairs.
Blue tit Very common resident, many breeding pairs.
Coal tit Resident. A few breeding pairs in gardens adjacent to WOS.
Willow tit Possibly a breeding species until 1985. No records since.
Long-tailed tit Common resident.
Nuthatch Resident. One or two pairs regularly breed.
Treecreeper Present status not known. Last confirmed breeding 1992.
Magpie Common resident.
Jay Resident. One or two pairs probably breed in the area.
Jackdaw Resident. A recent colonist. Several pairs now breed.
Carrion crow Common resident.
Starling Common resident. Many pairs breed. Decreasing.
House sparrow Formerly several colonies (confined to houses and gardens). Possibly only one colony now remains.
Chaffinch Resident. Several breeding pairs.
Brambling Uncommon winter visitor.
Linnet Rare visitor. No recent records.
Redpoll Rare winter visitor. Formerly a common resident. Ceased to breed c1993.
Goldfinch Very common resident having increased since the proliferation of garden feeders.
Greenfinch Resident. Formerly a common breeding species. Recent dramatic decrease in numbers.
Siskin Winter visitor mainly December-March. Common some years. Frequent at feeders.
Bullfinch Very rare visitor. A former not uncommon breeding species until 1994/5 and sporadically to at least 2001.
Reed bunting Very rare vagrant
Yellowhammer Very rare vagrant
2. Birds lost: species that have ceased to breed in the area
House martin

 

Ceased to breed Holders Hill Gardens 1992 and probably elsewhere locally also.
Spotted flycatcher Latest evidence of breeding 1995. No recent records.
Willow tit Possibly a breeding species until 1985. No records since
Treecreeper Present status not known. Last confirmed breeding 1992.
Redpoll Ceased to breed c1993. Very few records since.
Bullfinch Regular breeding species until 1994 or 1995. Few sightings since then.
3. Birds gained: species that have begun to visit or breed during the period 1983-2001
Little egret

 

First occurred in the brook in 2009. Exponential increase in sightings since then.
Sparrowhawk

 

Rare until 1989. Well established by 1991, breeding either in WOS or nearby.
Ring-necked parakeet Occasional visits by parakeets since the 1980s. Sightings increased in frequency from about 2005. First breeding in WOS about 2012.
Green woodpecker Rare until 1992. Established as a breeding species by about 1995.
Jackdaw Occasional 1980s and 1990s. Began to breed locally about 2005. By 2017 has become a common resident and post-breeding flocks of up to 25 birds can be seen.
4. Birds only or mainly seen flying over the area with at least some regularity
Canada goose Most records February to May inclusive, although few in recent years.
Tufted duck Occasional sightings, all in summer. Usually flies just over treetop height along course of brook.
Cormorant Not uncommonly flies high overhead almost invariably in an east-west or west-east direction. More frequent in winter.
Red kite A few recent sightings. Likely to increase in the future.
Buzzard A not uncommon wanderer. Frequency of sightings increasing.
Hobby Uncommon spring and autumn passage migrant. Many summer sightings over WOS when hobbies bred in Mill Hill
Lapwing Birds from the Continent regularly used to fly over heading west in June and July. Considerable decrease in numbers. No sightings in recent years.
Common tern An occasional wanderer from Brent Reservoir or Hampstead Heath ponds.
Skylark Autumn passage migrant, mainly October and November, when single birds occasionally fly over the area.
Swallow Common spring and autumn passage migrant.
House martin Common spring and autumn passage migrant.
Meadow pipit Autumn passage migrant. Migrating individuals sometimes pass overhead in October and the last week of September.

© Jeremy Galton 2017

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