Our breeding bird and winter flock surveys and nest recording are revealing just how rich the scrubland of the Southern Block is for songbirds.
Thorny scrub (a habitat now almost totally erased from the wider countryside) provides nesting habitat for a remarkable number of nightingales and yellowhammers (one of our most rapidly declining farmland birds, with a drop of 60% nationwide since 1960), and incredible numbers of lesser whitethroats. In 2016, more lesser whitethroats were ringed in one field at Knepp than in any one year in the whole of Hampshire. Whitethroat, recently delegated to the Red List of endangered birds, is one of the most prevalent with 256 breeding territories recorded in a comprehensive bird survey of the Southern Block in 2019.
The complex scrubland habitat also provides opportunities for chiff-chaffs and skylarks. In the autumn the Wildland is a staging-post for blackcaps, chiffchaffs, willow warblers, reed warblers, lesser whitethroats and whitethroats as they head south for the winter. Berries and insects found in the scrub provide a crucial food source for these birds as they build up layers of fat for their long migration.
Autumn bird-ringing in the scrub has turned up rare passage migrants such as a grasshopper warbler, tree pipit and redstart that we may otherwise not have encountered.
In autumn and winter, large numbers of redwing roost in the scrub and can be seen feeding on the scrubland berries, and worms and insects in the more open pastures, during the day. An extraordinary number of bullfinches breed and winter in the Southern Block, feeding on leaf and flower buds and seeds.