The following is a list of birds seen in or over Mill Road Cemetery since 1984, up to August 2015. It includes a species found dead in winter (woodcock) but excludes exotic escapees seen (zebra finch and canary). On the list, but missing for many years, is the tawny owl; this was present until 1990, when it ceased to he heard in the Cemetery. In all the list includes 42 species.
The mix of tall mature trees, shrubs, brambles and ivy, with meadow flowers and tall grasses provides a diverse range of habitats and environments to suite many different species. Some are full-time residents, whilst others are only winter or summer visitors.
It is interesting to note that more species associated with non-urban habitats are now seen with greater frequency in the Cemetery – woodpeckers and jays, for instance. Similarly, summer residents such as the willow warbler, whitethroat and chiffchaff can be heard in the spring dawn chorus and throughout the summer months as they raise their families and prepare to migrate south for the winter. Winter visitors such as the fieldfare and redwing are drawn to the Cemetery for safe roosting and foraging sites, whilst pheasant and partridge have been seen during severe periods of cold as they come into the warmer city centre to forage for food. What was a common species, but now relatively few in number, the house sparrow, can be heard as one passes the large areas of bramble, as they shelter together from predators like sparrow hawk that are often seen flying over, or taking birds in, the Cemetery – a circle of feathers is often all that is left. With few other areas of thick scrub and ivy in the city, wrens, robins, blackbirds and thrushes, tits and finches all utilize the Cemetery and surrounding gardens, for breeding and foraging.
In that sense, the Cemetery is at the heart of a wider environment – the green lung that lets all Petersfield breathe.