Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Urban Birding

Chestnuts Park, Tottenham - 0630hrs - cold, overcast, light airs - An overnight stay on grandparent duties in London resulted in an early morning round of the local park. Chestnuts Park is a standard London park, about 10 acres, complete with footy pitches, kiddies playground, tennis courts, a `conservation area` and loads of splendid London planes and limes (I always feel sorry for the planners who laid out these parks as they would never have lived long enough to see the trees in their full splendour). Even on a grey old morning there was plenty of activity in the park with joggers, dog-walkers, fast-walkers, rough sleepers rousing and two bearded men kneeling on prayer mats paying homage eastwards. Park life, in a nutshell a complete contrast to an early morning circuit of my local patch on the stony wastes of Dungeness.
Anyhow, variety being the spice of life and all that, I was keen to see what was about. On the playing field when I arrived a flock of 100 gulls comprised mainly Black-heads, but also 10 Commons, 2 Lesser-blacks and a Herring Gull. A couple of Canada Geese flew over and there was healthy population of House Sparrows in a shrubby corner of the park. Back gardens bordering the park delivered singing Robins, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Blue and Great Tits and even a lone Wren. On either side of the park 2 Mistle Thrushes were singing from the highest branches and a Pied Wagtail was running about on the patio by the cafĂ©. Magpies, Carrion Crows, Starlings and Woodpigeons were everywhere and  on my second circuit a pair of Goldfinches flew in twittering.
So, nothing earth shattering but a good start to my days urban birding with 23 species on the day list.

                                Finsbury Park, London

                                Egyptian Goose



                                Grey Heron

Finsbury Park, London - 1000hrs - Finsbury Park is one of the larger London parks and set on a hill with commanding views across the city to Canary Wharf and many other famous landmarks. The park dates back to Victorian times and has plenty of mature stands of timber, open spaces and a large ornamental boating lake which attracts a variety of wetland species.
As soon as we entered the park off Green Lanes I noticed a mixed flock of 100 Redwings and Fieldfares sat atop a group of poplars; to complete the thrush fest several Mistle Thrushes were in song and even a couple of Song Thrushes. Nearby a Nuthatch called along with a `drumming` Great Spotted Woodpecker and singing Goldfinches, while the raucous calls of Ring-necked Parakeets rang out across the park.
The species tally ramped up significantly as we approached the lake where all the expected feral waterfowl were present including Pochards, Tufted Ducks and singles of Dabchick, Egyptian Goose, Shoveler and Mandarin. A sickly looking Grey Heron was being hassled by the crows, two Cormorants perched on a tree trunk and bird of the day, a Grey Wagtail, showed on the island.
In summary ended up with a combined total of 48 species from both parks with the winter thrushes and Grey Wagtail of particular note.

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