Birds Of The Royal Parks
London’s 8 Royal Parks are home to a large number of birds and other wildlife.
Whether you’re a resident of the UK’s capital city or visiting on a short break, take some time away from the bustle of the streets to breathe in some cleaner air and see what you can spot.
Bushy Park, located near Hampton Palace, is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks. Its mixture of woods, gardens, ponds and grasslands make it an attractive tourist destination and a great place to enjoy wildlife and roaming herds of red and fallow deer.
There is a long list of birds to be found in Bushy Park, which includes all three of the UK’s native woodpeckers, kestrels, tawny owls and a range of waterfowl.
Kingfishers can be spotted along the banks of the Longford River and of particular importance are a number of ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, reed buntings, meadow pipits and stonechats, all of which are of conservation concern in the UK.
Although Green Park is the smallest of the Royal Parks, it is a popular destination for tourists, located as it is next to Buckingham Palace,.
Over 40 acres of mature trees and grassland lie in a triangle between Piccadilly and Constitution Hill and its tranquil environment in the heart of London makes it a peaceful location for picnics and sunbathing in fine weather.
Green Park has resident tawny owls as well as all round common visitors such as blackbirds, starlings, blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits. In the winter migrant birds like redwing and fieldfares may be spotted foraging in groups amongst the grass.
Greenwich Park, which is home to the Prime Meridian Line and Royal Observatory, is the most historic Royal Park and an excellent site for bird watching with over 70 species expected to visit the 74 hectare site over the course of a year.
More than 30 species of birds breed in the park including woodpeckers, tawny owls, thrushes and warblers. You can also spot nuthatches, goldcrests, chiffchaffs and blackcaps.
There is a duck pond in Greenwich park as well as a herd of red and fallow deer and it is an important site for ommon pipistrelles, Britain’s smallest bat.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are officially two separate parks but share a common border. They cover 615 acres and are home to a number of famous landmarks including Speaker’s Corner, the Peter Pan Statue and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and offer various recreational activities including open water swimming, horse riding, boating and tennis.
The trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants provide a rich habitat for an abundance of birdlife such as robins, dunnocks, blue tits, great tits and coal tits.
The Round Pond and Serpentine Lake attract a large number of wildfowl to the park. Look out for great crested grebes, swans, greylag geese, Canada geese and mallards.
Other recent visitors to Hyde Park include a black swan, a buzzard and Egyptian geese.
Regent’s Park in North West London is probably the best of the capital’s Royal Parks for bird watching with an impressive list of over 200 species.
Designed by John Nash, it covers 395 acres and houses London Zoo and the country’s largest free to access collection of waterfowl including Barnacle geese, wigeon, teal, gadwalls and pintails.
The park consists of formal gardens, shrubberies, rough grassland, an enclosed wood, sports pitches, a large lake with reed beds and islands and a canal with embankments.
Mature trees provide nesting sites for tawny owls, green woodpeckers, and kestrels while robins, blackbirds and long-tailed tits make their home in hedges.
The park gives sanctuary to passage migrants and winter visitors such as redwings, pied wagtails and mistle thrushes and in spring you can see reed warblers and blackcaps.
A pair of peregrine falcons have nested in the park since 2003 and the henory by the boating lake is one of the largest grey heron colonies close to a city centre in the whole of Europe. And look up to see flocks of ring-necked parakeets, the only species of parrot that live wild in the UK, flying overhead.
Richmond Park is the largest of London’s Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London. It is a National Nature Reserve, London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest and a European Special Area of Conservation.
Woodland birds include all three species of native woodpeckers, blackcaps, chiffchaffs, nuthatches and tree creepers. Birds of prey include kestrels, sparrowhawks, little owls and hobbies, which may be seen in the summer.
Ponds hold common terns, wigeon and mandarin ducks and you may be lucky enough to spot a water rail in the reedbeds.
Richmond Park is also famous for its deer populations. It was originally conceived as a deer-hunting park and there have been 630 red and fallow deer roaming freely in the park since 1529.
St James’s Park
St James’s Park is the oldest of the Royal Parks and includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade and provides settings for ceremonial pageants such as the annual Trooping the Colour.
Settle down in one of parks’ many deck chairs to view an abundance of birds including long-tailed tits, blue tits, robins and blackbirds which all breed in St James’s Park.
Living near Duck Island are the park’s most famous residents, a colony of pelicans, which were first introduced to the park as a gift from the Russian Ambassador in 1664. Regular visitors can see the pelicans getting fed fresh fish every afternoon and they are so friendly they have been known to sit on park benches beside visitors as they eat their lunch.
Other waterfowl that inhabit the lake in St James’s Park are mallards, tufted ducks, teals, shovelers, moorhens and goldeneyes. More exotic species include black swans and red-crested pochards.