Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

From Londonbirders

Website/Map: [1] ~ [2]

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are located in the heart of Inner London (City of Westminster and Inner London Sector) and are easily accessible by the many public transport routes that take in the general area. Both sites, though technically seperate, are contiguous and are divided from each other by West Carriage Drive (the bridge across the lake). The home to the original Crystal Palace, Speaker's Corner, Kensington Palace, George Frampton's much loved Peter Pan sculpture, the Albert, Hudson and Diana Memorials, The Speke Monument and Physical Energy, plus many famous concerts and events. The site (as with many within Inner London) is heavily utilised by the general public and comprises open and amenitised grassland dotted with wooded enclosures, more formal areas, small patches of rough grassland, a lake (The Serpentine in Hyde Park and The Longwater in Kensington Gardens) and The Round Pond (also in Kensington Gardens), long known for its model boat sailing on Sundays.

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The Round Pound in Kensington Gardens (photo by Andrew Self)

Some decent local birding can be had with a bit of luck and much regular watching. The 625 acres (combined) have had a lengthy birdwatching history reflected in a species list that currently stands at 188. There is no waterfowl collection here though the occasional bird turns up attributable to one of the nearby collections (St. James' Park and Regent's Park).

Early morning is always best for birding purposes before any potential disturbance kicks in and interesting local/London species to have so far occurred have included : Bewick's and Whooper Swan, Garganey, Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, all three sawbills, Red-throated Diver, Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe, European Storm and Leach's Storm-petrel, Little Egret, Gannet, Shag, Red Kite, Osprey, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Corncrake, Avocet, Sanderling, Little Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Mediterranean, Little, Ring-billed, Yellow-legged, Iceland and Glaucous Gull, Kittiwake, Little, Arctic and Black Tern, Guillemot, Razorbill, Little Auk, Turtle Dove, Short-eared Owl, Nightjar, Hoopoe, Shore Lark, Woodlark, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Grasshopper and Marsh Warbler, Firecrest, Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Crow, Twite and Snow Bunting. Of course the vast majority of these species are unlikely to be found on any ad-hoc visit and many of the more interesting records are from past decades. However, regular watching should repay with uncommon local species now and then.

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This pond in Kensington Gardens is home to Small Red-eyed Damselflies (photo by Andrew Self)

Residents and regulars include the most significant Inner London population of Mute Swan (occasionally numbering 100+), Mandarin, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted and Ruddy Duck, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Stock Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Tawny Owl, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song and Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Long-tailed and Coal Tit and Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Migrant breeders include House Martin at the periphery of the site and Blackcap. A fair range of passage migrants can be expected annually such as Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Skylark, the three regular hirundines, Tree and Meadow Pipit, Yellow and White Wagtail, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Fieldfare, Redwing, warblers (including the occasional Wood), Spotted and Pied Flycatcher (the former no longer breeding), Jackdaw, Brambling, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting. Furthermore, in most years there are records of species such as Wigeon and Pintail which pose questions regarding origins. Some examples are undoubtedly wild, others less likely to be so. There are also regular records of Red-crested Pochard which are always considered to be of dubious provenance.

Other wildlife includes Red Fox, a multitude of Grey Squirrel and variable numbers of Brown Rat. Theres is also plenty of pipistrelle spp., Noctules and a small population of Brown Rabbit on the eastern bank of the Long Water. Red-eared Terrapins can sometimes be seen basking amongst vegetation at the Long Water or at the Round Pond (probably to the detriment of young waterfowl in the breeding season). Butterflies include Small Skipper (Essex Skipper has been noted), Large and Small Whites, Red Admiral, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and Holly and Common Blue. Painted Lady occurs in good years and Purple Hairstreak was recently discovered. Moth records include Ruby Tiger and Twin-spotted Wainscot (a flagship species for London reedbeds) has been found at light traps. Odonata include (notably) Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Black-tailed Skimmer though Migrant Hawker and Emperor can be seen most years. Common Darter (and the occasional Ruddy Darter) can be found as can Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.

In terms of plant life Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (particularly the latter) are well known for the scarce and exotic trees planted in the past including Silver Lime and Swamp Cypress though there are many old native trees.

The whole site is a typical, though well managed, urban park.

PatchList 2009 Running Total

As at 1st December my site total for the year stands at 105 species, as follows:

Mute Swan (01/01) ~ Greylag Goose (01/01) ~ Canada Goose (01/01) ~ Egyptian Goose (01/01) ~ Mandarin Duck (01/01) ~ Wigeon (10/01) ~ Gadwall (01/01) ~ Teal (05/01) ~ Mallard (01/01) ~ Garganey (22/04) ~ Shoveler (01/01) ~ Pochard (01/01) ~ Tufted Duck (01/01) ~ Scaup (10/11) ~ Common Scoter (17/09) ~ Ruddy Duck (21/01) ~ Little Grebe (01/01) ~ Great Crested Grebe (01/01) ~ Cormorant (01/01) ~ Grey Heron (01/01) ~ Sparrowhawk (01/01) ~ Common Buzzard (03/04) ~ Osprey (05/11) ~ Kestrel (12/01) ~ Hobby (04/05) ~ Peregrine Falcon (06/02) ~ Pheasant (20/03) ~ Water Rail (02/01) ~ Moorhen (01/01) ~ Coot (01/01) ~ Lapwing (11/01) ~ Dunlin (15/05) ~ Common Snipe (02/01) ~ Woodcock (01/12) ~ Common Sandpiper (22/04) ~ Mediterranean Gull (01/01) ~ Little Gull (29/10) ~ Black-headed Gull (01/01) ~ Common Gull (01/01) ~ Lesser Black-backed Gull (01/01) ~ Yellow-legged Gull (10/01) ~ Herring Gull (01/01) ~ Great Black-backed Gull (08/01) ~ Common Tern (15/04) ~ Feral Rock Dove (01/01) ~ Stock Dove (01/01) ~ Woodpigeon (01/01) ~ Collared Dove (20/09) ~ Ring-necked Parakeet (01/01) ~ Tawny Owl (01/01) ~ Swift (28/04) ~ Kingfisher (02/02) ~ Green Woodpecker (02/01) ~ Great Spotted Woodpecker (01/01) ~ Skylark (02/02) ~ Sand Martin (09/04) ~ Swallow (03/04) ~ House Martin (09/04) ~ Meadow Pipit (02/01) ~ Yellow Wagtail (22/04) ~ Grey Wagtail (01/01) ~ Pied Wagtail (01/01) ~ Wren (01/01) - Dunnock (01/01) ~ Robin (01/01) ~ Common Redstart (23/04) ~ Whinchat (17/09) ~ Stonechat (15/04) ~ Northern Wheatear (20/04) ~ Ring Ouzel (10/04) ~ Blackbird (01/01) ~ Fieldfare (02/02) ~ Song Thrush (01/01) ~ Redwing (05/01) ~ Mistle Thrush (01/01) ~ Reed Warbler (10/04) ~ Lesser Whitethroat (15/04) ~ Common Whitethroat (27/04) ~ Garden Warbler (22/04) ~ Blackcap (22/02) ~ Chiffchaff (01/01) ~ Willow Warbler (09/04) ~ Goldcrest (01/01) ~ Firecrest (08/01) ~ Spotted Flycatcher (21/05) ~ Long-tailed Tit (01/01) ~ Blue Tit (01/01) ~ Great Tit (01/01) ~ Coal Tit (01/01) ~ Nuthatch (01/01) ~ Treecreeper (01/01) ~ Jay (01/01) ~ Magpie (01/01) ~ Jackdaw (01/01) ~ Carrion Crow (01/01) ~ Starling (01/01) ~ Chaffinch (01/01) ~ Brambling (16/03) ~ Greenfinch (01/01) ~ Goldfinch (01/01) ~ Siskin (05/01) ~ Linnet (11/01) ~ Lesser Redpoll (05/02) ~ Common Crossbill (21/10) ~ Reed Bunting (18/10).

Non-countables: Subspecies/Escapes/Hybrids etc:

Coscoroba Swan (12/11) ~ Emperor Goose (16/02) ~ White-fronted Goose x Bar-headed Goose (11/02) ~ Greylag Goose x Canada Goose (01/01) ~ Barnacle Goose (18/10) ~ Red-crested Pochard (08/01) ~ New Zealand Scaup (09/03) ~ Continental Cormorant (27/01) ~ Scandinavian Herring Gull (10/01) ~ Monk Parakeet (07/10) ~ Budgerigar (14/05).

Species Seen by Other Observers:

Smew (11/01 NA) ~ Short-eared Owl (25/11 SP) ~ Rock/Water Pipit (07/11 JM, JM Snr).

2008: Site Visits :

Jan : 20 / Feb: 12 / Mar : 10 / Apr : 11 / May : 5 / June: 2 / July: 2 / Aug : 3 / Sept : 2 / Oct : 11 / Nov : 16 / Dec : 4.

Previous PatchList Competition Totals: 2006 = 108 / 2007 = 97 / 2008 = 111

Des McKenzie.

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