Alexandra Park

From Londonbirders


Access: the park is bordered by Muswell Hill to the north-west, Crouch End/Hornsey to the south and Wood Green to the east, all of which are located on major bus routes. The W3 bus, from Tottenham to Finsbury Park, runs through Wood Green and then Alexandra Park itself. The nearest tube station is Wood Green (Piccadilly Line), but closer still is Alexandra Palace Station, which is served by GNER overground services to Moorgate via Finsbury Park (both of which connect with the underground network). There are public car parks in The Grove and next to the palace, and some on-street parking is available close to the park's boundaries.

In its hill-top position with commanding views across the city centre and the Thames flood plain, Alexandra Palace is the key landmark of this productive but under-watched area of parkland in north London.

The site covers some 180 acres (72 ha) in total, with habitat mainly comprising tightly mown grassland with scattered trees and hedges, and pockets of woodland and rougher grassland. A small area of sports pitches is enclosed by a circular perimeter hedge and ditch, which are all that remain of the racecourse constructed here many years ago. Next to the pavilion is an area known locally as the cricket scrub, and in migration times this is best part of the park to search for warblers (including Garden and Lesser Whitethroat), chats (Whinchat and Northern Wheatear are regular) and other migrants.

There is a boating pond close to the palace on the top of the hill, but the main area of water is Wood Green Reservoir and the adjacent filter bed complex in the south-east corner of the park. Fed by the New River, these small water bodies are attractive to wildfowl and gulls in winter, wagtails year-round (Grey breeds locally) and occasionally to passage waders such as Common Sandpiper in spring and autumn. Just north of the reservoir, a managed area of woodland with a man-made, natural-sided pond has been designated as a conservation area. Reed Bunting and Bullfinch are among the species possible here.

Woodland birds in the park include Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Treecreeper and all three woodpeckers, though Lesser Spotted has become much scarcer in recent years; this species is probably best searched for in The Grove, which lies in the north-west corner of the park. The Grove also has a track record for migrant Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher (August is best), and Firecrest has proved almost regular here on passage in both spring and autumn. Check the silver birches for Lesser Redpoll in winter.

Rarities are few and far between in the park, but have included Yellow-browed Warbler in October 2005. Other interesting species recorded in recent years include Brent Goose, Barn Owl, Black Redstart and Ring Ouzel.

Birding in Alexandra Park in 2006

As of 28 December 2006, the park's year list stands at 106 species, a record total that just surpassed the all-time high of 105 species which was reached in 1987, a year with highlights which included Jack Snipe, Willow Tit and Ortolan and Corn Buntings (per Neil Bowman). Currently, the park is being covered regularly by a small but dedicated group of observers, including Alan Gibson, Andrew Gardener, Dominic Mitchell, John Murray, James Oates, Gareth Richards and Bob Watts. Alexandra Park is represented in the PatchList 2006 competition by Dominic Mitchell, whose 2006 year list to date comprises the following 92 species:

Little Grebe; Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Shelduck; Gadwall; Mallard; Northern Shoveler; Common Pochard; Tufted Duck; Ruddy Duck; Sparrowhawk; Eurasian Kestrel; Hobby; Water Rail; Moorhen; Coot; Eurasian Curlew; Mediterranean Gull; Black-headed Gull; Common Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Herring Gull; Common Tern; Feral Rock Dove; Stock Dove; Woodpigeon; Collared Dove; Ring-necked Parakeet; Eurasian Cuckoo; Tawny Owl; Common Swift; Common Kingfisher; Green Woodpecker; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Lesser Spotted Woodpecker; Skylark; Sand Martin; Barn Swallow; House Martin; Meadow Pipit; Tree Pipit; Grey Wagtail; Yellow Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Common Redstart; Black Redstart; European Stonechat; Whinchat; Northern Wheatear; Ring Ouzel; Blackbird; Fieldfare; Song Thrush; Redwing; Mistle Thrush; Sedge Warbler; Reed Warbler; Lesser Whitethroat; Common Whitethroat; Blackcap; Common Chiffchaff; Willow Warbler; Goldcrest; Spotted Flycatcher; Long-tailed Tit; Coal Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Eurasian Nuthatch; Jay; Magpie; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Common Starling; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Brambling; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Siskin; Linnet; Mealy Redpoll; Lesser Redpoll; Bullfinch; Reed Bunting.

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