The Nature of London
From Her Majesty’s Swans to feral Parakeets, Hyde Park has its fair share of wildlife, and the community is thriving.
Entering the park at the Royal Albert memorial (definitely worth a look!) onto the main path of the park a green squawking animal flies overhead and my dad starts talking of the parakeet colony in the park. I had no idea that a population of Rose-Winged Parakeets lived in Hyde Park (although they are more commonly known as Kingston Parakeets) As they swooped overhead we continued on the crunching leaves along the path, eventually reaching The Serpentine where we had a drink at the riverside café and a highly recommendable brownie! It was here that a Starling visited my dad for a quick chat in which he managed to capture this photo before my mum and myself returned and accidentally caused its immediate flight.
From there, we followed the river up towards the denser city and this was where all the wildlife appeared.
It began with a visit from Her Majesty’s Mute Swans, gliding across the surface of the river with ease in pride of place at the top of the pecking order and lording over the other subjects.
Accompanying the royal birds were Moorhens and Coots. Moorhens recognizable for their red beaks with the yellow tips flanked the swans like bodyguards, pushing the water out of the way, bending it to create a path, whilst the Coots with their solid white beaks swam alongside the majestic birds. Mixed up amongst the group were some Black-Headed Gulls in their winter plumage. Whilst their coats are usually white and grey with a clearly defined black head, their winter plumage provides a white head with a black circle on the side. These birds came and went, fighting over food and skidding across the water creating ripples.
On proceeding, we met a group of Geese. The common Graylag Geese were posing for photos before entering the river but it was the Egyptian Geese that interested me the most. Having never seen them before, their sandy plumage fascinated me and I have since read up about their history. Whilst the population in Britain can be dated back to the 18th century, all sources indicate that the species is mainly living in East Anglia alone. This species nonetheless were much more comfortable with me and my camera getting up close to capture their beauty.
The final bird found lounging on The Serpentine was the Great-crested Grebe. The feathers on the head and the long, slightly curved beak make it easily recognisable and an attractive species to watch drifting by. The pair I met initially loved the attention and then one became camera shy as I began snapping up their beauty.
My attention diverted from the lake to the Kingston Parakeets swooping around the treetops. I followed a flock of them from tree to tree, waiting for them to settle in order to get a better look at these charming chirpers. They barely settled on the trees long enough for me to have a good look at them, they were so skittish. When I arrived home that night, I researched them, wanting to find out more about their origins. The results were controversial, some theories suggest the original pair escaped from a zoo or film set, whilst another theory suggests they were introduced to the area by someone and have managed to thrive in this climate. It is however agreed that the population increased in the mid 90’s and that a single flock can have around 6000 individuals. The sources also mention an easily identifiable squawk…something I definitely encountered and will not forget in a hurry.
Believe it or not, there are actually five parakeets in the photo below, try and spot them all. Their camouflage in the trees is definitely an asset when it comes to predation, they just need to work on keeping their beaks closed long enough to not give away their location.
This day was especially fulfilling considering I finally achieved a goal of mine, capturing a grey squirrel on camera! After months of trying and getting nothing better than the photo below, this was a real treat.
I finally found some slightly more tame squirrels which stuck around long enough for me to capture. One little fella even came up to me whilst I crouched on the grass to get a closer look. The result of this experience is below.
One squirrel dashed across the path in front of us and slid down the drain. After waiting briefly for it to return we continued walking, assuming the drain lead somewhere the squirrel wished to be. Yet, on glancing back I captured the photo below of the same squirrel reappearing from the drain. Clearly he entered the wrong one!
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