London’s eight Royal Parks comprise areas of land that was originally owned by the monarchy and used by them for recreation, mostly hunting. Today the parks are all freely open to the public and are one of the delights of London.
Bushy Park is one of them, less famous perhaps than its city centre cousins such as Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, but with lots to offer those who visit. It was once the deer-hunting ground of Henry VIII; of course, nowadays its herds of red and fallow deer are protected and are one of its main attractions.
But as we discovered on a recent outing, there is plenty of birdlife too. Most of the following birds we encountered on a walk through the Woodland Garden; but on the open grassland near the deer we found a noisy pair of Green Woodpeckers.
Lots of ducks were out enjoying the spring sunshine on the stream running through the Woodland Garden, including a pair of my favourite Mandarin Ducks. This beautiful duck was introduced from the Far East, and escaped, or was deliberately released, from captivity in the UK during the 20th century.
There were Coots and Moorhens …
… and of course Mallards.
Canada Geese are pretty common on all London’s waterways. They were introduced from North America and have successfully spread to cover most of the UK.
And Egyptian Geese are becoming more prevalent too. Like the Mandarin Ducks, they were introduced as an ornamental wildfowl species; they later escaped into the wild, where they are now successfully breeding.
The combination of tan and green in their wing and tail feathers is especially striking.
Another relatively recent addition to our bird life are the flocks of Ring-necked Parakeets. These probably descend from some escaped pets during the mid to late 20th century; however, more exotic theories have emerged including:
- A pair escaped from Isleworth Studios during filming of The African Queen in 1951
- Some escaped from damaged aviaries during the Great Storm of 1987
- A pair were released by Jimi Hendrix in Carnaby Street, London, in the 1960s
- A number reportedly escaped from a pet shop in Sunbury-on-Thames in 1970
Whatever their origin they have become naturalised in the south-east of England, aided by warmer winters; and nowadays we see more of them than we do of several native species. I love their bright flashes of green and the hint of the exotic they bring to our suburban neighbourhood, although it’s a shame if they are driving away other birds.
However Bushy Park still seems to have plenty of room to accommodate all the birds that have found a home here. Our recent spring visit certainly enabled me to take lots of photos to share for Lisa’s Bird Weekly challenge, all of them seen within the past two weeks!
Bushy Park is local to us; these photos were all taken in late March 2021