Last Monday, we headed for the heart of London and spent some time at Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Although the year is moving inexorably towards its conclusion and the days are getting shorter, we have still found plenty to appreciate in and around the London area, not least because Husbean has had several days off that has enabled Team Sausage to explore new spots.
Despite some very overcast conditions, the resident birds were able to bring some colour and noise to our time at Hyde Park. The fallen leaves made a crunchy carpet of gold, brown and orange. Rummaging among them were numerous Jays on their regular acorn hunt.
Across both parks, overly-familiar Ring-necked Parakeets screeched and chattered, moving from tree to tree in small flocks, resembling flights of jade arrows.
What is quite unique about the London parks is the way the birds are so very comfortable with the presence and close proximity of people. Our friend Wendy recently posted about her experience at Kensington Gardens, and had birds literally feeding out of her hand. We were able to wander quite comfortably among the Egyptian Geese, despite apprehensions (ours more than theirs!).
These fowl, as their name suggests, originated in Africa. Their presence in London and Europe in general is largely due to previously captive birds escaping and developing self-sustaining populations.
Introduced to the UK as ornamental or decorative birds, in 2009 these geese were put on Natural England’s “general licence” of species which can be controlled (that is, culled) without individual permission, if damage is being done. Interestingly, the RSPB, whilst acknowledging them as a non-native species, doesn’t see them as as causing any conservation problems at the moment.
Less surprisingly, the parks’ gull contingent was also most nonchalant about human proximity. This winter plumage Black-headed Gull was most obliging to the camera.
As was this juvenile Herring Gull:
The star of the show for us however, was the much underrated Starling. Enjoyed more for their amazing winter murmurations, the plumage of this common bird is stunning.
An iridescent melange of russet and buff brown, royal purples, bright white arrows and even some British Racing Green, I think the fact that these birds are seen by most people every day has allowed them to almost slip under the radar of interest. I hope these images will show a little more of their fantastic colouring.
Please check out my flickr page for larger and brighter versions of these images and more.