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Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens

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Website/Map: Royal Parks - Hyde Park ~ Royal Parks - Kensington Gardens

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (open dawn to dusk) are located in the heart of Inner London (City of Westminster and Inner London sector) and easily accessible by the many public transport routes which take in the general area. Both sites, though technically seperate, are continuous and are divided by West Carriage Drive (the bridge). The home of the original Crystal Palace, Speakers Corner, Kensington Palace, the Serpentine Gallery, George Framptons much loved Peter Pan sculpture, the Albert, Diana and Hudson Memorials, the Speke Monument and Physical Energy plus many famous concerts. The site (as with many in Inner London) is heavily utilised by the public and consists of open, amenitised, grassy areas dotted with wooded enclosures, more formal sections, small areas 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 it's model boat sailing on Sundays.

Some decent local birding can be had with a bit of luck and regular watching, and the 625 acres (combined) have had a lengthy bird-watching history and a species list of close to 185. There is no waterfowl collection here though the occasional bird turns up which may have originated from one of the nearby collections (St. James's and Regent's Park's).

Early morning is always best before any disturbance kicks in and interesting London birds to date have included Bewick's and Whooper Swan, Garganey, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, all three sawbills, Red-throated Diver, Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe, Storm and Leach's Petrel, Gannet, Shag, Red Kite, Osprey, Merlin, Peregrine, Water Rail, Corncrake, Avocet, Ruff, Sanderling, Little Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Little, Ring-billed, Yellow-legged, Iceland and Glaucous Gull, Kittiwake, Little and Black Tern, Guillemot, Razorbill, Little Auk, Turtle Dove, Short-eared Owl, Nightjar, Hoopoe, Shore Lark, Blue-headed Wagtail, Waxwing, Nightingale, Grasshopper and Marsh Warbler, Firecrest, Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Crow, Twite and Snow Bunting. 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 is the key which can repay with uncommon local sightings.

Residents and regulars include the most significant Inner London congregation 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 nearby 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, 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 the odd record of species such as Wigeon and Pintail which pose questions regarding origin. Some examples are undoubtedly wild, others less likely to be so. There are also the occasional records of Red-crested Pochard which are always considered to be of dubious provenance. The whole site is a typical, though well-managed, urban park.

Des McKenzie

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