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Regent's Park/Primrose Hill

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Looking north over Regent&#039;s Park

South side of Regent's Park looking NW

Location: Streetmap

Guide to birding sites: Regent's Park Bird-Sightings Map

Regent's Park NW1 and Primrose Hill NW8, separated only by Prince Albert Road, together form one of the city's eight Royal Parks.

Bird Sites and SpeciesEdit

RegentsPark

Click to enlarge. Pic courtesy of Shaun Ferguson.

South of Prince Albert Road, stretching almost to Marylebone Road and Baker Street, is Regent's Park. Large (160 ha) and relatively flat, it consists mainly of playing fields and formal gardens but does feature some small, fenced-off, managed sanctuaries that collectively can be quite productive, notably the:

  • Chat Pen (formerly called the Old Golf School Pen; area 39 on the sightings map)
  • boundary of Leaf Yard Wood (a40/41)
  • Cricket (a31) and Wetland (a32) Pens
  • Longbridge Sanctuary (a34/35)
  • Wildlife Garden (a20) in the northwestern corner of Avenue Gardens,

plus more readily-accessible (and thus easily-disturbed) areas including the:

  • open gorse and brambles of the 'chat bush' (just north of a34)
  • plantings around the Readymoney Fountain on the Broad Walk (a28)
  • northwestern border of the Rose Wheel (a17) in Queen Mary's Gardens, and
  • St John's Lodge 'secret' garden (public access via the gate east of a30 on the Inner Circle road).

At the Park's southwestern edge is a reasonably-sized boating lake, home to a small heronry, several pairs of Reed Warblers, 1-3 singing Sedge Warblers (2015/16, not yet breeding), a pioneer Cetti's Warbler (autumn/winter 2015/16) and, in most winters, one or two Water Rails. However, its concrete banks cause it to be shunned by most waders, and its shallow depth discourages deepwater diving-ducks; nevertheless, in March 2003 the city's second, wild Lesser Scaup relocated here from Brent Reservoir to the northwest. In February 2013 two Bearded Tits, the first for Inner London, did a 3-day stopover in the lake reedbeds (after wintering in Hyde Park to the south). The best vantage-points for seeing wild (often feral) waterbirds are the:

  • various footbridges, especially Longbridge (a35) and Hanover Bridge (at the southeastern end of a1)
  • viewing platform (access via the gate at the northeastern end of a35) and, especially,
  • Holme Green shoreline (a9) near the Bandstand looking northwest toward Heron Island (a8).

Outside the breeding season, carefully examine the loafing gulls as most of them roost overnight elsewhere, probably in the Lee Valley reservoirs, so every day brings the potential for something unusual. If all else fails, the lake's extremities hold captive waterfowl to challenge your identification skills including Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose, Pintail, Garganey, Blue-winged Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Eider, Goldeneye and Smew.

North of Prince Albert Road lies Primrose Hill, featuring a viewpoint (a50) that is a good place to watch visible migration over Inner London, including raptors. The closest tube station to the Hill is Chalk Farm, a 10-minute walk away.

NB Effective coverage of all the above hotspots normally requires 3-4 hours of brisk walking, as cycling between them is prohibited and the sites are well-spaced over an area nearly 2 kilometres wide.

The patch really comes into its own during periods of migration. Maybe because it is one of the inner city's few sizeable areas of green, or because it gets so much regular coverage, it does turn up some pretty good birds every year. Wheatears are fairly easy to spot when present but a more detailed look can reveal other interesting visitors such as (annually) Water Rail, Woodcock, Firecrest, Wood Warbler, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat and Tree Pipit, and (more rarely) Waxwing and Ring Ouzel.

In autumn especially, the site briefly hosts noteworthy concentrations of leaf warblers (genus Phylloscopus): waves of Willow Warblers in August, and Chiffchaffs in late September and October, can respectively include Wood Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler (five and three, respectively, in 2014/15).

As the area lies on a narrow 'green corridor' running northeast-to-southwest through central London, exceptional weather can produce migration spectaculars: hundreds of Swifts in early August, a thousand hirundines (Swallows and House Martins) in mid-September, or thousands of northern thrushes (Redwings and Fieldfares) in mid-/late October, all of which can funnel through in a matter of hours or even minutes.

Among the post-war, London-Area rarities gracing the patch checklist are Ring-necked Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Scaup, Leach's Petrel (found dead), Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Crane, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Hooded Crow, Melodious Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear¹ and Serin.

¹ The BBRC's arbitrary, retroactive deletion of this 1951 record (a half-century later, for no published reason) is contentious, not least because the lead adjudicator (of the two sets of observers' notes published in British Birds vol 46) is on record as having dipped on the bird fifty years earlier by taking a lie-in that morning(!) Questions of objectivity and transparency need answering in this case: the record should be reevaluated again, this time with clear and dispassionate reasons why discrepancies or deficiencies in the two accounts create significant uncertainty, if any, above subspecific level (O. h. hispanica v O. h. melanoleuca).

PracticalitiesEdit

Being open city spaces, the Hill and Park both get a lot of joggers/dogwalkers/commuters/office workers having lunch, so to maximise your chances you should arrive as early as possible before anything unusual has been spooked. NB The Park gates - but not those on the Hill - are locked at dusk and remain so till at least 5:00am, even when dawn has already broken.

The nearest tube stations are:

  • Baker Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Jubilee, Metropolitan and Bakerloo lines) to the southwest;
  • Regent's Park (Bakerloo Line) and Great Portland Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan lines), both to the southeast;
  • Camden Town (Northern Line) and Chalk Farm (Northern Line), both to the northeast; and
  • St John's Wood (Jubilee Line) to the northwest.

Buses that stop nearby include:

  • C2 Hampstead Heath - Oxford Circus
  • 2 Crystal Palace - Marylebone Stn
  • 13 Aldwych - Golders Green
  • 18 Sudbury - Euston
  • 27 Turnham Green - Chalk Farm
  • 30 Hackney Wick - Marble Arch
  • 74 Roehampton - Baker Street Stn
  • 82 North Finchley - Victoria
  • 113 Edgware - Oxford Circus
  • 139 Waterloo - West Hampstead
  • 189 Brent Cross Shopping Ctr - Oxford Circus
  • 205 Bow Church - Paddington
  • 274 Angel Islington - Lancaster Gate
  • 453 Deptford Broadway - Marylebone St

Guide to birding sites: Regent's Park Bird-Sightings Map. On arrival, detailed visitor display-maps are located at the main access gates.

[Paul White (2006), with additional contributions.]

YearlistsEdit

PATCHLIST 2015 (122 species tbc):

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Mandarin Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Common Scoter, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Woodcock, Snipe, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Cetti's Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Nuthatch, Wren, Starling, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Reed Bunting.

---

PATCHLIST 2014 (113 species tbc):

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Mandarin Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Honey-buzzard, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Woodcock, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Ring-necked Parakeet, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Woodlark, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Long-tailed Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch.

---

PATCHLIST 2008 (122 species):

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Mandarin Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Honey-buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Woodcock, Snipe, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Cuckoo, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Woodlark, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Wren, Starling, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Water Pipit, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.

[Species in bold are new additions to the patch checklist.]

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