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Richmond Park

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Richmond Park is the largest of London's Royal Parks (950 hectares) and a NNR (National Nature Reserve), SSSI and SAC (Special area of conservation). It is famous for its herds of Red and Fallow Deer. The Park is dominated by ancient oak woodlands, acid grassland and some extensive areas of bracken. The Pen Ponds are located in the centre of the Park. The Upper Pond has a small reedbed. There are several smaller ponds elsewhere in the Park and Beverley Brook runs through the north-eastern part of the Park.

Woodland birds include all three woodpeckers (although Lesser Spotted Woodpecker sightings have declined in recent years), Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Little Owls are widespread on the fringes of woodland. Kestrels and Sparrowhawk are resident as are Buzzards now. Hobby may be seen in summer. Jackdaws and Ring-necked Parakeets are the two most obvious species in the Park. Skylarks still manage to breed in the grassland despite increasing numbers of visitors and dog-walkers. Reed Buntings breed in areas of bracken. Meadow Pipit and Stonechat still maintain a breeding presence but can be seen in greater numbers on passage and in winter. Whitethroats breed in areas of scrub. The Pen Ponds hold the commoner wildfowl and can host good numbers of Wigeon and Gadwall; up to three pairs of Common Terns breed and there is a small heronry. Egyptian Goose and Mandarin Duck have significant populations in the Park. The reedbed has summering Reed Warblers and resident Water Rail although the latter are hardly ever seen. Waders are rare with only the odd Snipe and the occasional Common Sandpiper. Beverley Brook holds Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail.

On passage the commoner warblers occur as do Hirundines, Wheatear, Whinchat, Fieldfare and the occasional Ring Ouzel, Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher. Common Buzzard can pass through in impresseive numbers. Red Kite and Peregrine are increasingly seen. Some of the best areas for migrants are the Hawthorn Valley, The Bog and Holly Lodge Paddocks, Lawn Field and Pond Slade. In winter Woodcock can be seen leaving their woodland roost sites and flocks of Redwing, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin may be encountered. The occassional Dartford Warbler has wintered, usually in the company of Stonechats.

Rarities include Little Bittern, Rough-legged Buzzard, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Alpine Swift, Barred Warbler, Woodchat, Red-backed and Great Grey Shrikes, Golden Oriole and Ortolan Bunting.

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