Tuesday, 24 December 2013

And the bird of the year award goes to...

After a brief discussion in the pub last week, the vote was unanimous:

Long-tailed Duck, Peckham Rye Park, June 3rd 2013 
The Dulwich/Peckham borders may not be a mecca for sexy migrants or indeed, brimming with resident birds of note, but in its patchwork of gardens and parks and the spaces where nature is allowed to flourish, there are still the happy surprises of feathered visitors and familiar hangers-on. Of the former, the Peckham Long-tailed Duck is the undoubted victor and her short visit to a murky puddle in Peckham has already passed into local folklore.

Gavin's ace Pied Flycatcher in April was enjoyed by many as was an insane flock of Willow warblers. Tawny and Little owls were still around and 'the winter of firecrests' at Sydenham Hill Wood's looks set to continue this year. Martin phoned in a late request for Pied Wagtail, but the jury had already decided. Lets hope for more of the same in 2014, that migrant birds return in number and our resident birds continue to have a place to thrive.

For whatever reason, things went a bit quiet for us in the 2nd half of 2013 but we hope to be able to get things going again next year. Until then, thanks for reading and have a very Happy Christmas...cheers

Words/photos (PB)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Have you seen a Stag Beetle?

From London Wildlife Trust:

We are calling on Londoners to report any sightings of stag beetles in order to help improve conservation measures for this fascinating globally endangered creature. We also want to know about lesser stag beetle sightings across London.
As well as recording your sightings of stag beetles there's lots you can do to help them, especially if you have access to a garden.
Download the stag beetle advice note for guidance on how to build a stag beetle log pile and for some great wildlife gardening tips and advice take a look at our Wildlife Gardening Pack.
London is a 'hotspot' for stag beetles, and is nationally significant for the population it supports. However, the capital's stag beetles are vulnerable and need our help.
The stag beetle has been recorded in most London boroughs, but like many Londoners is particularly loyal to certain areas and is more common in south and west London.
While it is rarely spotted in central London (probably because there are few appropriate habitats) researchers are puzzled as to why sightings have been so few in north-west and north-east London.
Stag beetles are essential contributors to the cycle of decay; eating wood and transforming it into key components of soil, and therefore nourishing future ecosystems. There are many other animals and fungi that perform a similar role, but stag beetle serve as a symbol of the role of detritovores.
Stag beetles are rapidly declining across Europe, mainly as a result of the destruction of dead wood, and tidying up of parks and greenspaces. The larvae live in dead wood for up to seven years while they are maturing, and may also be inadvertently destroyed in the belief that they are pests. In urban areas traffic, feet, cats and other predators also have a detrimental impact.
Seen a stag beetle this year? Complete our Stag Beetle Survey to let us know!
How to spot a stag beetle
 - You are most likely to find a stag beetle near or on dead wood
- It's between 5cm and 8cm long
- It's got large antler shaped jaws
- The male's jaws are very large
- The female's jaws are smaller but more powerful
- Adults emerge from the soil beneath logs or tree stumps from mid-May til late July
- Males are often seen flying on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk

I haven't seen one yet this year but hopefully that will change. Submit your sightings here.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Long-tailed Duck! Peckham Mega!

Ah, summer in Peckham; Chiffchaff are singing in the trees, Swifts are screaming through the skies and the first Long-tailed Duck of the year has returned...er

It's true.

Here's a photo from this morning of the quite unbelievable female LONG-TAILED DUCK that was spotted on Peckham Rye Park lake this Saturday (1/6):

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) Peckham Rye Park lake, 3/6/13


While you'd be right to be sceptical of the appearance of this species in London in JUNE, this individual doesn't appear to show any signs of being an escape. It's an odd location for a bird like this, given it should be much further north by now and the lake is like Piccadilly Circus with Canada Geese. But it didn't seem to mind and spent an hour this morning at least drifting around, diving and sleeping. The wings look intact and although it's showing down to 10ft at times, that's not surprising when the lake is barely 50 yards wide anyway. Whatever the providence, there's still a bloody LONG-TAILED DUCK in PECKHAM! Well done to the finder, probably not as easy a spot as you'd think in amongst all the Coot love and crusts.

Naturally, following news going out yesterday, first thing this morning an epic local twitch was in full swing:

L-R: Bin man, man on bike, DC, Martin

A morning to remember.

Thanks to Philip C, John Archer & Richard Bonser
Photo/footage - Peter Beckenham

Monday, 29 April 2013


Recent sightings:

Centre for Wildlife Gardening (East Dulwich): 1 Willow Warbler singing (23rd) (DG)

Crystal Palace: 2 Swift over (25th) (SR) also 1 Firecrest on ridge, 6 Swallow over (16th) (PB/DG)

Dulwich Park: still good numbers of Willow warblers - particularly around lake (at least 10), 1 Chiffchaff Am. Garden, 2 singing elsewhere, M+F Blackcap Am. Garden, 2 m Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4+ Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush (17th) (PB) + pair of Sparrowhawks pm (CK) Red Kite flew over mid-week (MS)

Dulwich Upper Wood: Willow Warbler still vocal this morning, House Martin over (23rd) (DB)

Hilly Fields (Lewisham): Swift over 0830 (24th) (LA)

One Tree Hill LNR (Honor Oak): Garden Warbler in Blackthorn at top of hill with mixed warbler flock (29th) (DG)

Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) One Tree Hill LNR, London, 29/4/13 (D Greenwood)

SE27: Red Kite over @ 18:17 heading North-West. Slow and relaxed flight, not high. This is a garden first & a London first for me! (23rd)  Also 1 Whitethroat in back garden on 26th (tick-fest!) (JS)

South Norwood CP: 2 Tree Pipit (27th) (GH/SR) Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Kestrel present (25th) (MS) Also, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff were joined by singles of Willow Warbler and Reed Warbler on 29th.  Plus 2 Linnet and pair of Egyptian Geese on lake (MS)

Sydenham Hill Wood (Cox's Walk): 2 Kestrel by church, 1 m Blackcap brambles behind church, 2 Jay over, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Treecreeper with nest material at top end (17th') Also  1 female Tawny Owl calling from high up over steps leading to Upper Cox's Walk from footbridge, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap (DG, DC, ET)

Firecrest (above and below) (Regulus ignicapilla) Crystal Palace Park Ridge (16/4/13)

Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus) Camberwell Old Cemetery, 29/4/14)

Finally, please check out this excellent essay by Dan, featured in The Earthlines Review, on one of our favourite green spaces.

Thanks all.

Words by Pete, all photos by Daniel Greenwood.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Pied Flycatcher - Dulwich Park!

After a slow start, spring arrived in force today with a stunning fall of migrant birds across London. Significant numbers of Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Redstart were recorded all over town and Dulwich Park got in on the act with this superb male Pied Flycatcher, found by Gavin Horsley this morning.

Thanks for the superb photos Gavin...

Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) Dulwich Park, 15/4/13

The bird was favouring the American Garden - in particular the younger silver birches near the Rhododendron border along one side of 'the hollow'. It frequently disappeared into cover but generally showed well throughout the day. Apparently this has been a reliable spot for the species with several individuals recorded in the same area over 5 years at least from 1991 (Thanks DC) Pied Flycatchers are a long distance migrant, wintering in West Africa and returning to Europe to breed in spring.

Also noted in the park today were c60 Willow Warbler (across the park -an incredible number), c10 Chiffchaff, c7 Swallow, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 1 Little Grebe, 6 Coal Tit (inc singing males) 5+ Goldcrest (1 with nest material), 1 Nuthatch (calling).

A fantastic start, keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Recent sightings:

Belair Park: 35 Redwing, 55 Fieldare, 1 Mandarin (4/4/13) (DC) 1 Little Owl (7/4/13) (JS)

Crystal Palace Ridge: 6/4/13 PM Robin, Blue tit, Great spotted woodpecker (hammering), Carrion crow, Stock dove, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Wren, Goldcrest, Ring necked parakeet, Pied wagtail. Also possible Blackcap + Comma on wing (DG)

Dulwich Park: 28 Redwing (4/4/13) (DC)

East Dulwich: female Blackcap regularly visiting garden feeder in March (MS), Tawny Owl reported in field near Picture Gallery 7/4/13 (JS)

Horniman Gardens Nature Trail: 1 Woodcock flushed 7/4/13 (DB) - From Doug Brooks: "This is only the third one I've seen in 20 years around the Great North Wood. The other two were in Dulwich Upper Wood, with the last one about 5 years ago".

Nunhead Cemetery: highlights 3/4/13 Pair Sparrowhawk mobbed by crows, 2 Goldcrest, 2-3 Song Thrush singing, 1 Stock Dove (PB/LA)

Nunhead Allotments: 1 Meadow Pipit flushed from grassland near allotments 3/4/13 (PB/LA)

One Tree Hill LNR: Blackbird, Robin, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed
Tit, Crow, Magpie, Jay, Wood Pig, Ring Necked Para, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker + also Treecreeper reported (7/4/13) (DB)

Peckham Rye Park: 1 Mistle thrush, 1 Song thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Carrion crow, Jay, Magpie, Wood pigeon, Long tailed tit, Coal tit, Great tit, Blue tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch (6/4/13) (DG)

Sydenham Hill Wood LNR: Mallard on dewy pond, Stock Dove (DB), Kestrels back on clock tower (7/4/13) (JS)

Telegraph Hill Park: highlights 3/4/13 40-50 Chaffinch, high west in small flocks over a period of half an hour from 7.30am (definitely had feel of migrant groups), 3 Coal Tit (2 singing), c 15 House Sparrow, Pair Mistle Thrush (lower), 11 Redwing foraging (lower) (PB/LA)

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) Hyde Park, London, today (photo PB)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Here we go again...

Crystal Palace ridge and mast, 06.23am this morning...no Wheatears

First session of the spring up at the ridge this morning. Had been looking forward to it after the recent switch to southerlies but, in keeping with the general picture, there was little to get too excited about just yet, unless you're especially fond of chaffinches (and who isn't really?) Conditions were good with clear views as far as the North Downs in the distance, there was a light southerly breeze and a wintry sunrise to welcome us back.  Back in position at the ridge, here's what unfolded over the course...

(0625-0815) Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove (1 over S), Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jay (1), Magpie, Starling (c30 over SE), Song Thrush (4-5), Blackbird (5), Blue Tit (3), Great Tit (3), Coal Tit (1 heard), Long-tailed Tit (5), Greenfinch (6), Goldfinch (4), Chaffinch (20+), Robin, Wren, Dunnock (4), Pied Wagtail (2 over N), Goldcrest (2), Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Ring-necked Parakeet.

Also in the park:

Mallard, Canada Goose, Lesser Black-backed Gull (over), Common Gull, c22 Black-headed Gull, 5+ Shoveler, c5 Tufted Duck.

Small movements of Chaffinch (3x flocks of c8) S/SE were noted heading over, with 2 Pied Wagtails going the opposite way. The usual flocks of gulls lolled back and forth between east and west. Good to hear several Song Thrush in full song along the line of scrub on the ridge, with several Dunnocks and numerous scolding robins and blackbirds also demonstrating what an important area for wildlife this is in the park.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) Crystal Palace Park, 18/3/13
This cold weather looks like continuing for a week at least but it won't be long before spring warblers start returning. Things might be late this year but they won't be far away...stay tuned.

The majestic Crystal Palace National Athletics stadium with attendent grass munchers (bloody cut backs)
Team Ridge: Dan, Dave, Lisa
Live in South London? Like birds? Why not follow us on twitter...also check out the excellent Croydon birders website for news covering South Norwood and beyond.

This blog is done by a friendly bunch of birders from South London who get out and about whenever they can. We really love our parks and green spaces and all those weeds coming through the cracks. We always love to hear about new sightings...or old ones...or wildly speculative ones, so feel free to drop us a line below. Or get in touch at southlondonbirds@gmail.com if you want to gossip, bitch or buy us beer.