Saturday, 12 May 2012


That's "hey, how's it going?" in Swift-speak. Good turnout on the ridge yesterday, you can't beat birding before breakfast: 

Crystal Palace Ridge, 11th May, clear, 5-10mph NE breeze

Whitethroat (2/3), Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Jay, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Sparrowhawk (male, hunting), Swallow (1, over), Wood Pigeon, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed gull (usual movements)

Park: Green Woodpecker, Ring-necked Parakeet, Mallard.

After a quiet few weeks, there was a good movement of Swift and House Martin across South London. Several groups of House Martins were seen flying East to West and other groups over the ridge to the North. Similarly for Swifts there was a general East - West movement with a couple feeding on the ridge and many more outside the Park to the South.

Of swifts, there are few better sights in Spring or Summer than looking up and watching their dark, scythe-like shapes gracefully arching through the air as they feed. Interestingly, they are very much an 'urban' bird too, with a large proportion of nest sites found in built up areas. Does anyone have Swifts nesting locally? A lack of nest sites (and removal or damage to previous ones) has been suggested as a reason for the fall in numbers and subsequent amber-listing of this iconic species. How hard would it be to factor in bird-friendly designs to new builds? Given the rate at which they're being thrown up round here, such simple measures could make a real difference. Check out London Swift Conservation for ideas on how you can attract swifts to your neighbourhood. First person to email with a photo of their own DIY swift nest box wins a signed photo of Dave.

Other notes:

Blackcap and Chiffchaff territories were noticeably quieter - perhaps not surprising since brooding is likely well under way. Good to see Starlings in number, more so than on other occasions, and feeding around the ridge. Switching to Lepidoptera for a moment - several Speckled Woods were taking advantage of the mild conditions.

Cheers to the early birders: Martin, Daniel, Gavin and Dave. 
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) Crystal Palace Park, 11/5/12.
Photo by D Greenwood.

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