Introduction to birding in London
If you haven’t lived in London, you would be surprised to hear that birding in London can be quite rewarding. In fact, over 360 species have been recorded in the city over the years. Millions of travellers visit or travel through London, so it makes sense that there are a lot of birders amongst them. Are you one of them?
On your next holiday or business trip you may be able to spend some time away from your family, or colleagues, so why not spend some time birding. There are many places you could visit but we have chosen two that will reward you with a variety of common, and some not so common, species.
A special effort has been made by the staff of Kew Gardens to attract wildlife and they have done this in part by putting out bird feeders and planting trees and shrubs that provide food, shelter and breeding locations for wildlife in general, and not just birds. The Gardens are located on the Thames River which adds an extra habitat for birders to check out.
So, what birds might you see in Kew Gardens? Let’s start with waterbirds. Amongst the species that breed in the Gardens are Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Mute Swan and Moorhen. Of course, there are many others that breed but the species list is boosted by species such as Grey Heron, Pochard and Lesser Black-backed Gull.
There is quite a long list of birds that can be found in the trees, shrubs and patrolling the lawns. Woodpeckers are well represented with Lesser Spotted, Green and Great Spotted breeding in the Gardens.
Other birds to look for include Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and, of course, Ring-necked Parakeet. The latter species has really taken to life in London and the population has boomed from escapees.
Birds of prey are not too well represented but you may see Hobby and Little Owl.
We recommend getting a copy of Birds of Britain and Europe – 6th edition by Rob Hume.
Another other option for a half-day of birding is Richmond Park. It is located in south-west London and boasts a checklist of around 150 species. The Park is 955 hectares in extent and was created by King Charles I in the 17th century. I think it is fair to say that he did not have birders in mind when settling land aside for the creation of Richmond Park, but we do appreciate it today.
OK, you are going to see Rose-ringed Parakeets. They love the place! Starting with waterbirds you can look for Mandarin Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Common Teal, Wigeon, Water Rail and many more.
One of the special features of Richmond Park is the grasslands. Here you will be hoping to tick off Grey Partridge, Meadow Pipit, European Stonechat, Skylark and Reed Bunting.
Other birds to search for include the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher, Coal Tit, Blackcap, Sand Martin, Long-tailed Tit, European Goldfinch, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and House Martin.
A number of raptors have been seen. Look for European Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Red Kite. Tawny and Little Owls may also be ticked off.
London is so well-known for many reasons and birding is not one of them. Consider though, there is a large number of birders based in the city and they are often out and about looking for rarities, new additions to the London bird list or just out enjoying the fabulous hobby of birdwatching!