Monday, March 26, 2007

Heron Heights

Breeding is in full swing at the Regent's Park Grey Heron colony. While some chicks are now fledging, other pairs are still at the nest construction stage. I managed another lunch break to observe these superb birds in action.

The female from the pair below appears more experienced at nest building than her mate.

While the female selects twigs of the correct size, the male arrives and gets in the way, or is he just showing her how to do it?

Then he spies an ideal branch, a little out of reach, but worth the effort...

Struggling with his contribution the female looks away, unimpressed by his bravado.

He realises he has bitten off more than he can chew - unable to fly off with the cumbersome branch...

...he eventually selects a smaller, fallen twig and flies off...

Meanwhile back at the nest, the female finds an intruder... a prehistoric-looking fledgling from a nearby nest, temporarily resting on the developing structure following a practice flight around the canopy.


regents park said...

Hi Fraser.

You seem to spend a fair amount of time in
my patch. It is funny that our paths have never crossed. If I say so myself Regents is the best Royal Park. The reason I am writing is just to add my slant on Parakeets. This park is lacking in the number of mature trees especially native species. The oldest trees are around 150 years old, these are mainly London Planes and Ash. The Ash are now coming to the end of there lives and are ideal for hole nesting species. Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers are increasing and love these trees as do the declining Starlings. We have noted on at least 2 occasions Parakeets going into these holes on the few times that they have appeared in the park. If a small flock should turn up and as they breed earlier they will definately have an affect on the species mentioned.
In large woodlands where the species have been monitored there are enough holes to go around. If they move in to small parks, squares and gardens they will oust the local hole nestering birds. It is probably to late, but I feel something has to be done to stop them expanding further.

Tony D

Fraser Simpson said...

Hello Tony,

Thanks for visiting. I mainly go along to RP during my lunch break, usually just time to visit the main lake. I visit your blog regularly as well – good stuff!

It is noticeable that Regent’s seems free of their raucous calls compared with the nearby parks. The human-altered, suburban landscape is obviously greatly conducive for Ring-necked Parakeets and one wonders if they are likely to spread far from the safe haven of so many bird tables. If our wider countryside was in better condition with more continuous woodland habitat then I think there would be less of a niche for the parakeet. Maybe they will remain in close association with man?

As much as I disagree with a cull, I also have to admit that if conclusive evidence emerges from the study, then we should do something. Perhaps at a local level, nest box schemes designed for the two smaller ‘peckers, Nuthatch, smaller hole-nesting species, etc, which would exclude parakeets could be encouraged. What else could be done? Stop garden feeding of parakeets; better protection of crops/orchard… there has to be a way to avoid the possibility of a mass cull.

Without getting too anthropomorphic, when a fledgling parakeet leaves it’s hole in a London park for the first time, it doesn’t know that it’s non-native and ‘not so supposed to be there’ – it carves out an existence, competes, and struggles to survive and perpetuate as much as the woodpeckers next door.

I think I may have spoken to you one day at The Long Water when the redhead Smew was there. Hope to bump into you soon.