Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Birding Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Hyde ParkA and Kensington GardensB (open dawn to dusk) are located in the heart of Inner London (City of Westminster and Inner London Sector) and are easily accessible by the many public transport routes that take in the general area.
Both sites, though technically separate, are contiguous and are divided from each other by West Carriage Drive (the bridge). The home to the original Crystal Palace, Speaker's Corner, Kensington Palace, The Serpentine Gallery, George Frampton's much loved Peter Pan sculpture, the Albert, Hudson and Diana Memorials, The Speke Monument and Physical Energy, plus many famous concerts and events, the site (as with many within Inner London), is heavily utilised by the general public.
Habitat comprises many old horse chestnuts and limes (particularly in Kensington Gardens), open and amenitised grassland dotted with wooded enclosures, more formal areas, small patches of rough grassland, a lake (The Serpentine in Hyde Park and The Longwater in Kensington Gardens) and The Round Pond (also in Kensington Gardens), long known for its model boat sailing on Sundays.
Some good local birding can be had with a bit of luck and much regular watching. The 625 acres (combined) have had a lengthy birdwatching history reflected in a species list that currently stands at 188. There is no waterfowl collection here though the occasional bird turns up attributable to one of the nearby collections (St. James' ParkC and Regent's ParkD).
Early morning is always best for birding purposes, before any disturbance kicks in, and interesting local/London species to have so far occurred have included: Bewick's and Whooper Swan, Garganey, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, all three sawbills, Red-throated Diver, Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe, European Storm and Leach's Storm-petrel, Little Egret, Gannet, Shag, Red Kite, Osprey, Merlin, Peregrine, Water Rail, Corncrake, Avocet, Sanderling, Little Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Mediterranean, Little, Ring-billed, Yellow-legged, Iceland and Glaucous Gull, Kittiwake, Little and Black Tern, Guillemot, Razorbill, Little Auk, Turtle Dove, Short-eared Owl, Nightjar, Hoopoe, Shore Lark, Woodlark, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Grasshopper and Marsh Warbler, Firecrest, Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Crow, Twite and Snow Bunting. The vast majority of these species are unlikely to be found on any ad-hoc visit and many of the more interesting records are from past decades. However, regular watching should repay with uncommon local species now and then.
Residents and regulars include the most significant Inner London population of Mute Swan (occasionally numbering 100+), Mandarin, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted and Ruddy Duck, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Stock Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Tawny Owl, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song and Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Long-tailed and Coal Tit and Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Migrant breeders include House Martin at the periphery of the site and Blackcap. A fair range of passage migrants can be expected annually such as Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Skylark, the three regular hirundines, Tree and Meadow Pipit, Yellow and White Wagtail, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Fieldfare, Redwing, warblers (including the occasional Wood), Spotted and Pied Flycatcher (the former no longer breeding), Jackdaw, Brambling, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting.
Furthermore, in most years there are records of species such as Wigeon and Pintail which pose questions regarding origins. Some examples are undoubtedly wild, others less likely to be so. There are also regular records of Red-crested Pochard that are always considered to be of dubious provenance.
All in all, the site is a typical, though well managed, urban park — but with a bird list that certainly holds its own.
Mute Swan (D. Lindo)
Feral Pigeon (D. Lindo)
Mediterranean Gull — winter (D. McKenzie)
Common Starling — winter (D.McKenzie)
Tufted Duck (D. McKenzie)