In my last article I featured a lame duck in Alleyn Road. Not to be outdone by their neighbours a stray Goose appeared during August in Alleyn Park, the identification of which was a puzzle as the appearance did not conform to any illustrations. In fact it was a juvenile Egyptian Goose. Rather like the ubiquitous Canada Geese Egyptian Geese originated in escapes from ornamental collections that have established breeding populations in East Anglia and the South East and can be seen in various of the London park lakes and indeed sometimes in Dulwich. Young birds are of course inexperienced and whether this one found its way to a more suitable site or survived either the traffic or the foxes we shall never know.
In the last article I lamented the loss of our House Martins. In fact a single pair did arrive very late in June, and took possession of an old nest to breed successfully. The species is clearly in some trouble and as this year’s experience shows it is important that we do not remove old nests from our eaves, especially when houses are being painted. In a dry summer, particularly when the birds arrive late they may not be able to find enough mud to build new nests. However their problem may lie more with their migration than with us and surprisingly nobody has ever been able to discover where exactly in Africa their winter quarters lie. We just need to give them as much help as we can when they get here.
I have had a report that Firecrests can once again be found in the woods and besides our small population of Nuthatches it is once again possible to find a Tree Creeper. This is a little bird,quite difficult to spot that may look like a mouse climbing the trunk of an Oak or an Ash tree. It has a short curved beak with which it probes bark crevices and unlike the Nuthatch is unable to turn downwards so that after climbing a trunk it flies down to start again. Historically they used to breed in the oak trees of Cox’s walk, but there has not been a recent record there.
Dave Clark has undertaken his regular count of the birds in Dulwich Park and reported an exceptionally early arrival of a group of Redwings along with a Grey Wagtail. But more notable was a total of fifty two Robins. Now Robins are strictly territorial birds and it is hard to imagine that Dulwich Park can support this number of territories, so there is bound to be warfare with winners and losers. The size of a Robin’s territory depends on how hard it can fight. Each Robin fights hardest at the centre of its territory and the boundary is determined by the point at which it is evenly matched with its neighbour. A strong Robin therefore has a bigger territory than a weak one and therefore probably access to the best food. They don’t seem to need politicians.
Do keep sending records, with photographs if possible. Has anyone seen any Hedgehogs?