As we are all aware, the third quarter of this year has been extremely dry, fine and at times excessively hot and this, of course, has been reflected in our wildlife records. During this time most of our birds moult and they are silent, often invisible and this is more so during daytime heat, except the ubiquitous Woodpigeons and Carrion Crows. It has also meant that our summer migrants pass unhindered by weather and as a result there were fewer sightings of birds of passage. The Swifts departed in mid-August and the House Martins at the end of September.
However, in late autumn our resident birds start to move around and passing overhead were occasional Meadow Pipits, Pied and Grey Wagtails with a total of 25 Pied Wagtails feeding in the Herne Hill Stadium in the first two weeks of October. As I write this report the first Fieldfares and Redwings of the winter have started to come over from their Scandinavian breeding grounds.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the autumn was a sighting of a Kingfisher by Sian Evans in Dulwich Park on September 30th. I have looked through Don Freshwater's records and it is the first definite Dulwich record of this, the most spectacularly coloured of our British birds. It is, perhaps, too much to hope that a Kingfisher would take up residence as we probably have too little water and this record may well represent the autumn dispersal of young birds that need to search for new feeding territories apart from their parents. I would, however, be very interested to hear of any others who have seen this bird.
Birds that have been increasingly spotted in Dulwich have been Ring Necked Parakeets, long tailed green parrots that screech loudly. These are in fact natives of India that have naturalised in Britain from escapes and have become steadily more numerous around London. They favour parkland and so will have been seen most often by residents who live in proximity to Dulwich Park. While being superficially quite an attractive addition to our ornithology they are not entirely welcome as being hole nesters that tend to oust our native Starlings and possibly Woodpeckers from their sites and Starling numbers, not just for this reason are beginning to decline.
The other bird that has been reported by people who have noticed it for the first time has been the humble Dunnock. This has always been present but is more noticeable now so many of our House Sparrows have disappeared. This is the ultimate ornithological L.B.J. (little brown job) but amazingly they have sex lives that would make a tabloid editor's hair stand on end !
The summer produced a good crop of butterflies. The Painted Ladies I reported in the last issue had, as predicted, good hatch in August and were seen in many of of gardens as were numerous Red Admirals. Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Speckled Woods were much in evidence in the Herne Hill Stadium as they flourish and breed in uncut grass. There was a late summer hatch of Common Blues in the stadium's rough ground which was encouraging as I had thought that this small colony had died out. Holly Blues were , of course, more numerous and these are the blue butterflies that we see in our gardens. I would welcome any reports of other butterflies or unusual insects that people are seeing.
I have had no reports of Bats. Daubenton's Bat, Noctules and Pipistrelles are said to occur in and around London so reports of these would be welcome. I note that the London Wildlife Trust has put up bat boxes in the woods but I have no knowledge as to whether these have been occupied.
By the time this report comes out, winter will be with us and I would encourage people to put up squirrel resistant bird feeders which will guarantee good winter watching.
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