Migration being largely over the attention of birdwatchers in June turned to that of the fortunes of the Park's breeding birds. The most interesting breeding record may be that of a pair of Common Terns that have taken up residence on the Upper Pen Pond using the small raft that was placed there for this purpose a few years ago. This may be a pair that tried to breed elsewhere and perhaps having failed relocated to try again. If they do so it will be a first for the Park. Wildfowl have not fared that well with only five Mute Swan cygnets remaining out of the 17 that were hatched.
Kestrels have been unobtrusive but a nest was found at a traditional site containing two young on the point of fledging. They will become more obvious when they join their parents to hunt in family parties. Hobby bred in the Park for a few years and a bird having caught a Swift plucked it while circling over the wood where they used to nest. Hopes were raised briefly until the falcon drifted higher and further away. Water Rails continue to be heard in the reedbed but proof of breeding will be very difficult to establish. Little and Tawny Owl youngsters are starting to “branch out” and may be heard giving their hissing begging cries at dusk: a long established pair of the latter fledged two owlets. The Park's regular pair of Swallows moved to other premises to breed becoming neighbours to the Park's only pair of Collared Doves. Birds of open areas such as Skylark and Reed Bunting seem to be present in similar numbers to last year and Meadow Pipit just maintained their presence with two pairs. Stonechats were thought to be absent but a nesting pair was found and later seen to have three young. Young Starlings have joined their parents to roam the grasslands in chattering flocks and young Jackdaws emerged from their nest-holes to loudly demand food from the adults. For a short while this species was once again the noisiest in the Park.
Whitethroats have increased in numbers and have spread from the enclosed scrub areas around Conduit Wood to other parts of the Park, especially along the road between Ham and Kingston Gates. An unexpected Lesser Whitethroat sang on the last day of the month and the Willow Warbler continued to sing in Isabella Plantation but whether it attracted a mate is not known. Similarly a single Spotted Flycatcher was present for a few days mid-month.
At the end of the month winter visitors, in the form of several Black-headed Gulls, had already returned to the Pen Ponds.
Jan Wilczur, June 2009