Bird species in decline

Richmond Park: Breeding Birds

Jan Wilczur, September 2016                            

                                                                                      Photo: Kestrel, John Few

The total number of 51 breeding species is yet a further decrease. Again this is mainly due to several species, represented by one or two pairs, either failing to breed or successful breeding not having been established.

These species are: Pochard; Water Rail; Rock Dove; Collared Dove; Kingfisher; Lesser Spotted Woodpecker; Starling and Goldfinch. Worryingly, given its Red-listing, the Woodpecker may be extinct as a breeding species in the Park.

There was some encouragement in that Buzzards showed signs of nesting and there was the renewed presence of Collared Dove and House Sparrow. Stonechat bred and Garden Warbler was proved to have done so.

Water birds had a poor breeding season, particularly those at the Pen Ponds. At the latter location only Grey Heron had a successful season with an increase in broods and number of young fledged. Of the seven wildfowl species present only Mallard managed to fledge a few young and there was only one brood each of Common Tern, Moorhen and Coot. There was a distinct lack of nests for the latter two species, especially at the edges of the Ponds.

Raptors fared well with the usual Hobby pair successful and Kestrels raising several broods and maintaining their numbers in the Park. Two pairs of Buzzard showed signs of breeding.

Of the open country birds Skylark increased slightly; Meadow Pipit bred again; Stonechat bred after an absence and Reed Bunting remained stable.

Reed Warbler was present again at Pegs Pond and Garden Warbler was proved to have bred- the first time for a few years. Whitethroats seemed stable but without their main areas surveyed.

Swallows increased but there was yet another notable absence of breeding of another Red-listed bird- Starling.

Breeding Species

Key: breeding species in bold;

  • Y= present all year;
  • Br= Regular breeder (i.e. annual);
  • Bs= Sporadic breeder;
  • O= Occasional visitor;
  • P= Passage migrant;
  • R= Rare visitor;
  • S= Summer visitor;
  • Sc=Scarce visitor;
  • V= Vagrant;
  • W= Winter visitor;
  • Amber= Amber-listed species;
  • Red= Red-listed species;
  • Sch 1= Schedule 1 species;
  • RBBP= Rare Breeding Bird Panel species.

Mute Swan YBr, Amber: Three pairs bred unsuccessfully. The Upper Pen Pond pair hatched five young but none survived; the Lower Pen Pond pair hatched at least two young but none survived; the Adam’s Pond pair had seven young which were taken to Beverley Brook from where the parents disappeared as did all the young.

Canada Goose YBr, feral: Several pairs bred. Five young were at the Pen Ponds but disappeared. There were 12 young on the golf course and a pair with one young on Beverley Brook. It is not known if any of these young fledged.

Egyptian Goose YBr, feral: Several pairs were present and a few broods seen. There were broods of 6 and one young at the Pen Ponds but none survived. There were also broods of 5 at Adam’s Pond and 2 at the golf course, but it is not known if any of these fledged.

Mandarin Duck YBr, feral: Three broods reported. A brood of 2 young at the Pen Ponds did not survive. There were broods of 7 and one young on Beverley Brook but their fate is unknown.

Mallard YBr: Six broods of >30 young at the Pen Ponds resulted in 4 fledged young from two broods. Elsewhere there was a brood of 2 fledged young at Ham Gate Pond; a brood of 8 at Gallows’ Pond which disappeared; a brood of 7 at Adam’s Pond and at least three broods of >19 young at Isabella Plantation. In total 6 young were known to have fledged.

Common Pochard YBs: Four pairs present on April 30th but no evidence of breeding.

Tufted Duck YBr, Amber: Two broods of >3 young at the Pen Ponds did not survive. There was a brood of 3 at Peg’s Pond and a brood of 5 at Ham Gate Pond but is not known if any of these young fledged.

Great Crested Grebe YBr: Three pairs present. A pair bred as usual in the Upper Pen Pond reed-bed and hatched two young which did not survive. Another pair lingered by the island and a third pair were present on Lower Pen Pond for a while.

Grey Heron YBr: The heronry on Upper Pen Pond Island fledged six broods of four, three, two, two, one and one young. A total of 13 young fledged. The numbers of broods and fledged young continues to increase.

Sparrowhawk YBr: Presumably bred- a few fledged juveniles seen in summer.

Common Buzzard Y: Two pairs present. A pair built a nest in Prince Charles Spinney which was abandoned and the other pair were seen mating and carrying nest material in Sidmouth Wood. This is the first indication of attempted breeding in the Park since records began.

Kestrel YBr, Amber: At least 12 pairs present and several broods reported.

Hobby SBs, Sch 1 RBBP: A pair bred in the usual wood and fledged one young.

Water Rail YBs, RBBP, and London scarce: At least two birds heard in the reed-bed during spring and summer.

Moorhen YBr: >14 pairs. Five pairs on Upper Pen Pond produced a brood of 4 fledged young and three pairs on Lower Pen Pond were unsuccessful. Elsewhere there were three pairs at Adam’s Pond but no young reported; at Peg’s Pond there were >2 fledged young; Thompson’s Pond held a brood of 3- outcome unknown- and there was a fledged young on Beverley Brook. A minimum of 7 young fledged.

Coot YBr: >15 pairs. Six pairs on Upper Pen Pond did not fledge any young; five pairs on Lower Pen Pond only fledged one from a brood of three. Elsewhere three pairs were at Adam’s Pond with a brood of 3 young seen and a pair at Peg’s Pond had three young reduced to two. In total only one young is known to have fledged.

Common Tern SBr, Amber: 3 pairs present. One pair fledged two young, the second pair nested but failed and a third pair were unable to nest.

Rock Dove YBr, feral: with the refurbishment of White Ash Lodge it is uncertain whether any bred there this year.

Stock Dove YBr, Amber

Woodpigeon YBr

Collared Dove Y: Given the number of birds at Robin Hood Gate Lodge over the winter it was possible that a pair bred.

Ring-necked Parakeet YBr, feral

Common Cuckoo P, Red: at least two singing birds reported in spring with one lingering until May 22nd.

Barn Owl Sc, Amber, Sch 1, London rare: A bird was present in June and on July 25th.

Little Owl YBr: Bred- several young reported.

Tawny Owl YBr: Bred- a few young reported.

Kingfisher YBs, Amber, Sch 1: Single birds were seen on a few occasions at Beverley Brook and the Pen Ponds but there was no evidence of breeding either in or just outside the Park.

Green Woodpecker YBr, Amber

Great Spotted Woodpecker YBr

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker YBr, Red; Sch 1; RBBP; London scarce and declining. A few birds seen and heard in spring at the usual locations but no reports in summer. Breeding has not been confirmed for a few years. There must be concern that this species has disappeared as a breeding bird from the Park.

Skylark YBr, Red: 16 territories, comprised seven at Crown Field, four at Flying Field, two at The Bog, one at Sheen Field and two at Lawn Field. At the latter site a pair attempted to breed but failed and a singing male was present for a while in spring. It was probably this bird which was found singing at Broad Field in the latter half of June. A slight increase from 2015.

Swallow PSuBs, Amber, and London scarce: 3 pairs bred successfully. Two pairs were at Holly Lodge stables with a late brood in the nest on Sep 5th. A pair at Oak Lodge fledged two broods of 5 and 4 young. There was no evidence of a pair at the stables just outside Roehampton Gate. The three pairs are the most to have bred in the Park this century.

Meadow Pipit PWBs, Amber, and London local: A pair again bred at Crown Field fledging at least one young.

Grey Wagtail YBs, Amber: Two pairs probably bred either in or beside the Park by Beverley Brook and fledged at least 3 young.

Wren YBr

Dunnock YBr, Amber

Robin YBr

European Stonechat PWBs, London local: 2 pairs bred fledging 7 young. A pair nested in bracken at Sawyer’s Hill and fledged 4 young and seemed to make a second nesting attempt but no further broods was seen; a pair collected nest material in the bracken at Lawn Field but then nested in bracken beside Lawn Plantation and fledged 3 young. The last year more than one pair nested in the Park was 2008.
Blackbird YBr

Song Thrush YBr, Amber

Mistle Thrush YBr, Amber

Reed Warbler SuBr: >7 territories, comprised at least six in the Upper Pen Pond reed-bed and one in the reed-bed at Peg’s Pond.

Blackcap SuBr

Garden Warbler SuBr: A pair bred in Prince Charles Spinney and were seen feeding a young bird. This species just about maintains its status as a breeding bird in the Park.

Common Whitethroat SuBr, Amber: Aside from the main breeding areas around Conduit Wood and along the western slope between Kingston Gate and Pembroke Lodge, there were at least eleven other territories. These included four at Prince Charles Spinney and a breeding pair at Lawn Field, the first time this species has bred at the latter location.

Common Chiffchaff SuBr

Goldcrest YBr

Long-tailed Tit YBr

Blue Tit YBr

Great Tit YBr

Coal Tit YBr

Nuthatch YBr

Treecreeper YBr

Jay YBr

Magpie YBr

Jackdaw YBr

Carrion Crow YBr

Starling YBr, Red: There were no reports of breeding.

House Sparrow Y, Red: Several birds were recently discovered around Kingston Gate but there were no reports of breeding within the Park gate.

Chaffinch YBr

Greenfinch YBr

Goldfinch YBr: No evidence of breeding.

Reed Bunting YBr, Amber: 23 territories, comprising eight at Lawn Field, six by the Pen Ponds, three at Pond Slade, three in the Condiut Wood area, two at the Bog and one at Middle Field. All but one of the territories were located in open areas with bracken. The population in the Park remains stable and the second largest in the London area after Rainham Marsh.

Jan Wilczur, September 2016