Monday, 16 September 2013

Ring-necked Parakeet

With the birding on the south  coast still slow we decided to visit the London Wetland Centre to see if the Garganey was still there and also Richmond Park to catch up with the Ring-necked Parakeets. This was my first visit to the Wetland Centre as I had been put off by the thought of the drive through London. It's not my idea of the best way to start a days birding.

Actually, the drive up there wasn't too bad but the birding was just as slow as our local patch. There were plenty of ducks around including Shoveler and Gadwall but no Garganey that we could see and very few other birds. There were a couple of Snipe visible but no other waders. It's an impressive site and I think we would visit again but I would need convincing that it attracts the waders in the winter.

When we told a local birder that we were going off in search of Parakeets and that it would be a life tick for me in this country he fell about laughing. The birds are very common up there, as we were to find out later, and he found it difficult to believe that we did not have them on the south coast. In fact they are a very sedentary species and will not move out of their home patch unless forced to, so their migration south has been very slow.

Ring-necked Parakeet

I have to say , the bird does look unusual flying around in an English park, but it is very colourful and is great to see. There is no difficulty in finding them as the loud squawking sound immediately tells you where to look. The problem is that they quickly disappear once they land in a tree.

Blending in well with the leaf cover

Bright red beak making it easier to spot
At one point we were searching a tree for three or four birds that we had seen land. They were proving difficult to isolate from the background of twigs and leaves but then something spooked them and fifty plus birds suddenly irrupted from the tree. 

Even Parakeets need some peace and quiet

Iridescent colours when the sun catches them
The bird, also known as a Rose-ringed Parakeet was first recorded as successfully breeding in the wild in England in 1969. The population is believed to have been established by birds that escaped from aviaries and others released by sailors returning from the tropics. It is an aggressive bird and a hole-nester and there is concern that it might drive out British hole-nesting species such as woodpeckers. It also causes major crop damage, especially to fruit trees. As such it has been classified as a pest.

Pest or not it is a great bird to see

You also have to look out for the local wildlife. I always keep an eye out for adders when I walk across the commons but treading on a sleeping stag in the undergrowth is a different scale of problem.

Tread carefully

At the moment the stags are calm but give it another few weeks, when they are in full rut, getting back to the car could be a bit more difficult.

I think another visit to the park is called for in a few weeks time, when the stags will be in rut and the Parakeets will have less leaf cover to hide in.

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