Trip Report: England, October 10-18, 1998

Ted Floyd, Philadelphia, USA;

I visited England during October of 1998. It was my first visit ever to the Palearctic. I arrived on 10 Oct., and I departed on 18 Oct. The trip was not primarily for birding, but I managed to spend a few hours birding on most days. I spent most of the time in London, and I visited several London parks that are accessible by public transportation. I also spent one day in the Lake District (and two days travelling to and from this location).

I spent most of my time in upland terrestrial habitats. The only aquatic habitats that I encountered were several ponds in London's parks and a small lake in the Lake District. I did not visit any coastal or estuarine habitats.

Places Visited:

HAMPSTEAD HEATH (HH), in n. London. It is approximately 500 acres of open parkland, about 10 small ponds, and a few small groves of deciduous trees. It is extremely heavily peopled, at all times of the week. I visited on these dates: 10 Oct., 11 Oct., 12 Oct., 15 Oct.

HYDE PARK (HP), in cent. London. I visited on 11 Oct. There were at least 5000 people in this 200+ acre park. The most significant spot was a centrally located pond at least 10 acres in size.

LAKE DISTRICT (LD), in nw. England, near the border with Scotland. I arrived late in the day on 13 Oct., I birded intermittently during 14 Oct., and I departed on the morning of 15 Oct. All of my birding was confined to within 2 miles of a small body of water called Rydal Lake. Significant habitat offerings included: mixed coniferous/deciduous woodlots; bracken-covered mountain foothills; lake edge and open lake.

RICHMOND PARK (RP), in sw. London. A large (c3000 acres) urban park, with several small ponds, dense bracken tangles, oak woodlots, and much open parkland. People and deer were numerous. I visited for several hours on 16 Oct.

WORMWOOD SCRUB (WS), in w. London. Extensive playing fields ringed with a narrow strip of weeds and woods. A weedy patch in the western corner was good. I visited for several hours on 17 Oct., and it was very windy during my visit.

Birds Seen

  1. Podiceps cristatus (GREAT CRESTED GREBE). 2, HP; 1, LD.
  2. Phalacrocorax carbo (GREAT CORMORANT). 1, HH; 1, HP; 11, LD; plus several seen in flight over cent. London.
  3. Ardea alba (GREAT GRAY HERON). 1, HH; 5, LD.
  4. Cygnus olor (MUTE SWAN). 2, HH; 2, HP; 4, LD; 2, RP.
  5. Anser anser (GREYLAG GOOSE). 8, HP. These birds may have been part of a non-migratory feral flock. However, it was interesting to note that the birds were capable of sustained flight, and that they exhibited no evidence of hybridization. According to an RSPB official at LD, my visit to England coincided with the season's first significant influx of of migrant Anser and Branta flocks.
  6. Branta canadensis (CANADA GOOSE). Numerous at HH, HP, LD, and RP; also, throughout London, and from the train to LD. This species seems as common in England as in the USA.
  7. Anas penelope (EURASIAN WIGEON). 15+, RP.
  8. Anas platyrhynchos (MALLARD). Widespread in small numbers, as in the USA.
  9. Anas strepera (GADWALL). c5, RP.
  10. Anas acuta (NORTHERN PINTAIL). 4, RP.
  11. Anas clypeata (NORTHERN SHOVELER). 3, RP.
  12. Oxyura jamaicensis (RUDDY DUCK). 1, RP. This bird was constantly harrassed by a Black-headed Gull.
  13. Aythya ferina (COMMON POCHARD). 1 male, HH; 1 pair, RP.
  14. Aythya fuligula (TUFTED DUCK). Numerous at HH, HP, LD, and RP.
  15. Aythya marila (GREATER SCAUP). Distribution and abundance as Tufted Duck.
  16. Mergus merganser (COMMON MERGANSER). 3, LD.
  17. Accipiter nisus (SPARROWHAWK). 1, HH; 1, LD; 1, RP.
  18. Buteo buteo (COMMON BUZZARD). 5, LD.
  19. Falco tinnunculus (EURASIAN KESTREL). Widespread and common; I saw many from the train to LD, and I even saw one hunting over busy Picadilly Circus in central London.
  20. Phasianus colchicus (RING-NECKED PHEASANT). 2, LD.
  21. Gallinula chloropus (COMMON MOORHEN). Readily encountered on even the smallest bodies of water. I found the species to be very trusting and confiding, just the opposite of the aloof and retiring moorhens in America.
  22. Fulica atra (EURASIAN COOT). Widespread, although not so ubiquitous as the moorhen.
  23. Larus ridibundus (BLACK-HEADED GULL). The most widespread and abundant bird of the trip. Large numbers on ponds and fields everywhere, and enormous numbers on the train ride between London and LD.
  24. Larus canus (COMMON GULL). 1, WS; hanging out with a large flock of Black-headed Gulls.
  25. Larus argentatus (HERRING GULL). Widespread in small numbers.
  26. Larus marinus (GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL). A few along the Thames River in cent. London.
  27. Larus fuscus (LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL). Widespread in small numbers; moderate numbers at HP and along the Thames River in central London.
  28. Columba palumbus (WOODPIGEON). Widespread and abundant; nearly as conspicuous as Black-headed Gull.
  29. Columba livia (ROCK DOVE). Abundant in London away from parks; lesser numbers elsewhere. I saw one bird that I believe was a Rock Dove X Woodpigeon hybrid.
  30. Psittacula krameri (RING-NECKED PARAKEET). 30+, RP. From what I understand, this species is well established in and around RP. Seeing and hearing the large flock in flight was memorable.
  31. Alcedo atthis (EURASIAN KINGFISHER). 1, HH.
  32. Picus viridis (GREEN WOODPECKER). 8, HH; 5, RP. I think this is one of the most beautiful birds I saw in England.
  33. Dendrocopos major (GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER). 1, HH; 1, LD; 1, RP. A very handsome bird.
  34. Alauda arvensis (SKYLARK). 1, RP; 1, WS.
  35. Hirundo rustica (BARN SWALLOW). 2 each on 2 separate dates at HH. Of course, all individuals were of the Eurasian subspecies, which I had never before encountered.
  36. Anthus pratensis (MEADOW PIPIT). 15+, RP; 5, WS.
  37. Anthus trivialis (TREE PIPIT). 1, WS. I believe this may have been a fairly late record for this species, and I therefore studied the bird very carefully. Based on its vocalizations, behavior, and plumage, I believe it could not have been a Meadow Pipit or any other species of pipit. WS is said to be a good spot for pipits, including lingering Tree Pipits. The bird was in the general company of -- but not actively consorting with -- a Skylark and a small flock of Meadow Pipits.
  38. Motacilla alba (PIED WAGTAIL). 1, WS.
  39. Motacilla cinerea (GRAY WAGTAIL). 1, HH.
  40. Troglodytes troglodytes (WINTER WREN). Very common, very evasive.
  41. Prunella modularis (DUNNOCK). 5, HH; 2 LD.
  42. Erithacus rubecula (EURASIAN ROBIN). Widespread and abundant. Many birds were in full song, despite the late date.
  43. Saxicola torquata (STONECHAT). A minimum of 4, all together, in the bracken at RP. I believe there were 2 males and 2 females.
  44. Turdus merula (EURASIAN BLACKBIRD). Widespread and fairly common.
  45. Turdus iliacus (REDWING). 4, LD. A single flock.
  46. Turdus philomelos (SONG THRUSH). 3, HH; 100+, LD.
  47. Turdus viscivorus (MISTLE THRUSH). 5+, HH.
  48. Phylloscopus trochilus (WILLOW WARBLER). 3, HH. I saw about 15 Phylloscopus warblers during my several visits to HH. Possibly all the unidentified Phylloscopus warblers were Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita), but I was not confident enough to say so.
  49. Regulus regulus (GOLDCREST). 5+, HH; 2, LD; 5+, RP.
  50. Parus caeruleus (BLUE TIT). Conspicuous and numerous everywhere I went. Typically, I saw 2-3 at a time.
  51. Parus major (GREAT TIT). Perhaps even more frequently encountered than Blue Tit, but less likely to be found with conspecifics.
  52. Parus ater (COAL TIT). 1, HH; 5, LD; 4, RP. Usually in or near conifers.
  53. Aegithalos caudatus (LONG-TAILED TIT). 25+, HH; 10+, LD; 10+, RP. All my encounters were with modest-sized (5-10 indiv.) foraging ensembles. There was something about the corporate jizz of a Long-tailed Tit flock that really reminded me of the Bushtit of the w. USA.
  54. Sitta europaea (EUROPEAN NUTHATCH). 1, LD; 2, RP.
  55. Certhia familiaris (TREECREEPER). 1, HH; 1, LD. Also, I believe I heard, but did not see, this species on about 5 other occasions.
  56. Sturnus vulgaris (EUROPEAN STARLING). Common in residential and business districts.
  57. Garrulus glandarius (EURASIAN JAY). Numerous at RP; small numbers elsewhere.
  58. Pica pica (BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE). Widespread, common, and conspicuous.
  59. Corvus monedula (JACKDAW). 100+, LD; 50+, RP. The RP birds had the interesting habit of perching on the large ungulates (some kind of deer) that inhabit RP.
  60. Corvus corax (COMMON RAVEN). 3, LD.
  61. Corvus corone (CARRION CROW). I saw thousands of medium-sized crows (either Carrion Crows or Rooks) in England. I positively unidentified a few as Carrion Crows, and I also positively identified a few as Rooks. However, I left most of them unidentified.
  62. Corvus frugilegus (ROOK). See notes on Carrion Crow, above.
  63. Passer domesticus (HOUSE SPARROW). Widespread in small numbers, in places of human habitation.
  64. Fringilla coelebs (CHAFFINCH). 5, LD.
  65. Carduelis chloris (GREENFINCH). 5+, LD.
  66. Carduelis carduelis (EURASIAN GOLDFINCH). Flocks of 1, 2, 5, and 20+, only at WS.

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; October 26, 1998