Ring necked parakeets and jays aplenty

26 Jun

This weekend we had a very hectic trip to Surrey for a friends 40th birthday, and it gave us a chance for a whistlestop tour of a few of our old haunts from when we lived there from 1995-2002.

Enjoyed a baking few hours in Beddington Park (not Bedlington Park!) just outside of Sutton and just a mile or so from our old flat in Hackbridge. This park is not somewhere we explored greatly when we lived there except to see the albino squirrels that seemed to be almost common there for a while. With Hannah in tow this time though we had a good wander aroundand enjoyed watching magpies and crows bounding around the open grass, and around a dozen jays flitting from tree to tree.

Dragonflies, Damselflies and butterflies (including my first holly blue of the year) were also enjoying the heatwave and the criss-crossing streams lined with reeds – sadly I didn’t have my “proper” camera with me.

Up to the ponds to see what there was in the way of ducks and geese and saw a profusion of young moorhen and coot as well as plenty of mallards, tufted ducks, canada geese and a solitary little grebe.

While Hannah attempted to lure the ducks to a healthy handful of grain I was confused by an unusual screeching sound coming from the trees above me. Standing looking up and scratching my head I then saw a flash of green fly into the tree next to me – a vivid green bird with a long streaming tail and a big rounded head.

I’d seen ring necked parakeets in Surrey before – a flock at Hampton Wick and fleetingly one individual in a garden in Epsom – and I knew they were spreading but I had no idea they were doing quite so well.

I don’t know how much truth there is in the story that these birds originated from a group of birds who escaped from Shepperton Studios during the filming of “The African Queen” in the 1950s, but roosts of up to 3,000 birds at Esher rugby club were reported nearly a decade ago which is testament to how well they’ve adapted, perhaps atthe expense of other hole-nesting native birds.

I tracked the one in flight into the top of a tree and gradually tuned in to around 6 or 7 birds. They sat quite happily in the tree tops foraging and screeching and perched quite openly allowing us to get quite close. Sadly I only had a point and shoot camera with me but still managed a couple of record shots.

Ring necked parakeet (female)

I know they are a bit of an invasive pest but stood in the park in 30 degree heat watching these vivid and vivacious little birds, you couldn’t help feel transported to somewhere slightly more exotic than the outskirts of Croydon!


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