This time last year I reported the unusual appearance of a Grey Partridge in Half Moon Lane and backed it up with an account of Game Birds in Dulwich. Rather facetiously I suggested that the Dulwich Pheasants were on their way to retailers. However, not so this magnificent bird that turned up on the lawn of Olive Flay in Frank Dixon Way where she reported it to be quite at home. It did not stay too long and probably found foraging around the woods or allotments nearby. I would be interested to hear if others saw it.
The wildlife photographers in Dulwich have prospered this winter, and clearly demonstrated the value of having a garden pond, even in quite small gardens. The Hall family in Burbage Road were privileged to have this beautiful Kingfisher, which had been seen both in gardens and the Dulwich Park lake. They also were visited by the ever present Herons which provided further photo opportunities.
The slaughter of a pigeon by a female Sparrow Hawk in our editor's garden of which I wrote in the last issue, together with Brian's dramatic photo, has reminded Rosemary Toler of a similar experience in Alleyn Park when she heard a huge thump of a bird crashing into her window and found that it was a female Sparrow Hawk that had taken a pigeon and was proceeding to devour it upon her patio. She must have been glad to have double glazing. Female Sparrow Hawks are much bigger than their males and clearly can take much bigger prey, leaving the Blue Tits and Blackbirds to their male partners. Interestingly the researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology report that House Sparrows seem to need bushes to survive and this would fit with the Burbage Road colony referred to in David's article. The Sparrow Hawk regularly hunts in Burbage Road and this habitat may be their survival cover.
No two winters are the same these days, this one being mild until mid-February. We have not seen many of our habitual winter visitors and the most striking feature noticed by many of you who have reported has been the large number of Goldfinches. It appears to be a national trend that Goldfinches are moving into towns during winter and often joining the Greenfinches at bird feeders. The mild weather brought early signs of spring and frogspawn first appeared in my pond on St. Valentine's Day, courtesy of appropriately romantic frogs. However the spawn then froze for the next fortnight but duly hatched when the cold weather ceased, as of course do human frozen embryos in somewhat different circumstances).
At the time of writing spring migrants are already arriving and both Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are singing and taking up territories. We can look forward to the arrivals of House Martins and Swifts at the end of April and hopefully some surprise visitors.
Wildlife Recorder (Tel: 020 7274 4567)