The Skylark in Bushy Park
In Bushy Park we are lucky that from late February through to the end of September we are able to see and hear this once very common farmland bird.
Its song is heard from either the ground on one of the park's numerous Ant hills or, more typically, in the air on bright sunny days when actually pinpointing where the song is coming from can be very hard.
This species loves to breed in areas of acid grassland, a habitat that the park has some reasonably rich areas of. There are two main areas where Skylarks breed or attempt to. One is to the south of Upper Lodge Road which is good quality acid grassland and could be very productive. The other runs adjacent to the Royal Paddocks and has been gradually been covered by Bracken. In the summer of 2013 large sections of this were sprayed with the hope of restoring the area back to acid grassland. This has been successful so far.
The Skylarks have been slowly squeezed into an area in the SE corner near to Church Grove Passage, meaning they are more vulnerable to disturbance from dogs. This area has signage erected for period late March through to August. This asks people to put their dogs on a lead and to keep to the tracks.
Small birds eggs can chill very quickly so flushing an incubating bird can have disastrous consequences. The population has remained fairly stable with up to 14 pairs present although it is hard to prove how productive they are. Hopefully these grassland improvements and interpretation outlining the problems these birds are going through will allow their numbers to increase.
This is normally the quietest month of the year with all species busy either feeding young or teaching them how to survive in what for them can be a hostile environment.
Danger is never too far away, coming from either the resident Sparrowhawk, Hobby or anyone of the corvid family. They will take advantage of any youngster that strays to far from his family group.
If you are looking for elegance then keep an eye on the Diana Fountain. This is where 2 or more Common Terns can be found dipping down and picking insects or fish fry from the surface of the water.
Towards the end of the month it is worth checking the roaming mixed tit flocks for leaf warblers. The local Chiffchaffs will join them but so will Willow Warblers and even the rarer Wood Warbler.
For more bird news check out The Regent's Park Birds Blog by Tony Duckett, it also covers bird sightings in Bushy Park.
The Woodland Gardens
Some of the bulb area will be cut down and taken back into grass land for the summer, whilst other areas are to be left for invertebrates and will be cut back in late August. This is part of the planned annual management of the grass lands in the Woodlands which intended to prevent pernicious weeds from taking over the area. Nettles are to be left in designated areas mainly in Birch Glade for the butterflies. Camellias are to be pruned to encourage the foliage to thicken up lower down to maintain ground cover. If there is a long hot dry spell the new plantings will be watered to keep them alive. We apologise in advance if you get wet due to the watering.