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Bird news

We have already experienced our first warm days, meaning that spring is on its way. However, a few winter visitors such as siskin and lesser redpoll will be present. Their numbers will sometimes increase in March, joined by birds that have wintered further south in the United Kingdom. Small mixed flocks may be found feeding on the alder or silver birch trees in the Canal Plantation or Woodland Gardens, before heading northward to their breeding grounds in Scotland or Scandinavia. There will be a gradual decrease in the number of redwings feeding in the park. These will also soon be heading back across the North Sea, though a few may have come from Iceland.

Skylarks (some of which may overwinter) will be staking a claim to a territory. They do this by soaring high in the sky and singing, before parachuting back down to the ground and chasing off any males that may have come too close. In recent summers we have taken steps to control the spread of bracken in certain areas. Skylarks are a grassland species whose numbers in the United Kingdom have dropped by over 61% in the last 40 years. The skylark breeding zone in the south-east corner of the park has signs asking all dog walkers to keep their dogs on a short lead during the breeding season. This is very important and should not be flouted.

As the month nears its end our first summer visitors may be arriving. It is impossible to say though if these early chiffchaffs and blackcaps have wintered in the UK or made use of a breeze that has carried them up from southern Europe.  Warm sunny days are ideal conditions for seeing large raptors, particularly common buzzard and red kite. These birds make use of the warm thermals and can fly at great heights, causing them to drift away from their breeding areas further west in the Thames Valley.

For more bird news check out by Tony Duckett

Woodland Gardens

The narcissi are starting to flower throughout the gardens at the start of the month while the snowdrops (Galanthus) will be at the end of flowering.

Camellias are now flowering with increased vigour as the weather warms up, and the collection looks to be an interesting one with a selection of historic varieties that are less common in cultivation. Work will commence on labelling specimens as they are identified.

Volunteers and garden staff are continuing with their valuable work clearing weeds, tidying and renovating the shrub beds - adding or moving plants to provide a beautiful display with a longer seasonal interest.

Further information can be found on The Royal Parks web site or via email

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