The wildflower meadows on the North side of St James’s Park Lake have come into bloom with Oxide Daisies and wild mustard being among the most spectacular. The bank behind St James’s Park Cafe is also flowering well with Red Campion. Some of the very dense thickets of cow parsley and nettle on the lake edge will be thinned to improve the sward density and give the water birds greater freedom of movement on the bank-side.
Marginal plantings have been instigated in the inlet on the North facing side of Duck Island which should improve the water’s edge habitat for invertebrates. Additionally lily pads have been established in the cottage lagoon area, which will provide shelter for fish and promote aquatic invertebrates.
A new bird feeding station has been positioned on the south facing bank of Duck Island behind the Cottage. The station has already had a number of visitors including a greater spotted woodpecker, coal tits and long tailed tits.
The mute swan pairs have taken nest sites on opposing ends of the lake and the West Island pair has just this week produced seven signets. This behaviour really highlights how territorial the mute swans are. The lake is over eleven acres in surface area but is only large enough for two pairs to breed successfully. Signets usually hatch within six weeks so it will not be long now before there are two sets of signets on the lake.
Currently the two resident heron pairs are vying for potential nesting space on Duck Island. They are highly cryptic and cautions around their nesting site though regularly display aggressive airborne acrobatics if the other pair get too close. It is likely the first time in many years that this species has successfully reproduced in St James’s Park.
Top bird sightings of the last few months
A pair of red kites were spotted wheeling hundreds of feet above St James’s Park on a warm May morning.
- Red kites are large raptors that predominantly scavenge carrion. They have flourished since their reintroduction in the mid nineties and it will not be long until they inhabit the suburban areas of the city once again. After all, the red kite was supposedly the most common raptor in the city until the seventeenth century.
Two common sandpipers were spotted separately on the South bank of Duck Island. It is likely that they were moved off the Thames by a high tide.
- The sandpiper is a petite wading bird commonly found on the mudflats of the Thames estuary. They are typically not seen in the city and do not often remain in the south of England after the winter period. They characteristically “bob”.