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Working towards a career in conservation, volunteer and photographer James has turned his camera towards Brompton Cemetery to document the birds and animals that call it home. The early results of his surveys show a cemetery that’s teeming with life.

squirrelI’ve been doing wildlife photography around the capital for just over a year now, primarily focusing on the large outdoor spaces such as Richmond Park, Bushy Park & St. James’s Park.

While all of these sites have wonderful wildlife to experience, much of it is well documented and catalogued.

Apart from some preliminary surveys made there’s a lack of any consistent records found at Brompton Cemetery, which is something I’ve been trying to rectify.

The Royal Parks have always been a vital place in the capital for capturing wildlife for me, so I wanted to give something back.

Promising early signs

In the visits I’ve made so far I’ve recorded a surprising variety of species around the site, with different species being found in specific areas.

Grey squirrels were of course numerous, as were the more obvious bird species like rock doves (more commonly known as pigeons!), carrion crows, robins and magpies, which were widespread across the entire cemetery, and very easy to get quite close to.

There were also a number of both adult and juvenile blackbirds, blue and great tits at across the cemetery, although they tended to be on the paths in between the central road and the outer paths alongside the edges of the cemetery, flying between the cover of bushes and some of the denser trees, with the blue and great tits seeming to favour the coniferous trees.

I had one sighting of a wood pigeon as well, although there are likely more around the cemetery.

A passing jay


Most surprising was the presence of several wrens scampering about in some of the undergrowth, as well green woodpeckers and one Eurasian jay.

While the jay was likely a transitory visitor after acorns, the green woodpeckers, who are largely sedentary outside of breeding seasons, are probably resident to the cemetery itself, feeding on ants in the patches of open grass predominantly around the outer edges of the grand circle.

Even though it’s late in the year, there were also still a few butterflies about, most notably small whites and red admirals.

While I didn’t see any foxes during my visits, there were obvious signs of their tracks going into the brambles and across some of the longer grass.

While the presence of red foxes suggests that there are voles, mice and rats available as prey species, foxes are also known to feed on fruits including blackberries in the autumn, so they likely have a healthy supply of food growing in their roof.

I’m planning to continue these surveys at least once a month to try and build up a comprehensive, year-round record of what species are residents and visitors in the cemetery.

- James Hamilton, volunteer for The Royal Parks

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