My usual daily walk around Alexandra Park was particularly notable today because it included a sighting of a peregrine falcon perched high on one of the towers of Alexandra Palace.
Peregrines used to be very rare creatures in Britain a few decades ago, but now they are thriving and can be found in many cities, where they love the tall buildings. Here in London a peregrine can often be seen perched on the top of the giant chimney that is part of the Tate Modern art gallery (converted from a power station, hence the chimney).
This is the first time I’ve seen a peregrine at Alexandra Palace. I’m not sure whether it’s only here temporarily (perhaps driven here by the snowy weather we’ve had over the past few days) or whether it’s house hunting now that spring isn’t too far off and the housing market takes off. Ally Pally, with its stunning views and expansive parkland would make a very desirable residence for a peregrine.
Peregrines may or may not be in the process of seeking accommodation in the Alexandra Park area, but there’s another bird that’s definitely chosen to make the park its home over the past few years – the rose-ringed parakeet (psittacula krameri). Also known as the ring necked parakeet.
Over the past few decades this non-native species has enjoyed an explosion in numbers since first putting in an appearance in west London.
I saw my first small flock of parakeets near Maidenhead, west of London, in the mid 1990s and was quite excited by the event.
The parakeets are now becoming a serious pest, elbowing out woodpeckers and other native birds and generally destroying the ecological balance (or what passes as such in the modern world). The parakeets are quite aggressive, and because they start nesting very early in the year (FebruarY) they grab all the best nesting holes. They are also very hardy and aren’t put off at all by the British winter, despite their exotic tropical appearance.
Perhaps the peregrine at Ally Pally will do its bit to reduce their numbers. Fingers crossed.
To celebrate my peregrine sighting here’s a cartoon I drew a few months ago depicting my attitude to the dreaded ring necked parakeet, the grey squirrel of the air.
If you’re interested in birds in Britain please have a look at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds website
If you’re interested in birds in London you can keep updated with daily sightings of interesting birds at the London Birder’s site