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Birds seen on the Common in 2020 during the pandemic

A YouGov survey commissioned by the RSPB in January 2021 revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic is making the public more aware of nature in their local area, with 41% seeing wildlife near their homes that they had never noticed before.

63% of the 2,071 adults surveyed also said that watching birds and hearing their song had added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of the pandemic.

Have you ever wondered how many different bird species you might see if you went birding on the Common?

Phil Brown of East Barnet took the opportunity of lockdown to do just that, and in 2020 he recorded sightings of no fewer than 51 !


Perhaps the most “exotic” birds on Phil's list are the ring-necked (or rose-ringed) parakeet and the Egyptian goose.


Photo taken by Charles James Sharp
(Licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Ring-necked Parakeet
(aka Rose-ringed Parakeet)
Photo by Charles James Sharp
(Licensed under CC BY 4.0)

The ring-necked parakeet is the UK's most abundant naturalised parrot. It became established in the wild in the 1970s after captive birds escaped or were released, and the flocks are now a very common sight indeed, wheeling as they do above the Common and all around the area. Their native range is a broad belt of arid tropical countryside stretching from west Africa across lowland India south of the Himalayas, where it is common. Despite their tropical origin, parakeets are able to cope with the cold British winters, especially in suburban parks, large gardens, and orchards, where food supplyRing-necked parakeets feed on a wide variety of fruit, berries, nuts, seeds, grain and household scraps, and are colourful and frequent visitors to bird tables and garden feeders, particularly during the winter months. is more reliable.

Photo taken by Andreas Trepte
(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5)

Egyptian Goose
Photo taken by Andreas Trepte
(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5)

A native of sub-tropical Africa, the Egyptian goose was brought to Britain in the late 17th century as an ornamental bird for the lakes of country gentlemen, and after struggling to survive Britain's cold winters for more than 300 years it is undergoing a population explosion especially in south east England.

Egyptian geese are regarded as pests in their native environment, and some are shot because they munch crops, but being grass eaters they are not good to eat. Since 2019 this goose has been classed as an “invasive non-native species The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 ” in England & Wales, and their import, keeping, breeding, purchase, release etc are now all illegal.

Stunning photographs of the birds involved in Phil Brown’s 51 sightings are reproduced on this page, all but three with the kind permission of the Scottish photographer, Lang Stewart, a retired telecoms engineer who has has travelled around the world capturing photos of all kinds of rare birds. As Lang himself says, watching wildlife in lockdown is an excellent way to relieve the stress of the current pandemic!

Here are pictures of the rest of the species that Phil Brown saw on the Common during 2020 (except where otherwise indicated all photos on this page are Copyright Lang Stewart):

© Lang Stewart

Blackbird

© Lang Stewart

Blackcap

© Lang Stewart

Black-headed Gull

© Lang Stewart

Blue Tit

© Lang Stewart

Buzzard

© Lang Stewart

Canada Goose

© Lang Stewart

Carrion Crow

© Lang Stewart

Chaffinch

© Lang Stewart

Chiffchaff

© Lang Stewart

Collared Dove

© Lang Stewart

Common Tern

© Lang Stewart

Coot

© Lang Stewart

Cormorant

© Lang Stewart

Dunnock

Photo taken by Africa Gomez
(Licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Feral Pigeon
Photo taken by Africa Gomez
(Licensed under CC BY 4.0)

© Lang Stewart

Goldcrest

© Lang Stewart

Great Spotted Woodpecker

© Lang Stewart

Goldfinch

© Lang Stewart

Great Tit

© Lang Stewart

Green Woodpecker

© Lang Stewart

Grey Heron

© Lang Stewart

Grey Wagtail

© Lang Stewart

House Sparrow

© Lang Stewart

Jackdaw

© Lang Stewart

Jay

© Lang Stewart

Kestrel

© Lang Stewart

Little Grebe

© Lang Stewart

Long-tailed Tit

© Lang Stewart

Magpie

© Lang Stewart

Mallard

© Lang Stewart

Mandarin Duck

© Lang Stewart

Mistle Thrush

© Lang Stewart

Moorhen

© Lang Stewart

Mute Swan

© Lang Stewart

Nuthatch

© Lang Stewart

Pheasant

© Lang Stewart

Pied Wagtail

© Lang Stewart

Red Kite

© Lang Stewart

Redwing

© Lang Stewart

Robin

© Lang Stewart

Song Thrush

© Lang Stewart

Starling

© Lang Stewart

Stock Dove

© Lang Stewart

Swift

© Lang Stewart

Treecreeper

© Lang Stewart

Tufted Duck

© Lang Stewart

Whitethroat

© Lang Stewart

Wood Pigeon

© Lang Stewart

Wren