This Sunday a small group of us braved the early morning cold to become ‘citizen scientists’ and undertake the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch in East Ham’s Central Park.
The Big Garden Bird Watch invites anyone and everyone to spend an hour watching and recording the birds and other wildlife in their garden or local park, submitting the findings to the RSPB. This nationwide data (and over 519,000 people participated last year) is used to inform the RSPB’s conservation work and better understand which species are declining and which increasing.
As some East Ham residents may already know, bird life in Central Park and the surrounding area is delightfully, surprisingly diverse. We have chaffinches, goldfinches, ring-necked parakeets, great spotted woodpecker, mistle thrush, as well as the more common species such as great tit, blue tit and robins – all of which we saw on our Bird Watch. Wrens, jays, blackcaps and the pink and fluffy long-tailed tit are also local star sightings.
Footage sent to us by our twitter followers has revealed that the woodpeckers like to peck the CCTV camera poles in the park – mistaking them for trees, or perhaps something more deliberate? And while the vibrant tropical colours of the parakeets lead many to assume that they must be recent domestic escapees – and indeed there once was an urban myth that they were released by Jimi Hendrix – they have in fact been living wild in Britain since Victorian times and have been widespread in London since the 1960s.
We really enjoyed our bird treasure hunt in the park; connecting with nature and forgetting about the outside world for a while was hugely rewarding and infinitely peaceful. We encourage everyone to try it, or to just keep their eyes open to the unexpectedly exotic wildlife that East Ham has to offer.