The Ring-necked Parakeet (Bexley) ‘study group’ or RNPB for short (well, I just made that title up) organised the first multi-person Parakeet count at the new Danson overnight roost this evening, in a bid to get a more accurate figure for the number of birds now staying the night here.
The participants were regular Danson bird recorder John Turner, Bexley Bird Report author Ralph Todd, Crossness Nature Reserve Manager Karen Sutton and Chris Rose who has counted Parakeets out of several sites in the Borough on the way to their previous roost at Hither Green Cemetery.
Taking up positions at four points of the compass, 678 birds were logged coming in from the north and north-east, 204 from the east, 1,118 over the lake from the south and 170 from the west, giving a total of 2,170. The figure when the roost was first noted just before Christmas was around 900, and more recently about 1,500.
The birds from the west may have largely come out of the wood at that end of Danson, from which they used to fly south-west, so may have mainly been birds which spent the day at the park. Previous counts elsewhere suggest that birds from the east are probably those from Crayford Marshes, Bursted Woods and Martens Grove. Bexleyheath Golf Course is another possible source. Those from the north/north-east appear to be too many for Bursted Woods again, or Franks Park where one past count has been made, and it’s possible they are from Lesnes where no known count has been conducted. The big surprise is the number from the south. Ralph Todd recently noted Parakeets flying north from Bexley Park Woods, whereas at the one previous count made by Chris a couple of years ago they went west, but in any case these can only count for a fraction of the number recorded from that direction. It may be that they are now coming from Footscray Meadows and Joydens Wood, and perhaps even Lamorbey. Fly-out observations at these sites are now needed to sort this out. No birds were seen arriving direct to the roost from the south-west, or north-west.
Numbers of Parakeets were seen to come down to the ground west of and below the roost trees prior to roosting. It was not possible to establish why they were doing this.
Danson is not on the ‘as the Crow flies’ flight path between some of the sites from which Parakeets now appear to be coming, and the Hither Green roost. This suggests that birds which used to fly back out of there have varied their daytime foraging locations, and that some of them have somehow communicated to other birds the shift to Danson.
In the post-count de-brief it was felt that about 8 people will be required to get an even more accurate Parakeet count next time round. Meanwhile, if anyone can let us know in which direction birds are flying as they leave Lesnes Abbey Woods, East Wickham Open Space, Footscray Meadows or Lamorbey, we would be pleased to hear from them.
A bonus for Ralph and Chris as they discussed the plan of action before John and Karen arrived was the sight of a Buzzard flapping lazily eastwards, high over Danson lake.