We put together a part-day London birding tour for Chris from Virginia on 15th August, kicking off at Richmond Park with a huge mixed flock of birds slowly working their way through the trees and bushes. Among the Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits were Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Blackcap and Coal Tit. A Stock Dove delivered its bellowing 'song' before flying out the back of an oak.
Further along the path, we encountered Treecreepers and Nuthatches, while dozens of Ring-necked Parakeets flew here and there and a juvenile Wren popped out into the open. It wasn't long before we were hearing the 'yaffling' calls of Green Woodpeckers.
One of the focal points of Richmond Park for birding is Pen Ponds, so we made tracks for this wetland area. We weren't disappointed, with birds on offer including a dozen Mandarin Ducks and a family of Great Crested Grebes, with Sand Martin, Swallow and Common Tern patrolled the water. A couple of Grey Herons loafed around the edges.
Continually being teased by the calls of Green Woodpeckers, we moved around the south side of the upper pond where one eventually gave itself up as it rested on a tree trunk. We also noted three Great Spotted Woodpeckers during the walk.
A Hobby sliced through the sky overhead, then another, and the two graceful falcons circled a while, one occasionally mock-diving at the other.
Making our way through the open area known as 'Pond Slade', we spotted three Whinchats and a couple of Whitethroats in the bracken. As we were enjoying these birds, a male Reed Bunting made popped its head up before delivering food a nearby nest. A Kestrel in heavy moult hovered behind us.
We moved on to Beddington, spotting a Sparrowhawk flying over the road in Morden en-route. Another of these small raptors passed over us in Beddington Park, where we enjoyed a roosting Little Owl, four Swifts and a family of Little Grebes.
There was another mixed flock to work through as we arrived at Beddington Farmlands, this one containing Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Along the path we encountered several Greenfinches and Goldfinches.
A Hobby flew through our view from the southern hide, a rare sight at Beddington this year. At the North Lake, we enjoyed Pochard, Gadwall and Shoveler as additions to our set of wildfowl for the day, while five Lapwings were loafing on the main island and two Little Egrets fished in the shallows.
We counted around 20 Stock Doves along our route, as well as three Kestrels, and a few more Swifts passed through. A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker afforded close views as we headed back along the path.
It was a relief when one of the three Cetti's Warblers heard eventually afforded a quick view as we put in some more time for this species at the end of the tour, the 11th lifer of the day for Chris!