Today I went to look at Hampstead Heath properly. It has been the first weekend where I have had a lot of spare time, so I spent a good few hours there. Despite the odd rat here and there, I only saw birds, but I managed to get some good photos! I also took the photo above, which is the view from Parliament Hill across all of London. I think it is such an amazing view, with loads of the main landmarks visible. It also makes London seem so small, bringing it down to a more human scale.
The first bird I saw was a Kestrel hovering over Parliament Hill and swooping down on something. I took one photo which showed the kestrel with high-rise flats in the background and I really liked the combination of a wild bird living in an urban setting. Unfortunately the photo has vanished since uploading and I can’t find it in my recycle bin, on my camera or laptop!
There were the usual Mallards, but also Tufted Ducks. These were funny to watch simply because of the different ‘hairstyles’ each one had.
A family arrived with some bread and started to feed the ducks (Hampstead is quite a posh place, so the bread was seeded and brown, of course). The ducks clearly loved the bread, as they went in to some sort of frenzy. A Black-Headed Gull (with a white head) even turned up and began diving in to the midst of the ducks. You can see in the photo below that there is a lot of splashing!
Whilst the ducks and gulls had a big punch-up, a herd of swans serenely arrived on the scene (I have just checked, and ‘herd’ is the correct term). The swans came right up close and sat around looking very expectant as can be seen in the photo. What I like about this one is that the beak appears to be broken. You can see it is very jagged and looks as if it has been partially snapped off. I have no idea how that might happen, but it must be quite painful!
I carried on walking around the ponds and had a parakeet fly over my head! The first time I went on to part of Hampstead Heath, I saw absolutely loads of parakeets – the past two times, I have only seen that one. It is really annoying, because I really want to try and get some photos of them. I will have to try harder next time!
Over at another pond, there were four cormorants sat on some semi-submerged branches. I quite liked these. They reminded of a gang hanging around outside the shops, but also of the vultures out of the Disney film ‘The Jungle Book’. My wildlife book said that these are mostly found on the coast and on cliffs and the RSPB website says that they are normally seen in the area in winter. I don’t know if these are simply early visitors or perhaps they were just passing through.
I think these guys look quite at home here!
At this point, I also took a photo of a coot that was sitting on some submerged object. It was only a quick snap and I didn’t try very hard with it, but it has turned out as a favourite of the photos I have taken! I am so pleased with it, that I have given it a separate page here. In reality, it’s not actually that good a photo, I just really like the colours.
Once I left Highgate Ponds, I got lost in all the wooded areas on the Heath. It was really busy, with hundreds of people out for the day, so most of the wildlife was in hiding. The only other bird I managed to photograph as this Long-tailed Tit:
This was actually a really hard photo to take, because the bird kept moving every couple of seconds. This means that it is not focused properly, which is annoying, because I really like the background in this and it would look a lot better if the bird was more in focus. I need to get quicker at swinging the camera round!
I eventually found my way out of the wood and was suddenly miles away from home! I had fun though and would recommend going down to Hampstead Heath if you live in London, simply because it is a break from the urban environment. I will try and go again soon and will also be looking to go to some of the parks in London where they apparently have deer! Also, the photos are not laid out how I want them to be, because I have not been able to edit or align them properly, so sorry if the format seems a bit messy. I hope you have enjoyed the read!