Bedfont Lakes Country Park, quite close to Heathrow, UK, is where my ringing group operates. I joined the group a couple of years ago as a trainee. In the reserve part of the park are reedbeds and a tiny scrap of woodland, while on the southern side we have a managed meadow, an orchard and lots and lots of brambles. The reserve is open to public on Saturdays. There are two hides with a view on the small lakes.
In the UK ringing groups operate all year round. We try to go once a week, if the weather allows. We catch mostly common garden birds such as tits (great, blue, long-tailed), robins and dunnocks, but also reed warblers, whitethroats (common and lesser) and meadow pipits. Other warblers, kinglets, finches and woodpeckers fall into our nets in small numbers too. Below is a tree creeper, quite rare for us.
What I personally get very excited about is pigeons. We don’t get many of them, as they usually bounce right out of the nets which are designed for smaller birds, and more importantly, I am very fond of these gentle and awkward birds. Here is a collared dove, which took a while to realise it was already free to go.
Raptors are also very rare for us. Since I joined, we did catch a couple of sparrowhawks. Here is a female. They’re larger and more feisty than the males.
Her fearsome claws.
Apart from us bird people, there is a group of bat people who come round every now and then to check the bat boxes in the reserve. We ring birds, they ring bats. As you can see in the picture below, the bat rings go on the wing, but they are not closed, only bent over the forearm.
The park is also home to some beautiful and very interesting insects, such as this hornet mimic hoverfly, pictured feeding on a teasel:
Teasels are great – they provide nectar for insects, their seeds are eaten by goldfinches, the seedheads become cozy homes for insect larvae, and the leaves form “cups” holding rainwater. Plus, they look simply stunning.
Another charismatic invertebrate to be found in the park (the reserve area) is the lesser stag beetle.
And here is another eye-catching insect – a forest bug.
I wish I had pictures of some of the larger inhabitants of the park to show, but grass snakes tend to slither away at the sight of an over-excited person trying to get close enough to take a picture with a mobile phone, rabbits are generally skittish, and foxes like to keep a safe distance. They are there though, and it’s not difficult to spot them.