The hustle and bustle of London life is a source of fascination and inspiration for the metropolis’ many visitors.
Whether it’s shopping on Oxford Street, admiring the Palace of Westminster or marvelling at the mammoth glass and steel towers of the city, there’s always something going on to grab your attention.
For visitors who want to take some time out from all the sensory stimulation, however, Hyde Park offers the opportunity to relax and admire some of London’s wildlife.
The park is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, and recent changes in management practices have helped to encourage new species into the area.
Look closely and you could spy song birds such as the robin, dunnocks and tits in Hyde Park’s trees, shrub beds and herbaceous plantings.
Robins can be distinguished by their famous red breasts, while the word ‘dunnock’ is derived from the ancient British for ‘little brown one’, reflecting its colour. Dunnocks are around 14 cm in length and have a streaked beak.
Small groups of long-tailed tits can often be seen hopping around from tree to tree in search of insects and nesting materials.
These birds have small bodies and long tails, with short legs and tiny, triangular bills. They hang upside down to feed and often move around in small groups.
Hyde Park is home to the Serpentine lake, and this attracts a large number of wildfowl, particularly during the winter. Exotic-looking great crested grebes can sometimes be seen performing spectacular mating rituals.
Bats are also regular visitors to the park, where they feed off the large number of insects attracted to the lake. The best place to view them is on Dell bridge around dusk and also close to Serpentine Bridge.
Look a little closer and you’ll be able to see some of the often-overlooked smaller creatures, such as beetles, bees and ground foraging insects. They are a crucial part of the park’s ecosystem and their preservation is essential for the overall health of the park.
If you’re extra lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of one of the rarer visitors to Hyde Park. A black swan, a buzzard and Egyptian geese have been among the more exotic forms of wildlife seen in recent years.
So next time you’re weary and need to take a break from seeing the sights of London, head to Hyde park and try to spot some of the city’s many fascinating creatures.