Tony Drakeford's nature notes


Well before sunset, jackdaws leave Wimbledon common and Richmond Park and head off to their nightly roost.

Flying low, fast and direct in groups of three or four to a hundred strong, 'chack-chacking' to one another they move along Parkside, over Wimbledon town centre thence Morden Hall park and beyond to the Beddington area to roost.

In the opposite direction fly hundreds of gulls in leisurely fashion towards their roost on West London reservoirs. But of course, there is always one that flies the other way!!

Then there are the Wimbledon winter wagtails. Alongside the Centre Court shopping mall is a semi -circle of six plane trees. In them at night roost about fifty pied wagtails. The roost has been in place for many years.

On frosty nights the birds choose the tree nearest to the entrance where it is sheltered from the wind. Very few people are aware of the birds as they go about their busy lives and I've had a few odd looks as they see me staring above photographing what may appear to them to be empty space!!

But glancing upwards we can see the pale undersides framed against the sky (see photo). At first light the wagtails disperse leaving behind tell-tale droppings on the pavement below.

Some of the wagtails stay around the town all day and can be watched running around in sprightly fashion over the station forecourt picking up scraps dropped by commuters.

Meanwhile the jackdaws and gulls fly back to their foraging grounds.