Dave Dawson’s natural history notes for 17th February:-
The Black-headed gulls are returning to their breeding areas in February, the count being down to 85 birds. Mute Swans (69 birds) and Coots (137 birds) remain in higher numbers than in the previous 30 years. Gadwalls have been seen increasingly on the lake in recent years, but those were in the breeding season and this year is the first that they have been seen in winter, with five birds this month. Resident birds are in full song: Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Goldcrests, Great Tits, Green Woodpeckers, Greenfinches, Robins, Ring-necked Parakeets, Song Thrushes, Stock Doves and Wrens. There’s a good display of Snowdrops around the park, including a blowsy variety near the Home Park Road entrance. Less conspicuous are the deep coloured flowers of Sweet Violet, our only scented violet, two clumps of which can be seen on the southern edge of Horse Close Wood. Hazel catkins are still showing, especially the planted ones on the Tube Line embankment. Leaves of Daffodils, Bluebells and Lords-and-Ladies are pushing up. They will be in flower soon. Look out for the native Bluebells in Horse Close Wood, those elsewhere are the garden hybrid. Lords-and-Ladies can be seen in the part of Ashen Grove Wood by the Children’s Playground and also in the hedgerows and Horse Close Wood.