Parakeet takes up a perch in a Watford garden

Watford Observer: A ringnecked parakeet. A ringnecked parakeet.

An exotic bird more commonly suited to equatorial Africa has been spotted in a Watford garden.

The ringnecked parakeet is the UK's only naturalised parrot, it is almost as big as a magpie and has a long-tail.

They are particularly distinctive because of their bright green feathers, red beaks and a pink and black ring around their face and neck.

Keen bird-spotter Val Hogan-Buckle saw one of the colourful birds, which is native to the tropical climes of West Africa and the southern Himalayas, perched at the bottom of her garden in Hillrise Avenue.

She said: "I saw a bird on my craft room at the bottom of my garden. I got my binoculars out and found it was a green ringnecked parakeet.

"I thought I was seeing things.

"I’ve not seen any here before so it was a shock; it seemed to be happily flying around the area for some time."

Ms Hogan-Buckle said she was aware of other sightings in Croxley Green in August.

She added: "The Tudor Estate is likely to be a home to these birds. Let’s hope they do not scare off our favourite garden birds."

It is unlikely that anyone will come forward to claim the parakeet, which is a species of parrot, as their lost pet.

The RSPB estimates almost 4,300 ringnecked parakeets are now present in the south east of England.

Sarah Buckingham, from Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: "Ringnecked parakeets became established in the wild in the 1970s, after captive birds escaped or were released.

"The birds are concentrated in the south east of England, and this December there have been sightings in parks and on bird feeders in St Albans, Brookmans Park and Hitchin.

In 2008 the Watford Observer reported how residents in Croxley Green spotted a flock of the birds in the village.

Austin Hollands, of the Watford branch of the RSPB, said it was unusual to see so many of the birds in the town, suggesting they had come from a roost in Twickenham.

The flock of birds, thought to total almost 2,000, may have rock and roll pedigree, as one of the rumours surrounding their appearance suggests they bred from a pair set free by Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

Other theories claim they escaped from Ealing Studios, in West London, during the filming of the movie The African Queen in 1951, or from an aviary during the 1987 hurricane.

Whatever their origin, the birds were made to feel less than welcome in July last year, when camouflaged men were spotted climbing trees in the dead of night, as part of an ongoing mission to eradicate monk parakeets in Borehamwood.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) claimed the Parakeets caused significant damage to crops and pylons, prompting a £90,000 eradication programme.

But can Watford’s newest avarian resident expect a similar reception?

Ms Buckingham said: "It is Defra’s responsibility to assess whether or not the ringnecked parakeet populations are having a negative impact, for example on native birds - it looks like there is some competition for nesting holes with species like nuthatches.”

Comments (11)

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5:36pm Thu 13 Dec 12

andyandyandy says...

Great news. They've been in and around Watford for at least the last five years. Cassiobury park is full of them.
Great news. They've been in and around Watford for at least the last five years. Cassiobury park is full of them. andyandyandy

6:28pm Thu 13 Dec 12

AlbansWoodBear says...

Marvellous - living in Garston (Albans Wood in fact), not far from the Tudor Estate, I've also been seeing them quite regularly for many a year, and of course hearing their distinctive "squawk" - not heard the Jimi Hendrix connection before, but I like it so I'll use this one instead of The Africa Queen one in future!
Marvellous - living in Garston (Albans Wood in fact), not far from the Tudor Estate, I've also been seeing them quite regularly for many a year, and of course hearing their distinctive "squawk" - not heard the Jimi Hendrix connection before, but I like it so I'll use this one instead of The Africa Queen one in future! AlbansWoodBear

6:28pm Thu 13 Dec 12

WanderingDynamo says...

We have them in South Oxhey too. Oxhey Playing Fields & its many wooded areas are home to quite a few and we've had the occasional visit on to our bird feeders recently from these beautiful, if noisy, birds.
We have them in South Oxhey too. Oxhey Playing Fields & its many wooded areas are home to quite a few and we've had the occasional visit on to our bird feeders recently from these beautiful, if noisy, birds. WanderingDynamo

6:31pm Thu 13 Dec 12

WanderingDynamo says...

Just to add to my previous comment.. we haven't seen a decline of the various native birds to our feeders since the visits to our garden from the parakeets.
Just to add to my previous comment.. we haven't seen a decline of the various native birds to our feeders since the visits to our garden from the parakeets. WanderingDynamo

7:54pm Thu 13 Dec 12

kaktuskris says...

I live in the Elstree area and these great birds have been visiting our bird feeders for many years. Initially there were three or four regular visitors, but they are obviously breeding well as the most I have seen in one visit earlier this year was 20. They are noisy and full of character, but in no way stop other birds from feeding. They have a heirarchy amongst themselves and squabble between each other as to who has the right to feed first, but they do not harm or scare off the other birds. In fact they are quite nervous and will take flight very easily, if something or someone spooks them. It's a pleasure to have them around.
I live in the Elstree area and these great birds have been visiting our bird feeders for many years. Initially there were three or four regular visitors, but they are obviously breeding well as the most I have seen in one visit earlier this year was 20. They are noisy and full of character, but in no way stop other birds from feeding. They have a heirarchy amongst themselves and squabble between each other as to who has the right to feed first, but they do not harm or scare off the other birds. In fact they are quite nervous and will take flight very easily, if something or someone spooks them. It's a pleasure to have them around. kaktuskris

9:44pm Thu 13 Dec 12

Ridikulus says...

They've been in the Munden for the last 3 years. They have been getting closer to the Tudor estate recently. Colourful as they are they aren't half noisy!
They've been in the Munden for the last 3 years. They have been getting closer to the Tudor estate recently. Colourful as they are they aren't half noisy! Ridikulus

9:53am Fri 14 Dec 12

theguitarman says...

That's fantastic news, where we are in Oxhey Hall we see flocks of about 10 of these birds every couple of days. This must mean that that one of them has actaully flown about 2 miles. Will the Watford Observer never cease to amaze !
That's fantastic news, where we are in Oxhey Hall we see flocks of about 10 of these birds every couple of days. This must mean that that one of them has actaully flown about 2 miles. Will the Watford Observer never cease to amaze ! theguitarman

10:17am Fri 14 Dec 12

Dave Annal says...

Possibly the biggest non-news story of the year! Ring-necked Parakeets are a common sight (and sound!) around Watford and have been for many years. They're certainly coming into gardens more than they were a few years ago (there are two of them on one of my feeders as I'm typing this) but to the way the article's written, you'd think someone had seen a Dodo!
Possibly the biggest non-news story of the year! Ring-necked Parakeets are a common sight (and sound!) around Watford and have been for many years. They're certainly coming into gardens more than they were a few years ago (there are two of them on one of my feeders as I'm typing this) but to the way the article's written, you'd think someone had seen a Dodo! Dave Annal

10:32am Fri 14 Dec 12

pc49plod says...

Not exactly astounding news, I've seen them around Watford and Elstree for years, Cassiobury Park is a place where you are almost certain to see them. Their call is an easy give-away. What about the increasing numbers of buzzards and red kites over Watford. There are plenty of other 'rare' birds that can be seen, all you have to do is be observant and quiet. Now its getting cold look out for waxwings, another winter visitor and easily identifiabe.Try it, you might enjoy it !!
Not exactly astounding news, I've seen them around Watford and Elstree for years, Cassiobury Park is a place where you are almost certain to see them. Their call is an easy give-away. What about the increasing numbers of buzzards and red kites over Watford. There are plenty of other 'rare' birds that can be seen, all you have to do is be observant and quiet. Now its getting cold look out for waxwings, another winter visitor and easily identifiabe.Try it, you might enjoy it !! pc49plod

11:00am Fri 14 Dec 12

Andrew1963 says...

Loads can be seen from Merry Hill and Oxhey grange allotments. Last May i saw two red kites over Merry hill - chased off by crows - Christmas morning walk through Cassiobury park is a great waqy to spot many birds not normally associatted with urban areas.
Loads can be seen from Merry Hill and Oxhey grange allotments. Last May i saw two red kites over Merry hill - chased off by crows - Christmas morning walk through Cassiobury park is a great waqy to spot many birds not normally associatted with urban areas. Andrew1963

4:40pm Sun 16 Dec 12

pancake39 says...

The trouble is no one listens to bird calls anymore, if they did they'd have known that this bird has been around for years
The trouble is no one listens to bird calls anymore, if they did they'd have known that this bird has been around for years pancake39

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