London is famous for lots of reasons, but did you know it is also one of the cities with the most diverse urban wildlife? Many creatures are living among the unsuspected citizens. Some are well known, but others may surprise you. If you are a wildlife enthusiast who is preparing a house moving to the British capital, we can help you decide where exactly to relocate to. There are many parks and green areas in London, each with its own unique faun. But even if you are not an avid animal-lover it will be helpful to know what to expect in your new neighbourhood.
Taking a sip of your coffee the morning after your relocation is finally over you look out the window and you are greeted by the curious stare of a Peregrine falcon. What is this sorcery, you will ask, how is this possible in the middle of busy London? Don’t be alarmed it is not some deluded animal who escaped from the zoo. You just met one of the many incredible species of urban wild birds. Most native Londoners have never met a lot of the birds described here, but there are always those few lucky exceptions. Be sure to have your camera underhand when you are drinking your morning coffee, you never know.
Once upon a time fifteen years ago, the Old capital was ruled by another bird – the pigeon. They were everywhere and posed a great concern for the good people of London. Thus, the Harris hawks were introduced to the city. Nowadays, teams of trained hawks patrol the capital and keep the squares and parks pigeon-free.
Falcons, on the other hand, dominate the London skies and skyscrapers completely untamed. There are around thirty breeding pairs of Peregrine falcons in the capital. This incredible bird is the fastest known member of the animal kingdom. They prefer nesting on tall buildings, so you have a chance to spot one if you are relocating near the Tate Modern, the Leadenhall Building, the Houses of Parliament or the Charing Cross Hospital.
Once extinct in London, the red kite is back and is here to stay. This beautiful bird is a scavenger and has difficulty when it comes to finding food in the city. Look for it on the outskirts of London where there are more densely wooded areas.
Owls are not considered to be an urban bird, but the facts show otherwise. Almost all of the breeding species of British owls have made London their home.
Barn owls typically live in the suburbs and the rural outskirts of the city but sometimes they wander in the more central parts of London.
Long-eared and Short-eared owls can be seen in winter although they are just passing by while migrating.
The most common species is the Tawny owl. They are not disturbed by the city noises and the crowded streets. You can find them in parks, cemeteries, backyards, as long as there are big old trees, they are there. The Tawny owls can be spotted in all 32 boroughs except for the City of London.
The Little owl is another small hunter that can be seen in the city. This tiny bird can catch its prey during the day and prefers the outskirts of the capital.
Did you know there is a whole flock of colourful parrots living in the heart of the capital of the UK? If you are passing by Greater London, take your time and visit Kew or Richmond Park. You can’t miss them. They are large, green and extremely loud. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds estimates that there are around 8,600 breeding pairs in London. Nobody knows for sure how parakeets end up in the city, so far from their natural habitat – Central America, but here they are.
These charming birds are called Psittacula krameri and belong to the parrot family mostly known by the name ring-necked or rose-ringed parakeets. They are friendly, and love treats, so bring an apple next time you decide to explore the park. If you are fortunate enough, you may end up covered in happy, chirping parakeets.
The UK capital provides a suitable habitat for lots of animals. Although most are nocturnal, you can still spot them hiding in the hedge of backyards or taking a stroll in a shadowy back alley. To all unsuspecting London house movers out there, we would like to introduce you to a few of your soon to be neighbours.
Not surprisingly, we start with one of Britain’s most loved animals. According to the Mammal Research Unit at the University of Bristol, there are around 33,000 urban foxes on the island, with presumably 10,000 living in London. However, they are not easy to spot. Foxes make their homes under thick bushes and tree roots, below old garden sheds or abandoned buildings. A skulk (a term used to describe a group of foxes) typically consists of two parents, their cubs and occasionally of one or two non-breeding females. They are fast animals that can effortlessly leap over a 6ft fence. It’s quite difficult to catch one, and we do not advise you to try unless you want to be left with a nasty bite mark.
Nevertheless, red foxes are extremely curious and love to explore new places and smells. A fox was once spotted riding the London Subway. In 2011, another one climbed 71 sets of steps to end up on top of The Shard – the tallest skyscraper in the city.
Everybody loves hedgehogs, with their pointy nuzzles and shining black eyes, they are simply adorable. These cute pincushions are highly adaptable and can live almost everywhere. They eat a wide range of insects and garden pests but especially love snakes and lizards.
Unfortunately, due to a combination of factors such as climate change and human activity, their population is rapidly declining in Great Britain. To protect its urban hedgehogs, a number of campaigns have started in the capital.
If you relocate to South West London and spot a hole in your fence do not be alarmed, this is a hedgehog highway. Created by the architectural genius of Michel Birkenwald, these holes help the safe passage of the little nocturnal animals.
The London Wildlife Trust has launched a campaign for mapping the movements of urban hedgehogs to preserve their habitats and raise awareness about the issue. Hedgehogs are an important part of the city culture and ecosystem, and we have to do everything in our power to ensure their survival.
Altho it doesn’t like socialising with people as much as the red fox, this shy nocturnal predator is widely spread in the outskirts of London. Badgers are not loners and live in groups, making deliberate labyrinths in their underground layers. There are some significant differences between the animals which roam in the city and their rural relatives. Urban badgers are larger and live in smaller family groups.
If you want to spot this beautiful animal, you need to make a large cup of coffee and prepare to stay up all night. They love earthworms, so you can try to put a feeder in your backyard. However, bear in mind, badgers are protected by law in the UK. Check out the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 for more information.
Britain’s beloved water voles are best described by Kenneth Grahame in his famous novel The Wind in the Willows: “A brown little face, with whiskers. A grave round face, with the same twinkle in its eye that had first attracted his notice. Small neat ears and thick silky hair.”
This small semi-aquatic rodent can be found around river beds with thick greenery. Unfortunately, the urbanisation of London has destroyed most river banks. This is the main reason for the decline in the population of water voles. Those little creatures have an important role in the river ecosystem. In the past years, the British government, with the association of several environmental organisations, are trying their best to protect the species from extinction.
House removals can be quite hectic and tiring, so why don’t you take a stroll in one of the many parks and observe the amazing animals living there. And if you are unsure where to go first, we can help you.
When you are searching for the ideal place to relocate, especially if you have children, one of the most important things is the proximity to parks and playgrounds. And what a better place, than one, owned by the Queen herself. London has eight Royal parks that were originally a property of the monarchy of the United Kingdom and were strictly for the use of the royal family. After the excessive urbanisation of the capital left its citizens with almost no green spaces in 1851, the royal lands were declared public, and nowadays everybody can visit them. The price of the properties is quite high near the former royal estates, but fear not London house movers, in the past years many smaller parks opened doors all over the capital.
Located only six kilometres from Trafalgar square Hampstead Heath is a wildlife oasis. The 320-hectare park provides to its visitors the opportunity to observe wild herds of muntjac deer, take pictures of the funny parakeets and swim along with beautiful aquatic birds like the great crested grebes. There are two swimming ponds in Hampstead Heath, and if you are not afraid of the little chilly water, we invite you to take a dip. There is a lot for the newly moved wildlife-lover in the park – over 180 species of birds, foxes, snakes, hedgehogs, 25 types of butterflies, 18 species of dragonfly and damselfly and many more.
Regent’s Park is one of the eight Royal Parks. It is named after the Prince Regent who later became King George IV. Situated between the City of Westminster and the London Borough of Camden, it contains Regent’s University, Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens, an open theatre and the London Zoo. This is the perfect place to spend the weekend after an exhausting week of packing and house moving. Do not forget your golf clubs because the park can also offer you a relaxing day at the royal golf course.
Regent’s Park is most famous for its amazing variety of waterfowl. Its ponds are home to 650 birds from all corners of the world. You can also spot hedgehogs, foxes, grey squirrels and wood mice. In addition, it is inhabited by five different species of bats: Common and Soprano Pipistrelle, Noctule, Serotine and Daubenton’s bats.
The largest of the eight Royal parks was created by King Charles I to serve as a deer park. Nowadays Richmond Park is of key importance for wildlife conservation and is a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a European Special Area of Conservation. The park is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon the Thames, in the southwest part of the capital. There are approximately 300 red and 350 fallow deer living freely in the park. In addition, you can find around 144 different bird species, a large population of bats and close to 2000 types of butterflies, moths, beetles, and spiders.
Lee Valley Regional Park is a 42-kilometre linear park located along the River Lee and is the only park shared between London, Essex, and Hertfordshire. Half of it used to be part of the Olympic Park built to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics. If you are a sport and wildlife enthusiast, this is the right place for you.
This piece of green heaven provides a home to many wild animals including 200 types of birds and over half of the UK’s species of dragonflies. Water voles, foxes, weasels and another 30 different kinds of mammals can be found in the park.
Last but not least on our list is Greenwich Park, one of the oldest Royal Parks, located in southeast London. During the 2012 Summer Olympics, the park hosted the riding and running parts of the modern pentathlon, as well as the Olympic equestrian. This is an enchanting place, and you will not make a mistake if you relocate near its grounds.
Established in 1433 as a hunting estate, Greenwich Park is still home to red and fallow deer. For all of you, bird lovers out there, the park provides great opportunities for bird watching. Here you can spot up to 90 different species like tawny owls, thrushes, waterfowls, and warblers.
No matter where you come from, the moment you move to the capital, you will become a part of one of Europe’s biggest metropolitans. You will have the possibility to join the hundreds of Londoners who help preserve the city’s wildlife. In the end, we wish to leave you with a positive attitude towards the urban ecosystem and desire to take part in the many campaigns launched across London.
If you want to learn more about the different actions you can take and organisations you can support, visit the site of the London Wildlife Trust.
House removals can be disturbing for urban wildlife, especially if you are moving somewhere in the London suburbs. If you want to minimise the impact here is what you can do:
Before you officially move in, make a thorough inspection of the house. Go to the attic and check the roof. Look for nests and signs of unusual activity (scraps of food, fur, feathers, excrements). If you notice any, you can contact the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and ask them for assistance if you want to relocate the animal.
Many tiny creatures like hedgehogs and rabbits can find shelter in your backyard. In Spring and Summer, you can find tiny babies hidden in your hedge or flowerbeds. If you stumble upon them, don’t touch or move them. Their parents will return shortly. When they sense the house is occupied, they will move the babies themselves.
During a home relocation, lots of packing materials are used. Usually, everything gets thrown away in the trash bin. However, this could be dangerous. Many animals can eat by mistake some of them and get sick or seriously injured. A good idea is to ask your moving company to unpack your belongings and dispose of the leftover rubbish. Top Removals, for example, is a certified green company and has the licence to recycle the waste accumulated during the relocation. Another thing you can do is to use different packing techniques or biodegradable materials. We have a detailed guide on house removals where you can find more information on both.
Tell us what your thoughts are about the capital’s urban wildlife. Have you encountered some of the animals mentioned above?
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