By James Brockett
BIRD lovers were shocked by the sight of some surprise visitors to their feeding day in Canons Park - a group of bright green parrots.
The rare ring-necked parakeets, which are the UK's only naturalised parrot species, are part of an estimated flock of thirteen which have been sighted intermittently in the Edgware area for the last two years.
Originally from India, the parakeets were imported to Britain as pets, where some escaped from cages in the 1970s and started breeding in the wild. Up to 18 inches in length, they can be easily spotted by their emerald green colouring, long tail and the pink or black ring around the neck of the male.
The sighting delighted members of the RSPB, who were in the park on October 31 as part of their "Feed the Birds Day". Sharon Graham, of the Friends of Canons Park, said: "The parakeets suddenly appeared in the Canons Park area two years ago and bird enthusiasts were surprised and delighted to see that they have survived the winter and continued to flourish. Other species spotted included sparrowhawks, gulls, wood pigeons, chaffinches and goldfinches."
The RSPB's Robin Morden set up a bird watcher's gazebo for the day, as well as various types of feeding station, in a day designed to get local people interested in setting up birdfeeders. Robin runs free monthly bird-spotting walks in the park on Sunday mornings, and anyone interested can call him 0208 951 1696 (evenings and weekends) for information.
Birdwatchers and conservationists are just some of the users of Canons Park who are set to benefit from a £1m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was received recently for improvements and renovations to the park's environment.
5:22pm Tuesday 2nd November 2004