Sunday, 15 July 2012

Some park friends of mine were excited at seeing a mysterious small bird which they couldn't identify. It was in the memorial to the naturalist William Forsyth on the north edge of Kensington Gardens, where clumps of forsythia (named after him) are planted. They said it was the size of a flycatcher -- that is, about the same size as a Great Tit -- and dark brown with an orange patch high up on its breast, almost like a collar, and that it was singing loudly and volubly almost like a Nightingale.

There is a Red-Breasted Flycatcher that fits the physical description, but its song is too quiet and short to fit the one they heard. Another possibility is a Common Redstart, whose song is more similar, but this has a red tail and they were pretty sure that this bird didn't. So, at least for the time being, it remains a mystery.

I went up there and heard a Wren singing,

and saw a flash of brown and orange in the grass but it was just an unusually ginger female Blackbird.

Will keep looking.

The Moorhens nesting in the Italian Garden have four eggs. This is not a secure nest site, but we are all hoping for the best.

The Great Crested Grebes in the absurdly sited nest on the tip of a fallen poplar tree also have eggs, as I saw one of the birds standing on the edge of the nest in that awkward posture they have, and carefully turning the eggs over with its beak. The nest is much too far away to see what is in it, even with binoculars.


  1. Hello Mr Hancock,

    I went to the park today and after the Great Black-Backed Gull. I waited outside the Peter Pan statue for a while but no luck, I saw a Green Woodpecker and a Blackcap instead.

    Not long ago I spotted a female Gadwall. Despite it looks similar to Mallard but it has a white speculum instead of purple-blue which Mallard has.

    Peter Tang

    1. I didn't see the Great Black-Back today either. I think there is a family of Green Woodpeckers on Buck Hill, across the Long Water from Peter Pan, but so far I have only heard faint cries from trees and adults flying about, so I'm not sure.

      Gadwalls are slightly smaller and slimmer than Mallards, and usually the pattern of the female's feathers has greater contrast. And they have yellowish feet rather than the orange of Mallards. So often you can distinguish them even when their wings are folded down over the tell-tale white patch.