Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Two pairs of Grey Herons on the Serpentine island are now paying serious attention to nesting, with two birds standing in each nest, and occasionally flying out to circle the island before returning. This one was photographed on the second downstroke of its enormous magic carpet wings as it heaved itself into the air. Note the patch of feathers lifting at the trailing edge of the left wing. This is caused by turbulence when the wing has a very high angle of attack for maximum lift.

A minute after I took this picture I met Des, who told me that the two Peregrines from the Metropole Hilton hotel had passed behind me as I was pointing my camera in the wrong direction. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. Later I saw the male Peregrine speeding over the roof of the Dell restaurant in a vain lunge at a Feral Pigeon, which fled to the shelter of a tree. The pigeons here are used to aerial attack because this is the hunting ground of the predatory Lesser Black-Backed Gulls -- though these are feeble amateurs compared to a Peregrine.

On the path between the restaurant and the Dell, a Goldcrest was hopping around behind the railings. This picture gives a good view of the brilliant gold stripe that gives the bird its common name, and also its scientific name Regulus regulus, 'little king', because it was thought to resemble a crown.

Again nearby, in the reed bed at the east end of the lake, the Great Crested Grebes were adding to their nest. When they make nests from reeds, they build a higher and wider structure than the usual sloppy platform of twigs and weed. But no one could say that it is a very skilled construction.

Speaking of reeds, it seems that the famous Bearded Tits have now flown east from Regent's Park along the Regent's Canal as far as the Lea Valley. There was a report of them at Amwell Quarry, though this is not certain as the observer couldn't see whether they had rings (which 'our' Bearded Tits both have).

The pair of Egyptian Geese at the Vista have lost one of their three young. On past form, it doesn't look as if the remaining two will be with us for much longer. A moment's inattention and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull will have an easy meal.

Here is one of the three speckled Canada-Greylag Goose hybrids, spreading its wings to show that their markings are as eccentric as those on its head.


  1. Poor Hybrid, it is rather an undignified mess compared with most of the beautiful markings, common and eccentric, that we see on the birds in the Park / Gardens

  2. Yes, it is a bit messy. But if anyone could work out how the speckled bits became speckled while the other parts didn't, he or she would be well on the road to understanding how the normal bars and speckles of birds' feathers form and are distributed, a complex business involving chemical gradients and oscillating reactions. Often the study of the abnormal leads to the discovery of the mechanisms of normality.