Wednesday, 5 November 2014

There may be more than one pigeon-hunting gull on the Serpentine.  Walking along the north shore towards the Dell, first I found this Lesser Black-Backed Gull eating a Feral Pigeon. This is not our familiar gull -- it has paler legs.


Next I found the usual gull, which for some days has been trying out a new technique of flying in and swooping at pigeons on the ground. I haven't yet seen it succeeding in catching one by this method.


And then there was another pigeon carcase which was being picked clean by a scavenging Magpie.


There seem to be too many dead pigeons for them all to be the work of one gull, however large, hungry and fierce. The habit was expected to spread, and it's surprising that it didn't spread sooner.

A good number of Common Gulls have now arrived, and there were at least a dozen on the Round Pond. This one was preening its wing on a post near Peter Pan.


Common Gulls arrive later and are far less numerous than the smaller Black-Headed Gulls. In past years there have been plenty of them feeding on the Parade Ground, but the hideous German funfair that now blights the park every winter has forced them out.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water was showing considerable skill in catching small perch, hauling them up at the rate of several a minute. It takes young grebes quite a while to become as good at hunting as their parents.


A Dunnock was occasionally visible in the Sunken Garden, rooting around in the flower beds. I didn't get a picture of this shy and elusive bird, but I did manage to photograph a Wren hopping around on the flagstones.


The male Little Owl was on his favourite branch in the nest tree.


I had to leave before the Tawny Owl appeared. At present he usually comes out around 3.30.

This fungus was growing on the beech tree next to his nest tree.


I think it is an Oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus. If so it is edible, and they are on sale in expensive shops. However, this one is 40 ft up the tree.

4 comments:

  1. Maybe (i) since the news pictures went far and wide out of the pigeon-hunting Lesser Black-Back, some new birds, having seen them, came in to have a go??? (ii) or is it like the law of waiting for buses, that it's only after you at last managed to film the event after years of patience, that someone else instantly gets the same thing published and then a whole lot of birds are at it! Jim n.L.

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    1. It is odd, isn't it? It looks as if the number of dead pigeons has reached a critical point at which gulls which previously were just scavenging them have turned their thoughts to getting some of these delicious meals for themselves.

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    2. Not only another pigeon-killing gull but another method too? The remains in today's picture look perfectly dry. Was there any evidence of drowning?
      Just to add a bit more data. You might remember that some time ago I reported on a Lesser Black Back with a dead pigeon in front of Kensington Palace after it had closed. A couple of days later I saw a Crow picking over what little remained of another one at the side of the Round Pond, also seriously bedraggled. Then soon after, on one of the paths leading to the pond, a Magpie having a go at a headless but otherwise intact dry pigeon. All this happened many months ago and since then all I've come across is just one instance of a few pigeon feathers indicating a bit of a fracas. I've got nothing to connect these incidents or implicate gulls in the latter two but I assume the Crow and the Magpie are unlikely to be the killers, more opportunists?

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    3. It is possible that some of these pigeon carcases are from Sparrowhawk kills, where the crows or whatever have found them wherever the hawk has taken them, and have carried them away to pick clean at their leisure. But I wouldn't put too much reliance on the dryness of the remains, as a few hours out of the water will let the feathers dry well enough. Anyway, we shall have to watch carefully for some time before we get much idea what's going on -- if we ever do.

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