Monday, 1 June 2015

A most unusual picture sent in by Mike Meilack: two Carrion Crows cooperating in killing a Feral Pigeon. It was alive and struggling until one of them ripped off its head.

It is possible that the pigeon was sick or weak before they attacked it. But crows have been seen eating the remains of pigeons killed by the notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull, and it is possible that this gave these intelligent birds the idea of doing a bit of hunting.

On a more cheerful note, there is yet another new family of Egyptian Geese, seen near the island. It's not surprising their numbers are going up by 50 per cent a year.

The oldest family of Egyptians are quite large now, and growing their flight feathers. This is the crucial time when they must not be given bread, which can cause them to develop 'angel wing', so if you see anyone feeding them, please stop them.

There were several families of Pied Wagtails on the edge of the Serpentine and the Round Pond. This adult male near island was unusually fearless and allowed me to take close-up pictures.

Near Peter Pan, the Coot that built this nest was strongly objecting to a Grey Heron using it as a fishing platform, but couldn't get too close for fear of that terrible beak.

There were more House Martins on the Round Pond ...

... and a Swallow.

This young Great Tit was in a tree near the bridge, waiting for a parent to feed it.

The female Little Owl made a brief appearance in her usual tree, but she disliked the cool blustery weather, soon went back inside, and was not seen again.


  1. Ralph, a friend has photographed two parent swans and some fairly chunky cygnets in Newbury. There are ten cygnets. Are they all likely to survive, or are casualties inevitable with a brood so large? Your advice appreciated!

  2. It's quite possible that all of them will survive in reasonably peaceful conditions. I have seen a brood of nine get through

    1. Thanks I'll let my friend know that she might be cautiously optimistic!

  3. Dear Ralph, I LOVE your photo of the pied wagtail:)))) You have really caught it's character!
    Best wishes

    1. It was a very obliging bird. It practically posed for me.

  4. Dear Ralph,

    I'm not sure if my previous message made it to you — some complication about signing in on Google! So I'm sending the message again, just in case.

    I'm a postgraduate student from the Royal College of Art on the Critical Writing in Art & Design course (just on the edge of Hyde Park!).
    I'm writing to ask if you would be willing to do a short, informal interview about your experiences of 60 years of birdwatching in the area.

    To explain further, we are about to publish a book called 'Albertopolis Companion'. Here is the link to the website for more information ( and the blurb which accompanies it reads:

    "Albertopolis Companion is a collection of writings about a specific place. The term Albertopolis was coined as a facetious nickname for London’s new quarter of art, design and innovation — a perhaps megalomaniacal, certainly ambitious, imperialistic, optimistic urban plan. That was the 1850s; Albertopolis remains a network of venerable museums and institutions laid out across South Kensington under the watchful gaze of its instigator, Prince Albert. In this book, fifteen new writers offer original perspectives on the area’s geography, architecture, history and cultural life. The results are wide ranging: from an aerial overview and urban critiques, to unexpected encounters with Mormon elders, sparring scientists, tearoom spies and cursed stones. Albertopolis Companion is a project of Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art, with a foreword by Owen Hatherley."

    Alongside the book, we are creating a series of podcasts which visitors would be able to listen to as they walk around the area. This is where we would really love to have some local voices included in the project. Following a short segment I wrote in the book about parakeets in the area (which was partly inspired by this blog!), I'd really like to expand on the presence of birds in Albertopolis.

    Please do let me know if you are willing to do this. We could then set a time and place (preferably Hyde Park?) to do this!

    My email address is:
    My course administrator, Ayisha De Lanerolle, is available to confirm the information I have given you on: 020 7590 4485
    And my head of course, David Crowley can be emailed on:

    All best wishes,

    Fi Churchman