Wednesday, 6 July 2016

One of the Black-Headed Gulls that has just returned to the lake is oddly light-coloured. Instead of its head being the colour of plain chocolate as usual, it is more like milk chocolate, with a much darker, almost black ring around the edge. Its tail is tipped with the same milk chocolate colour. It is clearly a year-old bird, since older ones have plain white tails. In contrast to its plumage, its feet are darker than normal for a Black-Headed Gull of this age. It was on the north shore of the Serpentine 100 yards from the bridge.

The Black Swan was preening in the water nearby. Those beautiful ruffles need a lot of attention to keep them shining.

The Mallard at Peter Pan still has two ducklings. She imprudently led them out into the middle of the lake, with Herring Gulls circling overhead.

But if ducks were intelligent enough to look after their numerous young properly, the park would be carpeted with them.

Charlie and Melissa the Carrion Crows, who used to hang around the Italian Garden and the west side of the Long Water, are now more commonly found on the east side near the bridge. Once they see someone who will feed them, they follow past the bridge and most of the way along the Serpentine. Here they are on the roof of one of the small boathouses. Charlie is on the left.

They have one new offspring this year, shown here at the foot of Buck Hill near the bridge.

Their previous one, whom we called Kevin, with his slightly brown plumage, has been thrown out and we haven't seen him (if it is 'him') for a while.

A young Magpie was sunbathing in the grass near the leaf yard.

The male Little Owl was out on top of the chestnut tree. He called to his mate and she replied from the adjacent chestnut, but couldn't be seen.

There was a brief glimpse of one of the owlets in the horse chestnut across the path.

The Little Owl family near the Albert Memorial were also audible in oak trees a few yards southwest of their nest tree, but were not visible when I went by.

A Grey Wagtail was feeding its young on a rock  in the Dell.

A Wren perched on a rose bush in the Rose Garden.

There was a Coal Tit in the yew tree near the bridge. Some of them are still singing, though the other tits have fallen silent.

This is a Blue-Tailed Damselfly. It looks quite like the Small Red-Eyed Damselfly in yesterday's picture, and you can't always see the red colour of the eyes. But the Blue-Tailed has a black stripe through the blue side of its thorax, where the Small Red-Eyed has plain blue sides under the black top.

Update: David Element writes: 'There are three different colour forms of the immature female Blue-Tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans and your photograph shows form violacea or "A-type".  This colour is genuine rather than being a trick of the light and the insect's thorax will eventually turn the same shade of blue as seen in males.'


  1. How do you tell Charlie from Melissa, and how did you sex them in the first place? Jim n.L.

    1. We aren't absolutely sure, but when we first knew them Charlie behaved with typical male swagger. Melissa is a bit bigger and is missing a claw on the middle front toe of her left foot. This year there are a few white spots in Charlie's feathers.