Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The brisk wind encouraged the young Mute Swans from the Long Water to come out on to the more open Serpentine and try a bit of flying. One of them reached an altitude of about 40ft, and they all came down on the water without crashing.

It's easier for water birds to take off into a strong headwind, as they don't have to move so fast to achieve liftoff.

A Cormorant was flying in circles to gain height in a thermal before sloping off south to the river.

Cormorants are strong flyers but too heavy to soar like gulls, so they have to keep flapping when they are in a thermal. But the updraught saves them from having to flap so hard to gain height.

This Black-Headed Gull with a yellow plastic ring is another one ringed by the North Thames Gull Group. I've reported it, but the web page of its movements is not yet up, which usually means that it's the first report since it was ringed.

But, as usual, it's unlikely to be from far away. It seems that the gulls with glamorous foreign rings from Poland and Scandinavia haven't yet arrived.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull strode ashore with a determined look in his eye.

The Feral Pigeons just stroll away. They know that if they are in an unobstructed place on level ground and a few feet away from the gull, it can't get them because they can take off faster than the gull can. The gull knows this too, and concentrates on pigeons that are in front of an obstacle, or bathing on the edge of the lake.

The young Grey Heron was prowling up and down the edge of the restaurant terrace. Clearly people have been throwing it bits of food.

A young Great Crested Grebe was fishing in the same place.

One of the Moorhens in the Dell was probing the algae on the little waterfall. It seems that small edible creatures manage to hang on here in the fast flowing water.

Great Tits are now absolutely pouring out the leaf yard when they see anyone with food for them.

And the Nuthatches have also become regulars. This one has got a whole peanut, which it will take away and hide to eat later before coming back for more.

A Robin near the Italian Garden caught a cranefly.

The Little Owls near the leaf yard were having a hard time. There was a Jackdaw on the female's favourite branch in the upper tree, and a Magpie in her usual spot in the nest tree.

She had retired to the nest hole. The Magpie flew down to a lower branch, and she stared at it angrily.

There is a report in the London Bird Club Wiki of a Spotted Flycatcher seen in a sycamore tree north of the Serpentine, and also of a Tree Sparrow seen flying in the same place. Distinguishing a Tree Sparrow from a male House Sparrow in flight is not easy, but even if it's a House Sparrow this is an event for the park, since the species has vanished from Central London apart from a small, carefully maintained population around Regent's Park Zoo.


  1. Sweet innocent-looking Black-Headed Gull... not!

    I'm curious about the measures taken to care for the House Sparrow population in Regent Park. Is it official conservationist policy, or is it the endeavour of private citizens?

  2. The birds are fed and looked after by the zoo staff, so it's sort of semi-official.

  3. I recently visited a place with a 17th Century dovecote, and learned that the doves/pigeons were relatively safe from the odd bird of prey getting in as they can lift off vertically, which the bird of prey can't. Had not previously considered these implications of the different types of lift-off.

    1. Never occurred to me that small raptors might get in through the holes. But no, they couldn't fly inside, with their long wings.

    2. and I (naively) didn't -or maybe didn't like to- realise that people kept the birds for food, and that they were generally all eaten before winter so that no grain was wasted on them. So I was told.

  4. The Tree Sparrow was flying east calling, wouldn't have been able to tell if it was a male as it was quite high.

    1. Thanks for the information. I meant that both sexes of Tree Sparrow rather resemble a male House Sparrow. But if you heard it calling too, there were grounds to be pretty certain.

  5. Oh yeah...was wondering why it mattered whether it was a male, as both sexes are so similar, but misunderstood.