Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Swifts were circling high over the Serpentine ...

... and so were a few Swallows.

While I was photographing them there was a loud thump behind me, and I turned round to see a Carrion Crow killing a Feral Pigeon. It was having quite a struggle ...

... until it bit off the victim's head, which settled the matter. An envious Magpie looked on.

I have never seen this before, though I did see a crow killing a Rose-Ringed Parakeet a few years ago. Perhaps the bird had seen the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull in action and decided that it could do that too.

The gull (on the right here) and his mate were sharing a pigeon in their usual place near the Dell restaurant.

After all that mayhem, a cheering picture of a Robin on the railings of the reed bed near the Diana memorial. (Well, not so cheering if you are an insect or a worm -- most of the creatures in the park are busy eating each other.)

At least the beautiful Bar-Headed Goose is a vegetarian, though I don't think it would say no to a slug or caterpillar it found in the grass.

The Egyptian Goose family at the Lido were resting peacefully on the jetty, along with a Coot. A Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail were looking for insects in the non-slip mat. All this changed when a pair of Canada Geese wanted the jetty for themselves, and bundled the Egyptians over the edge.

The Grey Wagtail ...

... and the Pied Wagtail moved to the netting around the reed bed, a good station to fly out from to catch a passing midge.

This is the pair of Mute Swans nesting on the raft at the east end of the Serpentine, half of which was levelled by a pair of swans last year and is now falling to pieces, with large watery gaps where the surface has collapsed. These swans are now rapidly destroying the other half.

These rafts were expensive, and had a fine collection of water plants on them. But they have not been maintained. Swans have broken down much of the fencing and trashed the plants, and the rafts themselves are not properly anchored and are drifting around chaotically. There is a real need to install stronger fencing and repair and replant the rafts before they collapse.

It is still just possible to see the Great Crested Grebes' nest on the island from the shore, though you have to bend down and shuffle about to get a view through the growing leaves. One of the chicks was looking out over its father's shoulder.

A Wren was hopping around in the shrubbery at the northwest corner of the bridge.

A Blackbird in the bushes at the leaf yard was looking for food for a fledgling which could be heard calling from the ground underneath. He accepted some sultanas.

A few yards away, the Little Owl was looking down from the nest hole.


  1. I can't remember if you mentioned this before: the blackbirds that accept sultanas don't come to your hand, do they? Usually being ground feeders, I mean.

    1. No, they don't. I did once know a very confident Blackbird who tried to land on my hand. She fell off. So we never tried again.

      But there is the legend of St Kevin, now the patron saint of Dublin. One day he was praying with hands outstretched, and a Blackbird landed and laid an egg on his hand. He kept his hand still, and she laid more eggs and sat on them until they hatched, with the patient saint keeping his hand open for her all the while. Don't know what happened when he had to sleep.

  2. Nice tale; personally never had much truck with saints.
    Blackbirds' song is my favourite of all, I think.

    1. Mine too. Who needs Nightingales when we have creative Blackbirds and silly exultant Song Thrushes?

  3. How do you do it? Yet again you were in the right place at the right time (for the first example of a crow killing a pigeon). I passed by the Lido around three that day and was mystified by the pigeon carcase. Unlike the famous Gull's victims which get comprehensively stripped this just had a chunk of chest missing and there were no corvids or gulls taking an interest in the potential feast. Your observation solved the mystery of how it happened and left me intrigued as to why it was being ignored.

    1. How odd that the carcase should be ignored. Too tough when fresh? A Raven would have had no difficulty here.

  4. I came across this thread when I googled 'crow pigeon' - it would seem this kind of event is quite common. Yesterday I watched a hooded crow attack a wounded pigeon just outside my house in Helsinki, Finland. The crow was on top of the pigeon and kept pecking away at its head, the pigeon tried many times to get away but the crow kept a firm grip and was relentless in its attack. After a couple of minutes the pigeon's head and neck area was a real mess, I think the crow was actually eating part of the head, presumably the brain. It eventually decapitated the pigeon and immediately flew off with the head in its beak, leaving the carcass in the road. The crow did not return and after four minutes or so a large gull flew down and started devouring the body of the dead pigeon.

    1. Thanks for this observation. I've several times seen Carrion Crows attacking wounded birds. I don't know what state the pigeon here was in before the attack, because I didn't see it from the start, but I would not be at all surprised if the pigeon had shown signs of being an easy victim.