Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The returning House Martins are now beginning to take a serious interest in their nest holes under the cornice of the Kuwaiti Embassy. There are only a few of them so far.

Rain is needed to provide mud for them to repair last year's nests. This is expected on Thursday night. There is much less work for them to do than with a usual House Martin nest, as the stucco roses provide a convenient base.

Another lamp post is in use by Blue Tits, in the path that leads out of the park towards the French and Kuwaiti Embassies.

This oddly broad cobbled roadway is built over the Westbourne river which leaves the park here, and the road includes both the original riverside paths.

A short distance away, there was furious rattling from a tree as the Mistle Thrushes attacked a Magpie. One of their fledglings was perched on a branch.

The Little Owls at the leaf yard are also having trouble with Magpies. Yesterday Tom took this dramatic picture of a face-to-face confrontation with the male owl.

Today he was looking around restlessly, as several Magpies were flying about.

Another Magpie was beside the Serpentine, picking bits off the wing of a Feral Pigeon left by the notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gulls.

A Starling landed on the roof of the shelter at the foot of Buck Hill, bringing insects to a nest under the eaves.

A Long-Tailed Tit posed elegantly on a copper beech in the North Flower Walk.

A Wren sang from an ornamental plant in the Rose Garden.

Another picture taken yesterday by Tom: a Hobby soaring high over Kensington Gardens.

It was probably trying to catch Swifts, of which there were plenty over both lakes and the Round Pond. There were fewer today, and no sign of the Hobby.

The Canada Geese on the Serpentine were taking great care of their single gosling.

The Great Crested Grebes from the island nest were in the middle of the lake, with one chick visible.

Two Coots were passing the time by fighting.

A Grey Heron had found two worms. When it dropped one under its feet, a Carrion Crow swooped in and tried to grab it, but was sent packing.

Another crow was enjoying a bath in the lake.


  1. Coots will be Coots, it seems. Now that I think of it, they do tend to behave in a somewhat orcish manner (I'm not sure if that word exists - Tolkien used it, so I guess it's fine). Great contrasting set of pictures with the elegant Long-tailed Tit and the rather squatter but so very charming Wren!

    1. Orcish, as a language, has been expanded by RPG fans. They seem to consider it the same as the 'Black Speech' of Mordor -- not sure whether Tolkien intended that. There's a dictionary here. The 'Black Speech' is said to have been based on Turkish, and is an agglomerative language, building up chains of suffixes.

    2. In Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings the tongue spoken by orcs is called Orkish (with a k) and it is indeed derived from the Black Speech created by Sauron. I'm speaking off the top of my head, but I cannot seem to remember that Tolkien used 'orcish' except as the adjectival form of 'orc'. Funnily enough, in the Letters he uses 'orc' and 'orcish' figuratively to describe human and political behaviour. No dount he'd be right about Coots, too.

      Funny that the RPG fans should do that. Tolkien intended orcs to speak Westron (in a particularly coarse and vulgar way, true) peppered with isolated Orkish words, not full-on Orkish with one another and with other races, because the wild differences among Orkish dialects made orc tribes mutually uninitelligible.

      As long as Quenya is left out of expansionist and modernising attempts, I'm fine.

    3. I cannot leave well alone: Mordor Orcs did speak the Black Speech as their native tongue (not Orkish, which was of itself a composite language built from many different tongues). The rest of breeds didn't.

    4. I'm not surprised that the RPG fans adopted the Black Speech, whether or not correct for orcs. It was the famous rhyme inscribed in the ring, which for readers who are not up to speed here I will quote:

      Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
      Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

      In English:
      One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
      One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

      This is a wonderfully clear guide to the grammar of the Black Speech, reinforced by the repetitions. The RPG-ers happily seized this, and if you follow the phrasebook link on the dictionary web page, you will find at the bottom of the page a respectable brief guide to the structure of the language, which I think Tolkien would have been happy with. It's far more regular than any real language, and with a bit more vocabulary would make a fine substitute for Esperanto.

  2. Brilliant pictures again Ralph and also to tom.
    When I met him at Rainham a month ago, his photography did astound me!
    Anything wrong with that Blue Tit though; looks a bit scruffy?

    1. Nesting is bad for feathers, especially if you have to keep scrambling in and out of an iron lamp post.