Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Rainy days like yesterday are often good for seeing birds. Windy days like today are usually not, so today's pictures are a pretty ordinary lot. But it is always good to see the gulls enjoying the wind. This is a Common Gull hovering motionless in the updraught from the Dell restaurant's peculiar concave roof.

Young Herring Gulls find the stones they like to play with by repeatedly diving into the lake and trying to grab one off the bottom. This is quite difficult, and requires persistence.

This young Herring Gull has found something in the lake to play with, I think a conker from the way it rolls. Toys that roll are much more fun, and you can see how the gull enjoys it.

Two Pied Wagtails hunted at the east end of the Serpentine.

The line of rafts here provides a sheltered spot of calm water, where the local Grey Heron was looking for fish trying to hide under the carpet of dead leaves.

A Coot saw a bag that had contained sliced bread, hurried over to see if there was any bread in it, found there was none, and looked disappointed.

Another was in the grip of a Coot's permanent obsession with nest building, and carried a twig to a secret place under the Bluebird Boats landing stage.

A family of Moorhens was climbing about in the willow tree next to the bridge. There were four, but only three would get into the picture.

On the other side of the Long Water a Jay waited to swoop down and snatch a peanut from my hand. The habit is spreading among the park's Jays, who enjoy this demonstration of precision flying as much as I do.

The usual customers came out at the leaf yard. This Robin is almost always waiting in the yew tree at the southwest corner.

Long-Tailed Tits flew through the bushes.

This elegant pale pigeon would probably be described as 'isabel', a colour name derived from the story that Queen Isabel I of Spain vowed not to change her underclothes until the siege of Granada had succeeded. It took nine months, at the end of which these garments had become a grubby beige. But the colour looks better on a pigeon.


  1. Really appreciate you sharing tales from your clearly rich catalogue. Nine months! Many were grateful when the siege did end, I don't doubt.

  2. That's quite an elegant pigeon! There is actually a horse's coat colour called isabelo in Spanish, described as pearly beige or yellowish white. Same reason!

    So many favourite pictures today, I don't know which one to pick: the welcome return of Coot madness, the precision-shooter Jay, or the funny, funny and intriguing play of the young Gulls.

    1. It seems that the colour relies on several genes regulating eumelanin, the black colour, and phaeomelanin, the reddish colour. When the first fails completely and the second fails partially, you get this beige colour. Total failure of both pigments gives you a pigeon with white feathers. Horses can be grey (white hair, black skin) or, much less commonly, white (white hair, pink skin) -- the genes for hair colour and skin colour are separate. Similarly, you can have a bird with white feathers and all other features normally coloured, not an albino.