Sunday, 5 February 2023


Birds are pairing up. A couple of Carrion Crows perched companionably on an oak ...

... and Rose-Ringed Parakeets tried out a nest hole in the plane avenue near the Physical Energy statue. This is a natural hole, but they have an unfortunate habit of stealing the holes made with great effort by woodpeckers.

A different Coal Tit: this is one from the east side of the Albert Memorial, a very confident bird which came to take food from my hand the moment I first saw it.

A pair of Grey Herons were trying out a nest in a different place at the west end of the island. There are plenty of half-finished nests for them to use, but we know all too well that they may take months to settle for one and start breeding.

Another heron was sunbathing on a post.

A Herring Gull, a Black-Headed Gull and a Common Gull lined up on the buoys on the Lido.

Herring Gulls have difficulty staying on the revolving buoys and Common Gulls sometimes get tipped off too, but Moorhens balance on them for fun.

The Great Crested Grebes who were trying to nest on the island have lost the site to Coots. They went under the bridge to look for a new place in the collapsed willow. There have been successful nests here, but it's too early in the year for grebes as there are not enough small fish, and I hope they abandon the idea till summer.

The Little Grebe was diving under the fountain in the Italian Garden.

Ahmet Amerikali photographed a Cormorant that was still able to find a good-sized perch under the parapet of the garden.

There were another five at Peter Pan, including this one in full breeding plumage with an unusually white head.

An aggressive male Mute Swan on the Serpentine chased a harmless female on to the shore.

The fenced-off area of the Parade Ground which is being returfed is a peaceful feeding ground for Egyptian Geese, Carrion Crows and Pied Wagtails. Less so for a Redwing, which  pulled up a worm and was promptly chased by Starlings trying to steal it.  The Redwing got away.

Two more pictures by Ahmet from the Russia Dock Woodland: a dramatic shot of a Kingfisher ...

... and House Sparrows bathing in a puddle. There is still no sign of sparrows returning to central London, though they are maintained in a few places by feeding.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

A quiet Robin

A Robin sang gently to itself near the Albert Memorial. The technical term is 'subsong'.

A Starling ate an apple that was spiked on a railing for the Rose-Ringed Parakeets. I'd much rather the Starling had it than the pestilential parakeets, but someone scared it away.

Redwings hopped around the Parade Ground ...

... but it was a Blackbird that got the first worm.

Mark Meilack sent me this striking picture of a Treecreeper some time ago, but I carelessly forgot about it and put it in the wrong folder, and only found it yesterday. There are plenty of Treecreepers in the park but they are such quiet and unobtrusive little birds that you tend to overlook them.

It wouldn't be a proper day without a visit from one of the Coal Tits in the Flower Walk.

The Diana fountain has had another Unpredicted Issue: the pump has broken down again. But there is still water in the pools, and a pair of Magpies took the opportunity for a bathe.

The possessive Black-Headed Gull on the landing stage was trying to evict a Canada Goose.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden was having a bad day. There were no other birds in the pool, as the friendly Gadwalls had gone into the next one.

The grebe never changes pools, although it easily could -- it only needs a short takeoff run of about a yard. It lurked in the irises.

Then a Cormorant arrived ...

... and swam right past it.

That is not a suitable diving companion: it would certainly try to eat the smaller bird, though I think the grebe is fast enough to get away. It hurried over to a planter and hid behind the netting.

The Cormorant found no fish and left. A pair of Mallards flew in and order was restored.

Mute Swans courted and mated on the Serpentine. The initial display is a long process taking ten minutes or so, so I've only shown the later stages.

Some odd ginger blossom has come out in the Rose Garden. I'm told it's a Witch Hazel.

Friday, 3 February 2023

Signs of spring

There were a few signs of approaching spring. Some yellow crocuses have come out beside the Long Water.

Robins were starting to pair up. Two were flirting tentatively under a bench in the Flower Walk.

Another pair were taking notice of each other beside the leaf yard, though I couldn't get them both into the same picture.

A pair of Coal Tits darted through the corkscrew hazel bush ...

... and a Wren hopped around on the path below.

A Long-Tailed Tit alighted on a twig in the Rose Garden.

A Carrion Crow ripped up a crisp packet to extract the last crumbs.

Redwings hauled up worms on the Parade Ground.

A Starling shone in the sunlight.

So did a Cormorant on a post at Peter Pan.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes at the island displayed and performed their dance with weed.

There was one other grebe by itself resting on the Serpentine.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden preened and stretched, then came out to join the Tufted Ducks and Mallards.

Thursday, 2 February 2023

The Parade Ground and the Paperbush

A large flock of Starlings worked across the scrubby grass and bare earth of the Parade Ground. It's hard to see what they were finding, but often you see them pulling up wireworms, which are the small stick-like larvae of click beetles.

A Blackbird found a substantial earthworm.

The Redwings were in the trees when I was there, too distant for a good picture but this one is quite interesting, showing that there is more red on their wings than can be seen when they are on the ground.

There were also a few Pied Wagtails, which are permanent residents of this area when not driven off by funfairs and concerts.

The Paperbush in the Flower Walk is a popular spot with the small birds, which find its open structure a convenient place to perch. Today there were two Coal Tits ...

... three Blue Tits ...

... a crowd of Great Tits ...

... a male Chaffinch ...

... and his mate.

The Gadwalls had left the Italian Garden again, and Mallard drakes were rushing around from pool to pool chasing a couple of females. The Little Grebe took cover in the irises ...

... but when things calmed down it came out and started diving by itself.

There was still one Cormorant fishing under the Italian Garden, and it managed to catch a smallish fish.

Some unfamiliar green shoots were coming up in the southeast fountain pool. I didn't know what they were. PlantNet said it was Brooklime, Veronica beccabunga, but Conehead 54 tells me that it's the young shoots of Great Willowherb growing up from the base of a tall patch of the plant, which started growing in the fountain a couple of years ago, probably from seeds brought in on the feet of birds.

Ian Young photographed this Ross's Goose in St James's Park. Unlike the captive birds in the collection it can fly, and is probably the one we saw on the Serpentine a few days ago.

Wild birds often join their captive fellows, and at present there is a Shelduck in St James's along with the ones in the collection. The same thing happened in Regent's Park several years ago.

To follow the picture of White Storks at Alcalá de Henares, here is a picture sent by Tina Coulcher of them migrating through Banyuls, which is on the Mediterranean coast of France just north of the Spanish border.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Peregrines back on the tower

The daily trip up the Flower Walk produces more and more hungry birds, and it can take half an hour to cover 200 yards. Here are a Coal Tit ...

... and a Blue Tit in an evergreen bush.

Long-Tailed Tits never take any notice of people. They just get on with their eternal hunt for insects.

A Pied Wagtail on the Parade Ground was similarly engaged.

I got a hasty snap of it with a small larva.

A Redwing pulled up a worm. It's quite a struggle for a small bird.

The Peregrine pair perched on the tower, as usual an unsociable distance apart ...

... but they still called to each other, just audible above the noise of children playing football 300ft below.

Black-Headed Gulls in the Italian Garden were hauling up what I think were 'rat-tailed maggots', hoverfly larvae with long siphons, but it's hard to tell when they're covered with algae.

The Little Grebe was with its friends the Gadwalls ...

... and also fishing by itself under the fountain.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes at the island were displaying in front of a soggy mess that only a grebe would consider a nest.

They spent more time displaying than building. I'm not sure they're serious about nesting.

The dominant Mute Swans had cleared out the intruders from the Long Water and were at the Vista touting for food. The male shooed a Canada Goose.