Wednesday 9 May 2012

At least 20 House Martins, the largest number so far seen this year. They were at the east end of the Serpentine, where they usually congregate when they are nesting at the French embassy, so with luck they should be able to re-establish themselves this year and begin to build up their numbers to former levels.

The Swifts are also back in large numbers, whirling and screaming all over the other parts of the lake. I couldn't see any Swallows in the throng.

There were many family groups of Long-Tailed Tits ranging around the bushes. The young birds perch on twigs waiting for their parents to bring them food. But while they are sitting still they attract the attntion of hungry Magpies, and two of the families were mobbing and scolding the predators. It seemed to work, as in both cases the Magpies flew away.

Coming back past Pater Pan, I was visited by a Carrion Crow demanding a biscuit. There is now a small family here and around the Italian Garden, several of whom will take food from your hand.

Crows are generally rather nervous birds, aware that human hands might grab them, and it has taken them some time to build up their confidence.


  1. Not a Hyde Park bird, but this morning I saw a Magpie in the garden flying to and fro inside a lime tree, dodging the branches. He went back and forth half a dozen times stopping on branches at the end of each flight but immediately continuing in rapid succession. I have seen one (the same?) in another tree earlier in the year doing circuits weaving through the branches. Is this an odd manic Magpie, or is it typical behaviour?

    1. Do you think it was trying to get at some small bird's nest to raid it? If so, you would probably heard the protests of the bird whose nest it was.

  2. Thanks also for you many posts which I have been enjoying enormously. As a non expert all the clues enrich the experience of walking in the park and trying to identify the different birds. Now you are setting me the puzzle of separating the swifts from the swallows from the house martins, which I have never mastered.

    1. Here's a quick guide to identifying Swifts, Swallows and House Martins.
      Swifts are bigger than the others and dark all over (actually dark brown, but it looks black against the sky), and they have distinctive crescent-shaped wings. They scream, while the other hirundines twitter.
      Swallows have pale sides -- at a quick glance, that's all you see, not the actual colours. They have longer tail streamers than the other birds, but it isn't always possible to see this.
      House Martins have a distinctive white rump -- that is, a patch on the upper side of their back in front of the tail. You can easily see this as the bird banks to make a sharp turn.