Saturday 30 June 2012

A band of 22 immature Herring Gulls were roving around the Serpentine, in addition to the usual dozen large gulls that are always on the lake, mostly Lesser Black-Backed. Perhaps the amount of food dropped by the crowds of weekend visitors attracts them -- gulls are quick to profit from human habits, and learn raiding techniques from each other.

In spite of this, the Coot family from the nest under the ledge of the Dell restaurant had ventured to the edge of the lake, where the parents were finding plenty of food for their young in the debris blown to that corner by the brisk breeze.

And there were no gulls on the Long Water at all, which was good news for this Mallard with a brand new brood of 10, who was making the dangerous crossing of the open water in front of the Peter Pan statue. There are only nine in this picture, as you can't organise ducklings for a photo-op, even by bribing them with biscuit crumbs.

There were 19 Mallard ducklings in all on the Long Water, a better total than in recent years though the losses are always high. Maybe this year a few will make it to maturity.

In the Dell, a Wren was making a tremendous racket. I went to see why, and it was holding a crane fly in its beak. There were no predators in sight, so perhaps it was just congratulating itself. It is difficult to believe that such a small bird can make such a loud noise, which could be heard 100 yards away through the chatter of the human visitors; and also remarkable that it can do it with an insect clamped in its beak.


  1. Mr Hancock I saw you again today by the Serpentine but you were taking a photo I didn't want to disturb you.

    Today I saw a lesser black-backed gull tried to seize a mallard duckling but fortunately it was guarded by its parent. The gull had no luck and then flew away.

    Not long ago I saw an adult lesser black-backed gull in the park but it has pale pink legs rather than yellow and its back wasn't truely black. Could that be a great black-backed gull instead?

    Thank you

    Peter Tang

    1. Glad to hear that the duckling got away. At present all the gulls seem to be staying on the Serpentine, and are only seen occasionally on the Long Water.

      Yes, I think it was a Great Black-Backed Gull. They are larger than the largest Lesser Black-Back, but you might not be able to tell the size if it was some distance away and not next to another gull. They do come to the lake occasionally, and I have a photograph of one from a few years back, which I will add to Sunday's blog post.