Wednesday 24 October 2012

A large flock of Carrion Crows suddenly erupted noisily from the shrubbery that encloses the Lookout teaching centre in the middle of Hyde Park. Normally there is not a very large number of these birds in the area, as they congregate and nest in the northwest corner of Kensington Gardens, I think to be close to the rich scavenging area of Queensway with its many snack bars. Perhaps an overturned dustbin or a dead animal, or some similar tasty snack, had attracted them to the Lookout, and then something had disturbed them.

On one of the parts of the Parade Ground where there is still some grass, a Pied Wagtail regarded me curiously from a safe distance before returning to the hunt for small insects on the ground.

Contractors are putting in more land drains here, which are clearly needed as the place threatens to become a marsh. The impervious London clay soil allows it to become completely waterlogged although the ground is on a gentle slope which, if the soil were more porous, would drain naturally. The whole park suffers from this problem and flooding is a regular occurrence. When it rains heavily, the little valley of the buried Tyburn Brook, halfway along the north shore of the Serpentine, turns into a small lake. (The Tyburn Brook is not the same as the river Tyburn, which crosses Oxford Street next to Bond Street Tube station.)

On the Serpentine, the father of the youngest of this year's Great Crested Grebe chicks was taking a moment off duty to have a good stretch. There is no need to search for this family: you can hear the youngster calling for food from 300 yards away.

And on the Long Water, a Cormorant enjoyed a tumultuous splash to wash the parasites out of its wings.

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