Friday 25 January 2013

The second-year Great Black-Backed Gull was on the Long Water, standing awkwardly on a post with one leg held up and the foot dangling. At first I thought it had injured its leg, but no, after a while it reversed its posture and stood on the other leg. It flew around the top end of the lake and pounced on some object in the water, which it didn't catch.

Farther down the lake, a young Lesser Black-Backed Gull had a catch, but it was only an old tennis ball. It played with this tatty object for some time, picking it up and dropping it and pouncing on it, before bearing it away. It don't think it believed that it was edible once it had picked it up -- just an interesting object.

There was a brief glimpse of a Yellow-Legged Gull on the Long Water. I looked carefully for the Water Rail that Des had seen earlier on the Serpentine island, but there was no sign of it. As well as being uncommon in central London, they are shy and surreptitious birds.

The hard frost forecast for last night was milder than expected, and the Serpentine didn't freeze, though the ice on the Long Water spread a little. This was good news for the Bearded Tits, as there was unfozen water under the reeds for them to drink. It is impossible to get a photograph of them down here without including a blurred image of the green iron railings.

Still no sight of the male Tawny Owl. He is more likely to be seen at dusk when he flies out to hunt. He is hunting for two now, as he has to feed his mate on her nest. When the owlets emerge he will be even busier, feeding a ravenous family. Fortunately there is no shortage of mice and small rats, not to mention the parakeets that occasionally appear on the menu.

Several large flocks of Long-Tailed Tits were ranging around the park, accompanied by other tits.

It is remarkable how they manage to catch enough insects to live on in midwinter. The tits seem to manage, as do the insect-eating Pied Wagtails that run all around the edge of the lake. But you do notice, if you feed the Great, Blue and Coal Tits, how much more eager than usual they are to come down for food.


  1. Clever shots of playing and diving gulls! Hope to see you tomorrow mg, dv

    1. I saw this gull seriously worrying the ball on Wednesday 23 January at the side of the Serpentine near the triangle car park. It was pecking purposefully at it as though it expected to find something inside. Could its activity two days down the line be the triumph of hope over experience?

    2. Thanks. I'm baffled by this behaviour. Have mentioned it in an update to my post for 27th, in case anyone has seen something similar.