Friday 22 March 2013

On a chilly day with a biting northeast wind I seemed to be the only person looking for owls, and didn't find any.

But cold or not, the year advances. A Dunnock near the entrance to the Lido was singing from a safe place inside an evergreen bush. I got a brief glimpse of him when he came down to the ground.

Few other birds are singing: the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes have shut up till it gets warmer, and even the Great Tits and Robins are a bit subdued. But over the past few days a Jay has been singing in the leaf yard -- if you can call it singing, an odd mixture of clucks and moans and squawks.

The familiar Black-Headed Gull with ring number EY09813 was looking smart in breeding plumage, and will soon be away with the others. This bird was ringed as an adult only last year, on 18 January in Kensington Gardens, and no one knows where its summer residence is.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused for a moment in a bush near the Serpentine Bridge.

I have not yet seen any of them on the ground, which would be a sign that they have started building their nests. They pick up small feathers to make the lining. The main body of the large spherical nest is made of  spider webs and moss, and sometimes the birds fly into the pedestrian tunnels under the Serpentine bridge to gather cobwebs from the ceiling. In previous years I have tried to photograph this, but the shadowed light and the swiftness of the birds have so far defeated me.

I think that this Pied Wagtail in the Diana enclosure had just eaten a spider, to judge by the silk thread hanging out of its beak.

I have read that the principal food of Swifts is spiders rather than insects. The spiders travel on the wind, parachuting on their own threads, and can reach considerable altitudes. Unlike insects, they can't dodge an oncoming bird, which makes them easier to catch.

One of the pair of Grey Wagtails that nest under the little plank bridge in the Dell has been seen. The gardeners are still in the Dell razing practically everything to the ground, but they have moved away from the bridge. I am hoping that the lack of cover won't deter these lovely birds from nesting again.


  1. I don't know whether you are interested in joining us, but tomorrow (Saturday) we (the London Natural History Society) are going to have our yearly bird walk in Hyde Pk & Kensington Gdns. We will be led by Helen Baker, and we will meet in Marble Arch Stn, top of escalator, at 9.00 am. AM only. Hope you come, as your intimate knoledge of the area would be invaluable.

  2. Will be there, if I am not eaten by polar bears. Wear plenty of clothes, it's going to be pretty raw.