Tuesday 8 October 2013

Although several people visited the Rose Garden, no one saw the Wryneck. No doubt it was long gone, hundreds of miles to the south on its way to Africa. So it was back to more ordinary, but still pleasing, birds.

There were at least 25 Cormorants on the lake, many of them sitting in a murky row on the posts offshore from Peter Pan. Others had formed a small fishing party near the Italian Garden. Here one arrives to join in the fun.

Fishing in groups is more efficient than doing it alone, as fish disturbed by one bird will frequently flee to come within reach of another. When there are enough Cormorants and they are on a spacious part of the lake, they often hunt in line abreast, giving the impression of a police search.

At the Serpentine island, one of the Great Crested Grebes was taking advantage of a brisk west wind to practise takeoffs with its newly regrown wing feathers.

Birds have to practise with new feathers, since they are longer and less frayed than the old ones and the bird's balance is different. A headwind allows a grebe to take off in a much shorter distance than its desperate 50-yard run in still air, and in a very strong wind I have seen a grebeleave the surface almost instantly.

A Coal Tit had returned to the leaf yard and was showing interest in being fed with its favourite food, pine nuts.

They are not as bold as Great or Blue Tits and have to know you before they will come down to your hand. This one didn't know me and I was making its acquaintance by putting nuts on the fence, of which it collected a large number and took them away to hid in the cracks in the bark of trees.

The male Little Owl was in his usual tree.

Earlier I had seen his mate hastily retreating into their nest hole at my approach.

On the Round Pond, a Common Gull had seized a piece of bread, and was being chased by a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

It refused to give in to the bullying of the larger bird, and flew away to eat in a sheltered spot.


  1. thanks for the pic of the coal tit ralph. i've missed them. they used to be a daily garden bird growing up in yorkshire but not so many in london it seems. quite stylish elegant birds i think. will have to try your pine nuts trick!
    Mark W2

    1. We had three that came to the hand last year, but it seems that the freezing spring did for them and now we have to attract a new generation. They are great fun to feed because they sort through the pine nuts methodically until they find one that appeals to them.