Monday 7 October 2013

The migrant Mistle Thrushes have arrived at last, and can be seen in the rowan trees at the top of Buck Hill.

They are actually based on the other side of the road, and groups of them fly into the trees from time to time, eat a few berries and fly away again. There are still plenty of insects for them to eat, as well as other small invertebrates, so there is no need for them to use the tree for more than a light dessert course.

The Great Crested Grebes are responding to the threat of Black-Headed Gulls snatching the fish they are trying to catch for their chicks. One pair on the Long Water parked their three chicks under the willow, swimming to the other side of the bridge to take fish from the wire baskets of twigs and bringing their catch back under water.

The pair at the Serpentine island had an even better idea, bringing their chicks inside the half-timbered boathouse. There are plenty of fish here clustering in the shade, and the parents can catch them and give them to the young without going outside at all. Here one of the chicks races in under the door to be first to the food.

The female Little Owl appeared briefly, but wouldn't stay for a photograph and flew to the back of the chestnut tree. While we were trying to see where she had gone, a pair of Jackdaws flew over, heading towards Notting Hill. These birds are surprising rare in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, which is odd considering the large number of them in Richmond Park where they greatly outnumber Carrion Crows.

There are a lot of young 'big gulls' on the Serpentine: Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. They are very hard to tell apart at this age, but I think this picture of two of them fighting makes the difference clear. The young bird nearer the camera is a Herring Gull: note the whitish tips to the inner primaries. The other one is a Lesser Black-Back, with uniformly grey primaries.

I was sent the following picture by Sandy Sorkin, an American visitor to London, who took it in the Rose Garden in Hyde Park on 2 October. He asks what the bird is. Does anyone have any ideas about it?

Update: Instantly identified by Roger Stanley as a Wryneck. I have never seen one, let alone in the park.


  1. I think it is a Wryneck and I think your daily report on the birds of Hyde Park is great, a lesson to us all. Think local patch.

    1. Many thanks. Looking it up, I'm sure you're right about the identification.

    2. A great find. I have never seen one either.

  2. Replies
    1. Wish I'd seen it. Will look around Rose Garden tomorrow, of course, but it's almost certainly moved on by now.

  3. I think we'll all be up there looking at the rose garden! What a lucky find.