Wednesday 24 December 2014

A Pied Wagtail was hunting along the south shore of the Serpentine, advancing at a pace that made it easy to follow. It had a sequence of preferred places. From the east end of the lake it ran briskly along the shore. Then it skirted the reed bed before the Lido, went along the shore of the Lido, and flew on to the jetty to explore the crevices of the rubber mat for several minutes -- there have been several pictures of Pied Wagtails on this mat. Having exhausted this, it continued along the shore at the side of the Lido restaurant, undisturbed by people because it was too cold for them to sit outside. From here it flew into the enclosure of the Diana fountain and ran around on the well mown grass.

Finally it flew under the bridge and I lost sight of it. I expect it would have gone as far as the little lawn on the north side of the Italian Garden, where Pied Wagtails are often seen. In summer it would have included the fence posts around the reed beds, where a wagtail can watch for flying insects passing by and jump off and catch them, but obviously that wouldn't work in winter.

Wagtails like short grass on which it is easy to run. Thrushes, which are larger and hop rather than run, can cope with longer, but not very long, grass. This Song Thrush was looking for worms on Buck Hill, where the grass is mown once or twice a year to keep it a medium length.

The pair of Egyptian Geese that are based on the grass around the Henry Moore sculpture also have a preferred round, which includes the Little Owls' chestnut tree, the Italian Garden and, here, the fallen horse chestnut in the Long Water.

It's easy to tell these birds apart from the others because the female, on the left here, was a white head with no eye patch.

On 22 December Jim n.L. (which stands for 'north London') reported seeing a Shoveller sending off a Mallard by jerking its large bill upwards at it. I was photographing some Shovellers circling near the Italian Garden when a Coot swam through the midst of them, and a female Shoveller made exactly that gesture at it, which you can see in the middle of this picture. It did indeed send the Coot scuttling away.

One of the brood of seven young Mute Swans was having a particularly vigorous wash.

At one point it managed to turn itself completely upside down.

You can often see geese doing this, but it must be difficult for this much larger bird.

Two Common Gulls were balancing on the line of buoys around the Lido swimming area and preening their wings.

The male Tawny Owl was reliably in his usual place on the nest tree.


  1. The swan's ablutions were charming. Hope everyone has a good day today (reading the blog late thanks to being booted out of my office by my son!).

  2. Thank you for this wonderful blog & Merry Christmas!