Sunday 4 January 2015

The Great Black-Backed Gull was paying one of its periodic visits to the Long Water. Here it is playing with a twig while a Black-Headed Gull passes in front. The perspective reduces the apparent difference in size between the small gull and this huge creature.


It is always the same Great Black-Back, very conspicuous as it slowly changes into adult plumage. Where does it spend the rest of its time? We used to be visited by an adult as well, but this has stopped coming.

When a Black-Headed Gull is standing on a post and a Moorhen wants it, normally the Moorhen strolls up the chain and the gull flies away at once. This gull stood its ground, and it was the Moorhen that had to climb down.

On Thursday I showed a picture of a Cormorant in breeding plumage with a great quantity of white feathers on its head. This one, which was at the island, is also in breeding plumage -- note the white thigh patches -- but its a much more normal example.

There was a large flock of Greylag Geese grazing on Buck Hill.

The Greylag population goes up in winter, and there is not enough grass next to the lake for them all, especially now that the east end of Hyde Park has been ruined by the funfair. So they look for other feeding grounds. The grass on Buck Hill is particularly good, since a large area had to be replanted a few years ago after it was wrecked by another of the commercial intrusions that now foul our park.

This Greylag with very bright orange feet was using a different feeding strategy. A woman was walking beside the lake, throwing bread around vaguely every now and then. The goose was running after her, scattering Egyptian and Canada Geese, children and small dogs in its headlong rush to keep up with her. It took a moment to trot down to the water for a drink to wash the bread down, frightening off a couple of Black-Headed Gulls.

The ring on its left leg is an ordinary BTO one. I couldn't read the number, because it ran off again immediately.

This Pied Wagtail was on the roof of one of the small boathouses looking for insects between the slates, but flew away as I approached. To my surprise, it landed on the edge of the Serpentine where hundreds of funfair visitors were milling around, as if it could sense that none of them could see it. The little black dots it is looking at seem to be in the air rather than the water. Are they very hardy small flying insects feeding on the detritus at the water's edge?

The male Tawny Owl was in his accustomed place, looking magnificent but sleepy.

This is the Elephant Tree, a beech on Buck Hill, on the edge of the road a hundred yards from the allotment. For some time I have been looking for the light that brings out the elephants, and a grey soggy day seems to do it best.


  1. The cormorant is very fine. I usually see them perched in the middle of the Thames on a small island or post, so can't see close up how handsome they are.

    1. On the Serpentine you can sometimes get within a couple of feet of these normally shy birds.