Thursday 5 February 2015

There was a pair of Great Black-Backed Gulls across the lake from Peter Pan. This is the first time that I've seen two adults in the park. They might be the parents of the second-year Great Black-Back that is a regular visitor to the Long Water.

A bunch of Common Gulls were chasing one that had taken a bit of Arab bread that was being dispensed on the edge of the Serpentine. A Black-Headed Gull joined in, without a hope of making the larger bird drop its food.

There were also two Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the trees north of the Orangery. I saw one of them and took a hasty and distant shot, then tried to creep up on it hidden by a dense evergreen oak. But at soon as I put my head round the edge it was away, and then there were two of them chasing each other through the trees.

There was a small flock of Goldfinches nearby.

I think the number of these is increasing. A few years ago you hardly ever saw one in the park, although they were a common sight in the streets, twittering on television aerials.

The Scaup was still on the Round Pond. It has been here for a month now.

The male Tawny Owl was in his usual place, windblown but fast asleep and taking no notice of visitors on the ground.

Again, there was a Pied Wagtail running along the south edge of the Serpentine ...

... and the young Grey Wagtail at the Lido.

Grey Wagtails are a bit larger than Pied, and have remarkably long tails. The two species are hard to tell apart as they fly undulatingly overhead, unless you can see a flash of yellow. They have similar two-note flight songs, but the Pied Wagtail calls 'zee-vit' and the Grey call is more like 'zee-zee'.


  1. Towards the end of last year I had the pleasure of seeing a grey wagtail scouring the north shore of the Serpentine from an easterly direction and a pied wagtail advancing towards it from the west. I hung around to see which would blink first. It was the grey, suddenly pulling into a wide loop over the water and settling back where the pied wagtail had come from. Then both of them continued, working the patch the other one had just done. I don’t know if they found anything.

    1. Yes, I've seen the two avoiding each other as well. Pied Wagtails are relatively bold, and the one I was watching today walked straight past a Black-Headed Gull on the edge of the water. You can see the size of their comfort zone from the relative quality of today's pictures, taken from as close as I could get to each, about 15 ft from the Pied Wagtail and about 30 ft from the Grey Wagtail.

  2. Some coverage of goldfinch increases across London here:

    See also 28/9/14 entry and comments on horse chestnut leaf miner moth as a possible factor. Some rebound from last decade's trichomonosis is to be expected, but can't nearly explain it. Jim n.L.

    1. Thanks for that. Gosh, five- and sixfold increases in Goldfinches in some places.