Thursday 8 October 2015

When you see a Black-Headed Gull with a plastic ring you always hope that it's from somewhere excitingly distant like Finland. But when I looked this one up on the web I found that it was from Reading, where the gull had been ringed by the Cotswold Water Park Ringing Group. It is a first-year bird, and won't have been any farther afield.

A gang of Cormorants was working its way through the rich fishing ground near the Italian Garden. The large number on the lake recently will have severely reduced the fish population. When it's no longer worth their effort most of them will go away until next year.

The Great Crested Grebe family from the fallen poplar tree were fishing near the bridge, with the young ones actively helping, or perhaps hindering, their parents. One stopped to have a preen, here seen from the bridge parapet.

One of the record number of Red Crested Pochards was also preening, with his fluffy red headgear looking very bright in the sunlight.

The sunshine had also brought people on to the terrace of the Lido restaurant, and some Starlings were waiting on the weathervane for someone to leave a table so that they could descend on the leftovers.

The family of Magpies near the Henry Moore sculpture were passing the time by squabbling about nothing in particular.

A Blackbird was eating rowan berries in one of the trees on Buck Hill.

The male Little Owl was perched on the edge of last year's nest hole, which the owls prefer to this year's one as a daytime shelter.

He was agitated by the sight of a Sparrowhawk passing high overhead, and flew up to his branch and back several times. When it had gone, he settled down on the branch and started preening, a soothing activity for a nervous bird.


  1. Hi Ralph, I saw what appeared to be a grey wagtail in Holland Park today. Have you ever seen one in Hyde Park or is it a rare sighting? I am not 100% sure what it was except that it was a wagtail with a yellow breast. There's also a magnificent tame golden pheasant in Kew (you may delete this post to keep the secret!)

    1. Yes, we have a family of Grey Wagtails -- they breed every year under the little bridge over the waterfall in the Dell. And indeed they are very yellow on the front, though Yellow Wagtails are even yellower, with a blond back. We get occasional ordinary Pheasants, escaped from some vile shooting scheme, so they are not reckoned to be wild birds.

  2. Back in the spring we saw a Grey (not Yellow) Wagtail in the undergrowth just to the north side of the water just east of the Italian Garden; about as far from the Dell as you can get without being in Penzance. so I suspect more than one family of Greys??

    Harry G

    1. I still think it's the same family. They seem to travel all round both lakes. But someone saw a Grey Wagtail in the Sunken Garden today as well, and that might very well be a different one.

  3. Thanks for the info. I saw the bird again today and I think it is definitely a grey wagtail, not a yellow one, though the yellow is highly visible. Re: the golden pheasant, I was told they are bred at Kew by the staff. They are tame and come out of the bushes to eat from your hand... absolutely beautiful! Laura