Saturday, 7 November 2015

It was the day for the five-yearly count of all the birds in the park, started in 1925 by Max Nicholson, the ornithologist and environmentalist who founded the World Wildlife Fund. I was one of the party counting in Kensington Gardens. It was a miserable wet day, and the little songbirds were mostly sheltering in the bushes. At least the male Little Owl was in his usual place, rain-spattered but staring curiously at the unaccustomed people under his tree.

Later, when it started really pelting, he went inside and wasn't seen again.

We found little else of interest. There were only two Blackbirds and no other thrushes at all. When we had finished the three-hour count and given in our papers (we were issued with waterproof paper, a good idea) I went off by myself and within minutes saw two Song Thrushes, a dozen Long-Tailed Tits and -- indistinctly in the rain -- the Kingfisher on the other side of the lake. Typical of existence. Sorry about the low quality of this picture: it was very dark.

In almost the same place, a huge carp jumped out of the water under an impassive Grey Heron, who was looking for something a bit smaller.

Herons were also in evidence next to the Serpentine island, where a scene of routine bird feeding was interrupted by the arrival of four of them.

Unusually, they stayed together and didn't try to chase the others away, as usually happens in this park. They had probably come in from Regent's Park, where the large number of herons compels them to be gregarious.

A Great Black-Backed Gull was yawning on on one of the posts near the island.

Not all the Great Crested Grebes have left the Serpentine. Apart from the ones that have come in from the Long Water, there was this one near the Dell restaurant. I think it's the single surviving young one  from the island, now with only the faintest trace of juvenile stripes.

On the other side of the restaurant the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was waiting for an incautious bird to come within grabbing distance. Most of the pigeons clearly know what awaits them if they get too close.

The young Mute Swan who is being courted by the Black Swan was with her sibling, and the Black Swan was a couple of hundred yards away, preening himself.

In the Italian Garden, a Mallard was taking a duckboard literally.

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