Monday 9 November 2015

The Great Black-Backed Gull was here again, this time on the Serpentine.

I have been trying to get a picture of a Lesser Black-Backed Gull next to it, but understandably they keep a respectful distance from this battleship of a bird.

The two young Mute Swans were enjoying a moment of peace together. The one in front is the Black Swan's girlfriend, recognisable at the moment by a white feather on her back. The other is probably her brother, as he already has a slightly larger knob on his bill.

No sooner had I taken this picture when the Black Swan came sailing down the lake and collected her, and her brother beat a prudent retreat. The pair went off together to bully some other swans that were being fed at the edge of the Serpentine.

One of the parent Great Crested Grebes from the nest on the fallen poplar was at the bridge, preening its immaculate white belly.

A few minutes of sunshine backlit a Cormorant drying its wings on a post.

A little flight of Greylag Geese swept down the Long Water, laboriously gaining altitude to fly over the bridge. Neither geese nor swans will fly under it, although there is plenty of room.

The male Little Owl was briefly out on his usual branch, but there was a gusty wind and he soon went back into the tree.

A Starling was sitting on a peculiar potted plant at the Lido restaurant, waiting for someone to leave an outside table so it could swoop in and grab the leftovers. The plant looks like a stumpy palm tree, but has these peculiar tendrils coming out of the top. I don't know what it is.

And I am also unable to find what this largish mushroom is. It was growing a few yards southwest of the Little Owls' trees, but there are others in the park. The picture can't show it from every angle, but it has an off-white cap flecked with pale brown and a slight umbo, or boss, in the centre. There is no trace of a ring. The stem bulges slightly at the base, and there is a very small remnant of the volva from which the mushroom emerged.

Update: Mario comments, 'It's again your old friend Stubble Rosegill, Volvariella gliocephala!' I really seem to have a blind spot about this species.


  1. It's again your old friend Stubble Rosegill, Volvariella Gloiocephala!

    1. Thank you. This species always seems to take me by surprise.

  2. Certainly the female Mute Swan is learning some very poor manners from her boyfriend. He's a bad influence on her. Now seriously - is this going to end up in tears? I hope not...

    Wonderful picture of the massive Great Black Back. Nobody messes with the like of it.

    1. Reportedly there have been a few instances in Britain and elsewhere of Black and Mute Swans hybridising to make a "blute swan", but I couldn't find any pictures online of one. Jim n.L.

    2. I wonder what a Black/Mute Swan hybrid looks like. By the rules of animal coloration, all black and all white are the final two stages of the breakdown of normal mottled, speckled or barred patterns -- like a female Mallard or a Greylag Goose. So probably a hybrid won't climb back up the process: it won't be grey, piebald or mottled.

    3. Silly me! Google "black mute swan hybrid", the first two results. The bills do look neither one thing nor the other. Jim