Sunday 6 December 2015

The Teal, not seen since 25 November, appeared on the Long Water in his usual place next to the Italian Garden. His appearance has changed a lot in the past few days, and the plumage on his head now looks almost completely adult.  However, the change is starting at the head and he still shows no sign of developing the pale yellow rear end of an adult drake.

Here is one of this year's Mallards, in much the same stage as the Teal was in when he arrived on 1 November. The green adult feathers are just beginning to show on his head. Also his bill is starting to turn yellow, but that is purely a Mallard change.

The Black Swan was moving up the side of the Serpentine to try his luck at being fed by people on the Lido restaurant terrace, with his girlfriend following 100 yards behind. He paused for a stretch before proceeding.

One of the things most often given to the birds on the Serpentine is yesterday's unleavened bread from the many Middle Eastern restaurants in the Edgware Road. It becomes hard and tough overnight, and they don't like it much. This Black-Headed Gull gave a piece a desultory peck and walked away.

But they love horrible pappy supermarket white bread. Here another gull leaps for a thrown fragment.

A Carrion Crow was chasing a Common Gull. The gull didn't have any food to steal, and the crow was just amusing itself.

Pied Wagtails have a much healthier diet of insects and worms that they catch themselves, and are not interested in human food (though a couple of years ago there was a very bold one in Queensway which would take little bits of cheese). This one is hunting on the slates of one of the small boathouses.

Great Crested Grebes will also eat insects if they can get them. This one was pulling apart some dead leaves at the edge of the Serpentine.

Another was doing that peculiar leaping shrug that grebes do to settle their wing feathers after preening.

In the rowan trees on Buck Hill, one of the resident pair of Magpies was keeping the Mistle Thrushes from visiting. These were rattling irritably from neighbouring trees.


  1. On the subject of feeding - as the Royal Parks website says swans "really love" lettuce I brought some along for them - but they were not at all interested in it at all. The coots ate it though.

    1. I'm sure lettuce is good for swans. But the swans, and indeed all the waterfowl, have been thoroughly spoilt by visitors feeding them bread and have very unhealthy tastes. I hadn't seen that information on the Royal Parks web site, but these things are written by people behind desks and should be viewed sceptically.

    2. Chimes in with my comment here. Is lettuce the equivalent of spinach for coots, those avian Popeyes who will attack much larger swimming dogs? Jim n.L.

    3. According to Beatrix Potter in Peter Rabbit it's soporific.