Thursday 21 January 2016

The layer of water on top of the melting ice gave some sharp reflections of Black-Headed Gulls and a single Common Gull.

Although gulls and ducks are slipping and sliding on the ice, the sure-footed Moorhens have no difficulty in keeping their grip.

The sunlight haloed a Cormorant fishing near the Italian Garden.

One of the Little Grebes could just be glimpsed through the twigs of the dead willow tree.

This is their refuge in icy weather. Several years ago, on a particularly cold day, I saw five of them diving through the last clear patch of water under the tree, only a couple of feet square. But, since they were swimming around under the ice, they had no difficulty in catching enough fish.

Some Mute Swans had pushed down the fence at the end of one of the reed rafts at the east end of the Serpentine and climbed aboard. The Black Swan, seeing this, climbed up too and chased them off.

Then he started plucking reeds and grass as if nesting, pausing from time to time to call his girlfriend. His voice can be quite loud. But she was at the other end of the Serpentine and didn't hear him, so his exploit had no one to admire it (except me).

Farther up the Serpentine, a group of Greylag Geese were having a vigorous wash and flap.

The fence is finally coming down around the funfair, revealing acres of churned mud -- it looks like a scene from the First World War. I looked around to see if any birds had come to search for worms and insects, but there was still too much disturbance. Later there will be plenty of Pied Wagtails, probably some Redwings, and with luck a Wheatear. For now, all I could see was a flock of Long-Tailed Tits passing through the trees.

A Great Tit was looking very fine in the leaf yard. This is a female, as shown by the narrow black stripe down her front. Males have a broad stripe.

This is what happens when you put your bag down to feed the tits and don't keep an eye on it. The picture was taken by Tom Bell.


  1. What a lovely picture of the gulls standing on the ice and having their reflections looking back up at them although they do not seem to notice it. The Cormorant halo is also lovely - thank you Ralph for sharing these images with us.

    1. The lovely photo of the Little Grebe is full of quiet charm, notwithstanding the more glamorous attractions of the Black Swan!

    2. I'm very fond of these modest little brown birds.

    3. I find them so difficult to spot, it's such a treat when I get to see a little grebe for longer than a few seconds. Whenever I catch sight of one with the binoculars, they dive and then appear God knows where. Your little grebes are remarkably well behaved.

    4. Oh no, they aren't. It takes ages to get even an indifferent and obstructed shot like this one.

  2. Beautiful pictures again!
    On Regents Park Birds blog it says their was a Snipe seen in the reedbed near the Italian Gardens.
    Did you see know about it?

    1. Thanks. No, I didn't know about the Snipe. It's probably gone now. Have seen a Woodcock myself in Kensington Gardens, but never a Snipe. My great-grandfather, born in 1859, said that when he was a boy he met an old man who had shot snipe in the area that is now Paddington Station.

  3. nature's surrealism, those gulls; well caught