Tuesday 20 September 2016

Just a quick trip round the lake today, and an uneventful one. The male Little Owl was in his usual tree.

A Great Crested Grebe on the Long Water was giving a feather to a chick to protect its inside from spiky fishbones.

The rampant growth of duckweed has now spread to the east end of the Serpentine, along with some bright green algae, and some Moorhen chicks were swimming around in it.

Three Mute Swans were displaying to each other. It is not uncommon for swans to form trios, though only two of them are actually mates and the third is a male that just hangs around.

The white Mallard lent a bit of brightness to a dark morning.

Then off to Rainham Marshes with Johanna, and Tom, who is a volunteer there, showed us the sights. Johanna is trying to get a similar marsh bird reserve set up in her native California, and wanted to see how Rainham is run. There is much to admire and copy.

The water level was low and many of the waders had been scared away by two passing Peregrines. But there were some Lapwings flying around ...

... and some Black-Tailed Godwits.

Several Little Grebes could be seen from one of the hides.

A skein of Greylags flew one way while the Eurostar went the other way.

A female Kestrel perched in a tree.

A Hobby had caught a dragonfly and was eating it in flight.

A Common Darter dragonfly had escaped the bird's notice and was eating its own prey, a fly.

And a Migrant Hawker was resting on a reed stem.

This startling pinkish-mauve creature is a female Meadow Grasshopper. Apparently this colour is not unusual.

A Marsh Frog could be seen under the boardwalk.

And two Common Lizards were nestled comfortably together.

And here is something really common, a female House Sparrow -- except that we don't have any in the park, or in a wide area of Central London, and to see one is an event.


  1. Thanks again for another entertaining post Ralph!
    I must say i wish i could take photos like that Hobby in flight!

    1. Thanks, but I had been hoping for a nearer and sharper picture. It was too far off in bad light. What you see here is a 1000 x 750 pixel crop out of a 7360 x 4912 original.

  2. I'm still harbouring hope that the sparrow situation is improving a little- seem to see , or rather hear more of them in recent years.

    1. Well, there was one seen at Kensington Palace last year, but just one, once. What is particularly galling is that no one knows why they left, so nothing can be done to rectify it.

  3. Lovely photos. The frog is one of Rainham's many Marsh Frogs.

  4. Thank you Ralph and Tom Bell, and John Ferguson too, for a wonderful tour around Rainham Marsh! Those are excellent photos, especially at such distance. There is much to be admired there in terms of wildlife, but also in the system of blinds and walkways.

  5. Very pretty House Sparrow! Fine plumage too, looks in good health.

    1. There was a whole bush full of them at the entrance to the visitors' centre. Looking for sandwich crumbs, I suppose.