Tuesday 18 October 2016

A Carrion Crow at the Dell restaurant was feeling bumptious. When the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull left its pigeon for a moment, the crow took it.

Then a young Herring Gull came down and seized the pigeon.

It won this confrontation, and started eating the pigeon.

When the Lesser Black-Back returned, he found he couldn't deal with the Herring Gull, which was larger than him, and had to go away and hunt for another.

Meanwhile the disappointed crow worked off its temper by harassing the young Grey Heron on the restaurant roof.

Yet another Lesser Black-Backed Gull is now trying to catch pigeons, on the Round Pond.

It has taken a while for this behaviour to spread. The skill also has to be learnt, and only the original gull is really successful at the moment.

It was a windy day, which encouraged the Mute Swans to make little flights across the Round Pond -- it's easier for them to take off into a head wind. Here one of them is coming down, starting to extend its feet to water-ski in.

The swan that was on the Lido restaurant terrace yesterday was back again. Virginia, who saw the swan yesterday, said that it had been chased off the lake by another swan. It was trying to get back into the water over the low fence, and risked hurting itself. She manged to lead it back through the gate to the Lido swimming area, and all was well until today the same thing happened again.

The swan was in a bad temper, and pecked crossly at some pigeons.

Two visitors managed to lure it back the the Lido with bribes of food.

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water, bringing the total up to about 20. This pair were revolving at the Vista.

A Great Crested Grebe, now fully in its black, white and grey winter plumage, was resting on the Serpentine.

A flight of Long-Tailed Tits went through the bushes behind Peter Pan.

The pair of Nuthatches in the leaf yard put on a good show when bribed with peanuts.

There was also a Treecreeper, which didn't appear when I was there, but Tom got a good picture of it.

However, it was too windy for the Little Owls to come out.


  1. I don't know whether to find all that inter-species squabbling over a pigeon corpse funny or appalling. I also wish Herring Gulls emphatically wouldn't learn the craft of pigeon killing.

    Is "a flight of long-tailed tits" how the collective noun is said? Like a murder of crows, a charm of goldfinches and a wisdom of owls?

    I'm reading back to see what the deal with the swan is...

    1. So far the actual killing of pigeons seems to be done entirely by Lesser Black-Backs, not Herring Gulls. I have no idea why, as Herring Gulls are bigger and stronger. (No doubt Greater Black-Backs kill pigeons routinely, but these are only occasional visitors here.

      No, a 'flight' of Long-Tailed Tits is not one of those wilfully obscure nouns of assembly. It was just the first word that came to hand.

      Actually today's blog has a brief version of the story of the swan. When I saw it yesterday I didn't know it had been chased into the restaurant, and thought it was just being ornery. Virginia was there later, and saw the swan fruitlessly trying to escape from the terrace into the water. The railings are about 20 inches high, too much for it to leap over.

    2. Reportedly it's a volery of Long-Tailed Tits, see here and here. Meaning "a flight or flock of birds" - Johnson, 1755 - so you did well anyway Ralph.

      Presumably Herring Gulls' earthworm-dancing ability on park lawns and playing fields means they are never so starved of protein as to be driven to try hunting down healthy adult town pigeons, which requires considerable time and patience as we see. Jim

    3. If it's a volery of tits, is it a tittery of voles?

      Sound point about the Herring Gulls. Lesser Black-Backs don't seem to do the worm dance, though I have seen a Common Gull doing it.

    4. Ralph I'm sure you saw this one coming. No, it's a volery of tits, a colony of voles, and a... - Jim.