Monday 21 November 2016

On a day of thick cloud and rain, it was hard to see birds, let alone photograph them. While I was sheltering from a particularly heavy downpour I watched the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull, who had caught another victim.

I was wrong to think that he had been injured. It was just pigeon's blood on his face. When he left his meal for a moment for a dip in the lake he returned perfectly clean. While he was away, two Moorhens arrived for a quick bite.

Although the gull instantly chased away any other gulls from his kill -- even his mate had to wait on the sidelines for her turn -- he was strangely tolerant of the Moorhens.

All the while, the surviving pigeons continued to feed indifferently close by. If they felt any emotion, it was probably pleasure that they hadn't become a gull's lunch.

The boats at Bluebird Boats have now all been moored close to the platform, and the staff no longer seemed inclined to shoo the gulls away. Gulls of all four species were making themselves comfortable on these convenient perches.

The dominant Mute Swan family from the Long Water had come out on to the Serpentine and were near the small boathouses. One of the young swans was being extremely aggressive to the local adults, chasing them away from the family. They have had life very easy on their private lake, and will find it a shock when they get thrown out and have to fit into normal swan society.

More Gadwalls have arrived, and some were in the fountains of the Italian Gardens, not a place they usually go. But it's popular with Mallards and Tufted Ducks, and it seems that the disturbance to the water brings up small edible creatures.

Near the Albert Memorial, a group of Jackdaws were busily throwing fallen leaves around to see if there was anything underneath.

In other parts of the park Carrion Crows, Jays and Magpies were doing the same. For many birds, fallen leaves are a precious resource, harbouring all kinds of food.

I already mentioned the catastrophic effect that over-tidying of leaves has had on the park's Blackbird population. But it has had an even worse one on Song Thrushes, which additionally are in decline all over the country. This is only the second one I have seen in the rowan trees this autumn.

There was also a Rose-Ringed Parakeet in the trees. Their population, of course, is going the opposite way at a great rate.

The rain didn't deter flocks of Long-Tailed Tits from ranging around, in spite of the fact that if you are that size, a raindrop must feel like a bucket of water thrown over a human.

An even smaller Goldcrest, safely sheltered on the corner of the leaf yard, was singing at a most unseasonable time.

One of the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial was looking out of the hole at the soggy scene.


  1. Brave little Goldcrest! Singing its tiny heart out in such rainy miserable weather.

    That Pigeon-Eating Gull will star one of these days in The Walking Dead. Mark my words.Now seriously, it is strange that it should tolerate interspecies competition (if Moorhens can be construed as such) so well.

    1. Perhaps the gull was so busy keeping three other gulls away that it had no time to worry about the minor depredations of Moorhens.

    2. That's right. The pigeon-eating gull would be great as a supporting actor alongside a Giant Petrel, like this one, in the leading role.
      Perhaps Ralph and Johanna will make 'Gulls' with the pigeon-eating gull as a principal performer.

    3. Great idea! It would be great to see a film on the Gulls at Kensington Gardens, zombified or not.

      Exhibit b that Gulls would make perfect supporting actors in a zombie movie:

      They have the chasing down crying 'braiiiiiiiins' part down pat.

    4. BTW, that's a scary looking petrel. European petrels look so much gentler!

    5. I'd like to make 'Gulls', but catching the dread bird on a successful raid is hard. I've managed it twice with an always-on stills camera permanently hung on my shoulder, and published the pictures twice; also two sequences of near misses. But carrying the video camera as well as my normal camera is an overload and can only be done done occasionally. Also, it takes vital seconds to switch on from autonmatic standby, so you are likely to miss the action. My blog depends on still pictures, and grabbing my usual camera is an instinct. Video is an occasional extra, usually when I have a subject chosen in advance, such as parakeets.