Thursday 10 November 2016

This is the second time I have photographed this young Lesser Black-Backed Gull with a freshly killed pigeon.

The first time I supposed that it finishing off was the leftovers of the original pigeon killer. But this is quite a complete pigeon with plenty of meat left. Also, the pigeon killer was in sight of it, perched on the Dell restaurant roof, and didn't seem inclined to protect a kill. It's now impossible to tell which gulls are actually killing pigeons and which are only scavenging them. The only notable point is that so far all the killing seems to be done by Lesser Black-Backs, although Herring Gulls are bigger and stronger.

This Herring Gull was behaving in a more traditional way. It had stolen a peanut from a Carrion Crow and was amusing itself by rolling it down the sloping concrete edge of the Serpentine.

When the game palled, it crunched the shell open with its powerful beak and ate the nuts.

A Shoveller came over to the shore at the Vista.

A skein of Canada Geese passed over 'Number One Hyde Park', the block of absurdly expensive flats designed by Sir Norman Foster.

The leaves are falling off the rowan trees on Buck Hill, revealing such a profusion of berries that this Mistle Thrush seemed quite confused about where to go first.

A practical Rose-Ringed Parakeet had no such doubts, and was chewing her way through a bunch in the slow and messy way that parakeets have.

Considering that they are supposed to be fruit-eating birds, they don't seem to be very good at it.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees on the south shore of the Serpentine.

A lot of Blue Tits were following them.

The male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was in his hole again, a bit more visible today because the light was better.

The Robin who owns the olive tree next to the Lido restaurant was making sure that everyone knew who the boss was.

Another Robin was bathing with great enthusiasm in a puddle on the little muddy path that leads from the Albert Memorial to the Serpentine Gallery.

It became completely bedraggled. But this is how Robins get clean.

Update: David Element has supplied a fine video of a Robin preening and getting its feathers back in order after a bath.

There was an enormous patch of fungus beside the path, at least a foot high and 18 inches wide.

I think it's just common Honey Fungus that has got a bit old and dark, but it was a notable sight.


  1. That Robin picture is simply fabulous.
    If you published one of those robin pictures for a Christmas Card i would definitely buy it!

    1. You can download and print any of my pictures. I suggest the legend 'Wishing you a soggy Christmas and a saturated New Year.'

    2. Ok, it's official, the Bedraggled Robin is going to be our Christmas Card for this year. Robins do everything with such vim and gusto.

      Gulls are a lot like some high schoolers. If any enthusiasm in what they are learning is shown, you bet that it is going to be put to nefarious purposes.

    3. Of course, if you're a Lesser Black-Backed Gull, killing pigeons is not just ethical but honourable and glorious.

  2. It is Honey Fungus. There are many patches all over the park, usually over buried tree stumps.

    1. Thanks. There must have been the remains of a tree stump under this huge patch. There was another patch, mostly decayed, a few feet away.

    2. That's a fascinating observation of another pigeon killer. The original found his meal today at the Round Pond mid-afternoon and this time there was no leaving the kill. It fed ferociously from the beginning while the pigeon was still alive (just)and his partner couldn't get anywhere near it.

      A pattern seems to be developing. On Sunday you saw it failing to get a meal at the Dell and later it appeared at the Round Pond around three to try its luck there. It didn't succeed but the pigeons were running around after Sunday feeders and were on high alert. In contrast the two times I've seen it succeed there the pigeons were in a group having an afternoon snooze.

    3. The original pigeon killer has clearly worked out that the pigeons are more naive and easier to catch in places off his usual beat. Even when he was a relative novice he often hunted at the other end of the Serpentine near the bridge.

  3. It's scary. That Gull has developed tactical and strategical awareness.
    [I deleted the previous comment because the Pigeon, like the sparrows in Agamemnon's parodos, came flying where they shouldn't).

    1. I'm sure that gulls plan. They often look as if they are thinking.

      Pigeons will get in anywhere if you drop your guard for a moment.