Sunday 22 January 2017

After another cold night the spreading ice had penned some Cormorants into a patch of clear water under the edge of the Italian Garden, where they were fishing uncomfortably close to each other.

The Serpentine doesn't freeze completely between the island and the shore, as the ducks and geese moving around keep it clear. A lot of Tufted Ducks and a few Pochards had assembled here.

All the Great Crested Grebes sensibly flew out last night, and will now be on the Thames somewhere upstream of Chiswick waiting for the weather to moderate.

Herring Gulls were sliding on the ice as they bickered over a bit of food.

A Feral Pigeon was having a very cold bath in a small ice-free patch near the Dell restaurant. The bathing pigeons only stayed in the water for a few seconds.

The Moorhens in the Italian Garden didn't seem to mind getting soaked, and were climbing around and under one of the fountains.

These fountains are blocks of marble -- invisible under the algae -- and rest on circular cast iron bases. There is a low space inside where both Moorhens and Coots have tried to build nests, but they have failed, presumably because there is nothing inside to attach twigs to.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden was clearly very hungry, as the frozen ground didn't allow her to pick up worms. She flew into a tree in front of me and called to be fed, something this shy bird would never normally do.

A Jackdaw on Buck Hill also made his wishes clear.

One of the Coal Tits in the Rose Garden was waiting for a turn at the feeder.

Pied Wagtails were hunting for bugs on the Parade Ground, both on the bare earth left by the funfair and in the grass beside it.

A pair of Egyptian Geese landed on the Little Owls' tree near the leaf yard and started their usual noisy display.

There was no sign of the owls here. One was seen looking out of the hole a couple of days ago in the early morning.

There was no difficulty in seeing the female owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial.

But the female owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was half inside the nest hole, and could only be seen from a distance.

One of the fox family was asleep in the usual place on the east side of the Long Water, but woke up for long enough to allow a picture.


  1. Any idea what the foxes are finding to eat in winter? Also, if they start looking in poor health, it might be possible they have contracted canine distemper (conjunctivitis, losing weight, diarrhea). This is a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) isn't it? CDV has been reported in Germany, Italy, Spain. I only mention it because the foxes eyes look a little messy in the photo, but maybe it is just frost.

  2. They are eating the surviving rabbits, at least one swan (I saw the remains) and some geese and ducks, and probably mice of which there are an abundance in the park at all times. And they go into the adjacent streets at night and raid dustbins and rubbish bags.

    I looked at other pictures, and the eye seemed OK. I think it was just half-shut against the sunlight. I can't look and closer than you because this picture is a straight 1000 x 750 pixel cutout -- the fox was over 100 yards away.

    1. The fox seems to look a good weight with good fur condition. I'm not sure that such a varied park diet is great for the rest of the animals in the park, but thank you for posting about them. Interesting to see them there. However, if they start showing conjunctivitis, rhinitis, weight loss etc, park service may consider euthanizing them before they spread it to other foxes and the occasional unvaccinated dog.

    2. All London is now at maximum carrying capacity with foxes, to no small part as a result of cutbacks in rubbish collection services. Any attempt at a cull would simply bring in more foxes from outside. From a human point of view the situation is out of control. Looked at it another way, it's the natural order of things.

    3. Yeah, I noticed a lot of rats in the garbage collection areas when I was last in London, Sept 2016. There are no metal garbage cans with lids in the residential areas. The garbage just sits there all week, under the stairs, left open, and then on collection days, out on the street. Really weird. I was shocked. But, I wasn't surprised at all by the rats or the foxes. What would one expect, leaving the residential garbage out for both rats and foxes.

    4. I hope you won't be away on vacation, because certainly plan to be there in September 2017 with the whole family to say thank you and hello!

    5. I shall be there if I haven't fallen off the twig.

  3. Hi Ralph, we've never met, but I have followed your Blog for a long time now. We were in London for the weekend, and today (Sun 22 Jan), myself and my fiancee Dawn, took a walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

    It is definitely one of favourite Park walks and thank you for adding the Little Owl location at the Henry Moore Sculpture. It was spot on in the Lime tree and I just got a fleeting glimpse before he snuck back into the hole. I see you had better luck.

    I actually think our paths crossed as I photographed a gentleman carrying a camera and binoculars who had his hand outstretched with a Blue Tit on his finger tips and a Great Tit flying above. This was about 1:30pm.

    Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to speak, but my email address is on the Swindon Birds and Wildlife Blog which I run. I'm pretty sure it was yourself and I took a couple of images, which I'd love to include on my other Blog which is Swindonbirder where I added my images etc from the walk.

    Kind Regards Martin Adlam

    SBaW Blog is:


    1. Sorry to have missed you, but glad you found the owl. By all means put any pictures you like on the blog -- I'm just part of the scenery. By the way, the five Grey Herons were on the grass near the Henry Moore because someone feeds them there.

  4. Thank you Ralph, so it was you. The birds certainly knew who you were. I'm looking forward to my next trip to London and a visit to your lovely "patch". Interesting about the Herons, Dawn and I followed the chap who fed them all the way from the Rose Garden. He has a "skin" whistle to attract the birds and very efficient it was to. I'll add your photo very shortly. All the best and keep up the good work on the Blog, it really is the top birding Blog in London. Cheers Martin

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Will look at your blog again in an hour or so, just to see if it's me or one of the other park crazies.