Wednesday 4 January 2017

Several Pied Wagtails were running around on the Parade Ground next to the funfair, which is being demolished at last. They completely ignored the banging and crashing and passing trucks, which will go on for weeks and then be succeeded by an immense returfing operation which costs half a million pounds every time.

A few yards away, three Carrion Crows were enjoying a silly game, rolling around on the ground and yelling. After a few minutes they picked themselves up and flew away amicably together.

There was a Wren on a bush in the Rose Garden ...

... and a Robin perched on a rose called Vanity.

A Coal Tit in the leaf yard was on a wild rose, a much thornier affair -- and, to my eye, much prettier when in flower than the giant overbred flowers loved by rose fanciers.

A Nuthatch was also there, waiting for the usual snack to be offered.

The male Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was out in the morning, but a sharp rain squall drove him into his hole as I approached, so I came back later to take this shot.

It's very difficult to get him without twigs in front unless he is in exactly his usual spot -- I've put a marker on the ground for an unobstructed view of this place. Otherwise you have to take your chances, as one glance from a pair of binoculars will send him scuttling into his hole. The camera lens is less disturbing because it doesn't look like a pair of eyes, and the glitter is masked by the lens hood.

The female owl near the Albert Memorial was yawning repeatedly. Many birds yawn, but I have no idea whether it's a sign of boredom or sleepiness, or something quite different.

This Black-Headed Gull beside the Serpentine is, as you can see, less than a year old. It has the British ring number EZ73301.

The old system of two letters beginning with E and five numbers is now full, and future rings will have to use a new one. I very much hope that they don't add an extra character. It's hard enough reading seven on a gull ring, as you have to walk three-quarters of the way round the bird without frightening it away, or often the whole way round because the first side of the ring you see is the one with the join.

A Shoveller looked at me suspiciously from the outflow of the Serpentine.

The Pochards on the lake are much less shy, and you can walk right up to them without alarming them.

Some Greylag Geese were drinking from a muddy puddle a few yards from the relatively clean water of the lake. Do they go here to drink because they won't be bothered by aggressive Canada Geese and Mute Swans? Or do they find that mud gives water a bit of  flavour?


  1. Poor gentle Greylags, to be trapped near gazillions of Canadas and Mute Swans bent on a bit of bullying.

    Are Robins vain? I don't think so. If anything, it may be said of them that they possess Beauty without Vanity (although they do have more Insolence than Strength, that much is true).

    That picture of the rolling Crows is wonderful. They are so clever! It reminds me of the Russian Crow which was filmed surfing in a snow-covered roof.

  2. You can't be said to be vain if your reaction to seeing your reflection is to attack it.

    I'm reading Bernd Heinrich's Mind of the Raven, an eye-opener about the intelligence of these amazing birds.

  3. That is a wonderful book. I ought to re-read it.

    Whenever one my dear traditionalist friends (stern catholics all) say that humans are the only species able to say "I", which fact sets them apart from the rest of animals, and that to accord rights to animals is to commit anthropomorphism and to incur in sentimentalism, I never fail to bring out corvids. A lowly magpie is able to recognize itself in a mirror. It has a theory of self. That shuts them up quick.

    Perhaps I am committing heresy, but I believe very firmly that, had not apes envolved into humans, corvids would have taken the place humans now have.

    1. One of the things that emerges from that book is that when a raven recognises its reflection, it doesn't think it's interesting.