Monday 23 January 2017

The ice on the Serpentine had thickened, and a Mute Swan was just able to walk on it, slipping a good deal ...

... until he came to a thin patch and fell through.

Then he had to climb up on the ice again.

A Shoveller was also struggling to get on to the ice...

... and so was a Coot.

Later the ice melted a bit, leaving clear water under the dead willow tree where the Kingfisher has been perching. But now there were two Cormorants on the lower branches.

The Kingfisher moved to the other side of the Italian Garden, where it could be seen quite close from the path.

Not all the Great Crested Grebes have left. There was one fishing in the patch of open water next to the island.

A pair of Rose-Ringed Parakeets were on the horse ride beside the Serpentine, eating ice. Perhaps it was a new experience for them.

The wagtails are having a hard time finding bugs in the cold weather. The young Grey Wagtail -- which seems to be the only one in the park now -- was going all round the lake, and we saw it in three places. Here it is running along the edge of the Serpentine.

It came on to the balcony of the Dell restaurant and ran around under the benches, although some people were sitting there. Normally it is a very shy bird, so it must have been hungry.

There was also a female Pied Wagtail on the restaurant terrace.

The female Little Owl was in her usual hole in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial.

Late there was a spell of hazy sunlight, and the female Little Owl in the lime tree made the most of it.


  1. We saw possibly the same Mute Swan having some difficulty breaking through the ice across from the moored pedalloes. He seemed to be trying to climb out onto ice too thick to support him, but not so thin he could just barge through. He got there in the end – evading the fate of Mallarmé's swan, in his famous (rhymed, metrical) sonnet:

    Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd'hui
    Va-t-il nous déchirer avec un coup d'aile ivre
    Ce lac dur oublié que hante sous le givre
    Le transparent glacier des vols qui n'ont pas fui !

    Un cygne d'autrefois se souvient que c'est lui
    Magnifique mais qui sans espoir se délivre
    Pour n'avoir pas chanté la région où vivre
    Quand du stérile hiver a resplendi l'ennui.

    Tout son col secouera cette blanche agonie
    Par l'espace infligée à l'oiseau qui le nie,
    Mais non l'horreur du sol où le plumage est pris.

    Fantôme qu'à ce lieu son pur éclat assigne,
    Il s'immobilise au songe froid de mépris
    Que vêt parmi l'exil inutile le Cygne.


    1. Well, he should have broken the ice for it. Birds should keep away from poets, especially Ted Hughes.

  2. I would exempt the naturalist-poet Colin Simms, who has written widely on birds:

    There are readable PDFs of extracts from both the books at those sites.

    (I am NOT an employee of the publisher!)