Sunday 29 January 2017

The ice on the Serpentine is almost gone, and it's back to shovelling as usual.

Much of the ice on the Long Water has melted too, and a pair of Great Crested Grebes have returned.

There is now a pond on the Parade Ground, in the place at the top of the hill which constantly turns into a swamp or floods. The people relaying the turf really need to dump some earth here to raise the level, but each year passes with nothing done about it. Anyway, a pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls were enjoying the water.

Lower down the hill on a patch of surviving grass, a Pied Wagtail stood on a stick to get a better view of the surroundings. They hunt insects by eye, and their vision seems to be remarkably sharp.

Another had somehow pulled up a full-sized earthworm and was swallowing it.

There were at least twenty Redwings near the bandstand, foraging on the bare earth and patches of grass and flying up into the trees. You could hear their gentle chattering from some distance away.

A Magpie was eating what seemed to be couscous on the edge of the Serpentine. People do have very strange ideas about bird food.

A male Mute Swan was chasing a female, pecking at her violently.

At first I thought he might be trying to mate, but no: he just grabbed her neck and held her head under water.

More swans gathered round, apparently approvingly, because they all displayed to each other afterwards while the female slunk away. It looked like a punishment beating for some imagined offence.

A Coot found a plastic bag on the Serpentine and investigated it to see if there was anything edible inside. A Black-Headed Gull, seeing this, came over to see if there was something it could steal from the Coot.

A Cormorant was fishing in one of the Italian Garden ponds, probably the last well stocked water in the park as they have pretty much exhausted the lake, and the Round Pond doesn't seem to have much either. It caught three perch in two minutes.

The female Little owl near the Albert Memorial was sheltering from the drizzle at the back of her hole.

The one in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was crouching down on the edge of her hole, and could only be seen from a distance.


  1. I don't think I'm going to be able to look at a Wagtail the same again. What a prodigious worm it is eating.

    Are there police Swans, I wonder? What might have the poor female Swan done? It looked like serious punishment.

    I don't know who would come out on top in a small Gull vs. Coot war. All bets are off. What Coots lack in intelligence they more than amply make up for it with insane, dogged persistence.

    1. What baffles me is how the tiny Pied Wagtail managed to pull the worm out of the ground. It's a visible effort for a Blackbird to do it.

  2. Perhaps their tiny muscles are like ours? Capable of an enormous max effort when desperation is sufficiently dire.

    1. Wish I'd appeared on the scene in time to see the extraction.