Monday 16 January 2017

The Kingfisher perched in the middle of the dead willow tree next to the Italian Garden. It was a bit hard to find an unobstructed view through the branches, but that also meant that the bird felt protected and could be photographed without hiding behind the balustrade.

When I passed the tree a second time, it was still there.

The newly found Little Owl was also in a calm mood, and stayed in the oak tree near the Italian Garden for several hours. He allowed me to walk right round his tree to find a good angle for a picture.

The female owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was also visible.

And so was the one in the oak near the Albert Memorial.

One of the local Peregrines was in the usual place on the Metropole Hilton Hotel tower.

It's 300 ft high, so you'd need a lens the size of a town drain to get a good picture.

The bird feeder in the Rose Garden had been taken over by Rose-Ringed Parakeets. A Coal Tit waited for them to go away.

But a bold Blue Tit came down and fed, ignoring the big green bird on the other side.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits worked their way through the bushes beside the Henry Moore.

At the Lido restaurant, a Coot examined a crisp packet, as much interested in its shiny silver inside as by the prospect of some crisp crumbs remaining in it.

A Magpie was doing the same on Buck Hill.

The number of Cormorants on the lake is down to five. Two of them were perched on one of the reed rafts at the east end of the Serpentine, the one where the nesting Mute Swans broke down the fence.

Two swans flew from one end of the lake to the other, apparently in high spirits rather than because one was being aggressive.

The undersized Egyptian Goose was washing in its usual place near the Triangle car park. I've included a Coot in the picture to show how small it is. The poor little bird always seems to be alone, and ignored by the normal sized Egyptians.


  1. What a GREAT shot of the Kingfisher, Ralph...just BEAUTIFUL!!!

    1. It's rare for a Kingfisher to come so near. Hope it does it again on a sunny day so I can get a sharper image.

    2. Congratulations! Very fine picture of the Kingfisher! Patience and persistence win the day.

      Poor little Egyptian. At least it appears that it can manage to survive without the others.

  2. How wonderful it is to see a kingfisher in Central London. I suspect very few of the masses actually noticed it, same with the peregrine. I watched the Charing Cross pair a few years ago and was passed by hundreds of people who never even stopped to see why I was training binoculars at the hospital.

    1. There's a Kingfisher in St James's Park too. Ours are a pair, and a nesting bank is being built for them at the moment. Whether they will use it is another matter, of course.

  3. Here's some of Charles Olson's long poem 'The Kingfishers', possibly useful to nest-spotters:

    The legends are
    legends. Dead, hung up indoors, the kingfisher
    will not indicate a favoring wind,
    or avert the thunderbolt. Nor, by its nesting,
    still the waters, with the new year, for seven days.
    It is true, it does nest with the opening year, but not on the waters.
    It nests at the end of a tunnel bored by itself in a bank. There,
    six or eight white and translucent eggs are laid, on fishbones
    not on bare clay, on bones thrown up in pellets by the birds.

    On these rejectamenta
    (as they accumulate they form a cup-shaped structure) the young are born.
    And, as they are fed and grow, this nest of excrement and decayed fish becomes
    a dripping, fetid mass [...]

    1. Luckily you wouldn't see the alleged dripping f[o]etid mass, since it's at the back of a tunnel. Wonder about the veracity of this rather disgusting account. Most birds are rather tidy about disposing of the excrement of their young, which comes out tidily packaged in faecal sacs.

  4. The poet is (was) an American, which accounts for the post-Noah-Webster distortions of Proper Spelling. The poem deals with American-continent kingfishers, so it might be that the habits differ? (I would expect proper *English kingfishers to be a bit neater and tidier.)

    1. I should hope so. But unable to conceal my antagonism to 'poems' that are made by writing dullish prose and chopping it up with random line breaks.

  5. Too cheap a shot, that. it's writing 'by ear, not metronome', and is effects are local rather than global. Given that there are still quite vicious arguments about scansion in Pindar (floruit 450 BC), I think it's best not to get *too het up about metric, and just enjoy language.

    Here's another bit from Olson, of more classicist bent, and better suited to the screen than 'The Kingfishers':

    'The Ring Of'

    It was the west wind caught her up, as
    she rose
    from the genital
    wave, and bore her from the delicate
    foam, home
    to her isle

    and those lovers
    of the difficult, the hours
    of the golden day welcomed her, clad her, were
    as though they had made her, were wild
    to bring this new thing born
    of the ring of the sea pink
    & naked, this girl, brought her
    to the face of the gods, violets
    in her hair

    Beauty, and she
    said no to zeus & them all, all were not or
    was it she chose the ugliest
    to bed with, or was it straight
    and to expiate the nature of beauty, was it?

    knowing hours, anyway,
    she did not stay long, or the lame
    was only one part, & the handsome
    mars had her  And the child
    had that name, the arrow of
    as the flight of, the move of
    his mother who adorneth

    with myrtle the dolphin and words
    they rise, they do who
    are born of like


    1. I'm not forbidding you to like this stuff. But it does nothing for me.