Saturday 22 April 2017

A Magpie probed the bark of a chestnut tree for insects.

They are pairing up, and the female flutters her wings and calls to her mate to make him feed her, and thus show that he will be a reliable provider when she is on the nest.

Here a female chivvies her mate to bring a piece of wood to their nest.

Mistle Thrushes are nesting already. This one near the Dell paused in a tree for a moment before flying down to gather worms for the nestlings.

A Blackbird was already on the grass with a beakful of worms.

A Pied Wagtail at the Round Pond collected a good number of insects and flew away towards the Orangery. These birds like to nest in holes in old walls, and the rambling buildings of Kensington Palace provide plenty of sites.

A pair of Robins near the bridge came down again and again to collect pine nuts. They must have a nest nearby with hungry chicks to feed.

There are a lot of Dunnocks near Kensington Palace, mostly in the large hornbeam hedge between the palace and the Sunken Garden. But there is an exhibition nearby and a lot of people, and this bird had moved to the avenue of trained holly trees leading to the Orangery.

A Gadwall near the island was also catching insects.

The Mute Swan nesting in the reed bed near the Diana fountain stood up to turn over her five eggs.

The Egyptian Goose family at the Lido had moved on to the jetty to escape the crowds, but it was time to eat some grass so they came ashore.

The parents of the goslings on the Round Pond had left them on their own and were having a wash.

Sadly, two of the young ones have 'angel wing'. Virginia said that this pair have had affected offspring before. It is not clear to what extent the condition is hereditary, or how much it is caused by giving the young birds white bread while their wings are growing. Both may be a factor.

A Feral Pigeon enjoyed a shower in the marble fountain in the Italian Garden.

The bowl of the fountain is made in the form of a scallop shell, which explains the odd serrations at the front of the picture. It is also thickly encrusted with algae.

The south bank of the Serpentine was thronged with Carrion Crows squabbling and looning around.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard came out of his hole several times in spite of the Saturday crowds.


  1. Magpies are as pretty as they are intelligent. Too bad that they are also evil (this is not meant to bring them down: they are actually my favourite bird).

    Does greater intelligence mean greater malevolence, I wonder (for lack of a better word). I'm thinking of corvids and gulls vs, say, swans and coots.

    1. Birds don't do morality. They just do what a bird's gotta do. You can't describe a Magpie as evil. Evil is reserved for humans.

    2. I don't know... I once had an encounter with a magpie that left me almost shaking. I was walking through campus heading for the college main entrance and heard the most bone-chilling cries coming from a parking lot nearby. A magpie was trying to kill a sparrow and the sparrow was screaming desperately. I intervened (I know I should have let nature take its course, but still) and I thought the sparrow had fled off safely. But the Magpie didn't move. It just looked at me - looked me in the eye, with a very peculiar expression. Then it flew off.

      A couple of hours later I went back and the magpie was in the same spot. Only this time there was a sparrow's severed head at its feet. She looked at me for what appeared to me to be far too long for a bird and then took off, leaving the head there. Perhaps it was coincidence, but it left me, as I said, shaking.

      I don't know. Corvids are very similar to humans in brain function, from what I gather. We really don't know what they are thinking.

    3. I'm sure they get annoyed with people who disturb them, and remember their grudge for a long time.

  2. Is there any chance the crows on the south bank of the Serpentine are from the NW Kensington Gardens colony? The numbers there seem to drop markedly from time to time.
    What a remarkable picture a couple of days ago of the pied and grey wagtails side by side. I've only ever seen them keeping their distance.

    1. Yes, I'm sure they are. They started coming to the east end of the Serpentine during the funfair. I don't know what brought them. Maybe they found the pickings better, maybe something happened to drive them off the Queensway area, such as better rubbish collection at the cheap restaurants.

  3. I've noticed similar wing fluttering and almost "begging" to be fed by our California Thrasher female early in the breeding season. I think maybe it is similar proof behavior, testing the male for his abilities to bring in the food when she is on the nest. Not sure, but it looks similar. I'll send a video link separately soon.

    1. It can be seen here with Great Tits, Blue Tits and Robins. So it must be widespread among birds where only the female sits on the eggs and needs to be fed by the male.