Sunday, 16 July 2017

The notorious pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull struck again at the Dell restaurant, this time successfully killing his prey.

He carried the pigeon up to the restaurant roof so that he could eat it undisturbed by the Sunday crowds. A Carrion Crow would have liked some, but didn't get a chance. From the moment that the gull killed the pigeon to the last scene, where he had eaten most of it, took just 17 minutes.

In the water below, the Black Swan was in competition with the local dominant Mute Swan, which bullies everything at the east end of the lake. He was performing his threat display, quite unlike that of a Mute Swan, with lowered head and a musical call.

But he still got chased away.

The white Mallard was on one of the rafts with his male friend, though his mate was away. It's hard to see what stage of moult he's at, because he is always white even in eclipse -- though his new feathers are creamy rather than pure white. However, in this picture you can see that he's regrowing his flight feathers.

The Mandarin teenagers and their mother were at Peter Pan. A drake turned up, looking sad and tatty in eclipse, and they chased him away.

The two Mallard ducklings were standing on the edge of the water. They are just beginning to look slightly grown up.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose has lost her last gosling of her new brood. She and her mate were consoling themselves with a display.

The Great Crested Grebes in the reoccupied nest on the island still only have one egg, as I saw when the people at Bluebird Boats kindly took me out to have a look. The female was sitting on it, but again got off as soon as we looked at her, quite unlike the calm previous occupant. We left her in peace.

A family of Moorhens was wandering around inside the wire baskets surrounding the island. I couldn't see how they got in. The chicks can get through the mesh, but their mother. can't. These baskets are meant to contain water plants but have never been very successful, and many of them are now empty and rather unsightly, but they do give shelter to nesting birds.

The sole surviving Coot chick at the nest on the wire basket near the bridge was alone on the nest, and struck a king-of-the-castle attitude.

A young Blackbird ate a blackberry beside the leaf yard.

The female Little Owl was in her usual tree.

Two days ago I showed a picture of a Jay in my street looking hungrily at a family of Goldfinches. These have now firmly settled in, and can be heard twittering from plants on the balconies or from the television aerials. Here is one staring boldly at the camera from the front railings.


  1. Thanks Ralph for all you help- had the little owl !! Great !! also around 5 house martin nesting in Kuwait embassy flowers from back of building

    1. Glad you managed to find the tree. It's hard to count the House Martins on the embassy, but I think at least two of the holes have two nests inside, so the total is probably higher than five.

  2. Poor Blondie... it goes on to show that not even excellent mothers can turn back the tide.

    The Black Swan is graceful even in the middle of a threatening display. The other Swan is much too brawny though, even for our courageous stroppy friend. Does he still come to you to be fed by hand?

    I just couldn't bring myself to finish watching Pigeon Killer's latest triumph. Suffice to day, it is an uncommonly fast, powerful, intelligent, and canny bird. Perhaps we ought to be grateful that it isn't either willing or able to pass on its tricks to other gulls: we would be welcoming our new Gull overlords in no time.

    Goldfinches are like Robins: capable of brightening up any dull day.

    1. Sadly for us, though probably happily for him, the Black Swan has adjusted to life as a swan and takes far less notice of people than he did. He still comes to people who throw bread for a group of swans, but he no longer has particular friends like Fran and Jorgen and me.

  3. Do the mute swans even recognise the black swan's display as threatening? It's so very different; would like to see that. I suppose hid intent might be clear.
    Particularly enchanted today by that portrait of the teenage mallards. And the single coot chick.

    1. When the Black Swan was more aggressive last year, he often did this threat display, and some of the other swans learned what it meant, certainly including the boss of the east end of the Serpentine, with whom he had several run-ins.

  4. Hi Ralph
    Just to say I only just discovered your blog, but I am really enjoying your posts. I walked home through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens yesterday, and watched a LBB Gull flying up to the cafe roof then back down to the Serpentine. I didn't realise there was a pigeon killer there until seeing the latest blog! I will watch more carefully and maybe for a bit longer next time! The sole GC grebe chick on the nest basket near the bridge had a parent with it when I went by, and the second parent came after a few minutes with some food.

    I also went looking for the Little Owl near the leaf yard. I think I found the place where the tree is, via the coordinates you had posted (there were many people feeding the ring necked parakeets nearby?), but I didn't manage to spot the owl. I will keep looking! :)
    It would be great to join you one day and watch with you, as you have such a rich history of the birds here, and I am very much learning! Do let me know if that is possible or not, of course I understand if not.
    Best wishes, and thanks again for the great blog!

    1. I'd be happy to show you round the park. Normally I meet people at the south end of the Serpentine bridge at 10.30 am. If you would care to name a day by commenting on the latest blog post, I can tell you if I'm free. NB don't put your email address or telephone number on the blog, or it may be trawled by a bot and used to spam you.

    2. Thanks Ralph, I will do that!