Saturday, 2 September 2017

The notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate shared another kill on the Serpentine. This pair account for at least one pigeon a day, and in a year must eat a large proportion of the Feral Pigeon population of the park -- though of course this is instantly replaced from outside.

The Black Swan was in an aggressive mood and standing no nonsense from the dominant Mute Swan at the east end of the Serpentine. He cruised around with his ruffles raised, occasionally calling.

A Cormorant caught a perch.

An Alsatian on Buck Hill caught a squirrel, though its owner prevented the dog from eating it.

Some very small birds leaping around in an oak tree near the Hyde Park bandstand turned out to be a Coal Tit ...

... and a Goldcrest.

There are at least a dozen Mistle Thrushes visiting the rowan trees on Buck Hill. They must all be residents, as the autumn migrant thrushes haven't arrived yet.

A flight of Greylag Geese passing over the Serpentine included a Bar-Headed Goose. They didn't came down, and were probably heading for St James's Park where there is a pair of Bar-Heads which sometimes fly over to Hyde Park.

There wasn't much to see on a busy Saturday, so I walked to Regent's Park with Tom and his friend Jayanta. Here we saw another Bar-Headed Goose, apparently the mother of a hybrid whose father was clearly a Greylag. Jayanta said that he had watched this bird grow up from a gosling.

The best sight of the day here was a Little Grebe feeding a chick. As far as I know, no Little Grebe has ever bred successfully in Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park. A few years ago some chicks survived for a few days before the gulls got them.

A young Herring Gull ate a crayfish. We've lost the crayfish in the Serpentine, at least for now. The population has crashed and bounced back in the past.

A Coot did a vertical leap on to a wire fence, knocking off a Black-Headed Gull. This was its second try -- the first time it fell ignominiously into the water.

A Grey Heron looked down from a willow branch high over the water. It's hard to see what advantage the bird gains by doing this. If it sees a fish, it can't leap down like a tern.

Update: Jayanta sent me this splendid picture of a young Great Crested Grebe flying over the Serpentine, taken this morning.

It must be the sole survivor of the first brood of the grebes who nested on the island, and I hadn't seen it for some time. The younger chicks are not old enough to fly yet.


  1. Great shots as ever Ralph. The Coot on the wire made me laugh + fingers crossed the Little Grebe youngster successfully fledges!

    1. Very difficult to see what's going on with the Little Grebes under the overhanging bushes. The young ones make a peep-peep-peep noise like a parking sensor when you get close to the next car.

  2. Seconding the notion that the Coot picture is hilarious. Up it leaped like a dementedly stubborn avenging angel.

    You'd think the pigeons would have learned Pigeon Killer's tactics by now? Perhaps it's newcomers at the park that get decimated.

    Great picture of the angry Black Swan. He's so pretty when he's angry.

    1. The pigeons that survive are aware of the gull. You can see them melt away when he lands on the shore near the Dell restuarant. He has taken to hunting on other parts of the shore where the pigeons are more naive. But there will always be incoming pigeons who don't recognise the danger.

  3. Was the squirrel killed anyway? Jim

    1. Yes. It seemed a waste not to let the dog eat it.