Monday 16 October 2017

The day started clear with sunshine, but gradually a brown haze spread over the sky, which you can see in this picture of a Pied Wagtail on the roof of the Serpentine Gallery.

Apparently it's caused by Hurricane Ophelia churning up sand from southern Europe and Africa. As I write this around 4.15pm, the sky is a dull ginger and it's quite dark.

The Black Swan, whom I didn't see yesterday, is still here. He was on the Long Water preening and flapping his unexpectedly white wings.

Later he came on to the Serpentine and, as usual, came over to be fed. He was annoyed by the other birds trying to eat his treat, so he came ashore for a second helping and made a defiant neck-stretching gesture at them.

You can see two Shovellers in the first picture of the Black Swan. There are still only three. The third one was at the Italian Garden. Somehow his shovelling action has blown a bubble.

A pair of Egyptian Geese were flying from tree to tree near the Round Pond, displaying and making a racket. To some extent they are prospecting for nest sites, but mostly it's a proclamation of territory.

The hopeless pair of Egyptians at the Henry Moore statue were also displaying and calling to each other, and seem about to nest again. Since they have never managed to raise a single gosling in the 14 years they have been here, it's wasted effort.

Cormorants were fishing near the bridge, catching small perch. These came up wrapped in a massive bundle of weed with had to be separated and spat out.

One of them preened on a post.

The second pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull has not been in his usual place near the Triangle car park for several days. I found him on the edge of the Round Pond. He has been seen eating a pigeon here.

There were Blackbirds eating fruit in the rowan trees on Buck Hill, but no sign of a Mistle Thrush. I've only seen or heard a few of these in the past few days.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was in the same place, and this picture is almost the same as yesterday's. But it's always a pleasure to see her.

On warm days at lunchtime, the Lido restaurant is overrun with Starlings trying to grab food off the tables, to the exasperation of the staff. I could see them glaring at this kind person attracting even more of them.


  1. I have been guilty on occasion of feeding bread crumbs to all manners of birds while dining al fresco. The waitstaff would have disembowelled me if they only could, from the look of their faces.

    People in a northern town in Spain are saying that yesterday was the day with no dawn. There have been raging wildfires in the whole northwest of Spain and they couldn't simply see the light of day because of the smoke. I was put in mind, quite forcefully, of the Dawnless Day in The Lord of the Rings.

    1. I don't know to what extent the stuff in our skies comes from wildfires in the Iberian peninsula, and to what extent it's sand said to be from the Sahara (which is an awfully long way off). You can't believe anything you hear on the news these days, no matter how uncontroversial the subject.

  2. It seems to be that black swans with a good/natural diet have black tips to all their flight feathers which they can lose from too much bread etc, alas. Jim

    1. Are you sure about that? I have been searching the web for pictures of Black Swans flying, concentrating on Australian and New Zealand images, and those with black-tipped flight feathers are in a small minority. I had been told that a Black Swan's first adult set of flight feathers is black-tipped and subsequent ones all white.

    2. Ah maybe you're right. Maybe it's some sort of early ageing effect like people in their 20's losing their ability to hear bats and for certain other feats. Jim

    3. The same change happens in the tail feathers of Black-Headed Gulls.