Monday 23 October 2017

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was visible again after spending several days in her hole sheltering from the gale.

A pair of Pied Wagtails crossed the Serpentine and paused for a moment in a tree.

A Starling perched on one of the royal crowns that act as chimneys for the gas lamp posts.

A Robin preened in the Rose Garden.

The Black Swan crossed paths with the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

These four young swans spend much of their time in this place below the Triangle car park, often blocking the path. Two dozed, two preened, and one accidentally kicked the other and got prodded out of the way.

The white Mallard and his little group passed a Mute Swan, showing how yellow his new plumage is. In three months' time the colour will have faded so much that he is whiter than a swan.

There are three of these dark Mallards. Two were together at the Vista, and this one alone near Peter Pan. Presumably they are brothers. Their green heads are even shinier than those of normal Mallard drakes.

In contrast, a Gadwall drake is a model of sober elegance.

Four Cormorants attended to their feathers on the wrecked raft at the east end of the Serpentine.

The destruction caused by swans nesting on it revals that it is made of hollow plastic balls linked together, which were originally covered with a 'geotextile', a mat in which plants grew. I wish someone would repair these tattered rafts, replace the fence with something more swan-proof, and anchor them properly to stop them from drifting around. The park management has a tendency to install expensive things and then forget about them.

A pair of Coots were amicably sharing a bit of food, a rare sight with these belligerent birds.

Mario directed me to two new kinds of mushroom in Kensington Gardens, Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum) ...

... and Trooping Funnel (Infundibulicybe geotropa) ...

... so called because of its habit of growing in lines or large groups.

The variety of fungi in Hyde Park is staggering, but of course you need a mushroom maven to point it out to you.


  1. Is there anything that is swan proof, I wonder.

    Why does the white Mallard become less yellowy and more snowy white with time? Feather attrition? I think I remember reading that the flashy summer plumage of some wading birds is due to attrition of the winter feathers.

  2. I think the white Mallard's feathers are full of the yellow carotene pigment astaxanthin when they first grow, and this gets bleached by sunlight over the months. He's yellower underneath, which supports this theory.