Friday 10 November 2017

The newly arrived Black Swans have moved down on to the Serpentine. Here they are by the Dell restaurant, playing with fallen leaves.

They were clearly pleased to find the resident Black Swan, but he was standoffish. They are only a year and a half old, and he must regard them as silly teenagers.

He is much more interested in being fed, and irritably pecked away some intrusive Feral Pigeons. But the young swans followed him everywhere. After a while this procession was joined by some curious Mute Swans.

In the general mob on the edge of the Serpentine there was no sign of the two pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, but it was clear that they had been at work, as a Carrion Crow was finishing off the remains of a Feral Pigeon.

Virginia found the blond male Egyptian Goose -- the only one in the park, as blond males are rare -- with a bit of wire from some fishing tackle caught tight round its foot, which was badly swollen. It was in the Diana fountain enclosure, which is closed for maintenance and the gates are locked.

So she called Malcolm, the Royal Parks Wildlife Officer, who unlocked the gate, and they went in and performed the tricky task of separating the goose from the flock without causing them all to fly away, which is a bit like a sheepdog trial in 3D. Malcolm removed the wire and put the goose into the lake.

He thinks its foot will be all right. Today it was back in the enclosure, limping and obviously still in pain, but the swelling had gone down a bit.

Malcolm is retiring on 20 December, and will be sadly missed. For years he has performed the almost impossible task of looking after the wildilife in all the Royal Parks -- Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, St James's Park, Regent's Park, Primrose Hill, Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Brompton Cemetery, Victoria Tower Gardens and Grosvenor Square Garden -- and has to spend most of his time driving between these widely separated places. No one else could have done it for so long.

The Starlings in the park know when it's sunny enough for people to eat on the terrace of the Lido restaurant, and they also know exactly when it's lunchtime. They gather slightly beforehand and wait to start raiding tables.

The park's Jackdaws also know when I usually arrive at the leaf yard, and more and more of them are lining up to be given peanuts. I just had to go to the supermarket and buy another eight bags.

A Blue Tit was also expecting to be fed.

Long-Tailed Tits take no notice of people. Several flocks were flying through the now bare treetops.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was outside her hole. She usually perches here instead of basking in the sunshine, which she could easily do by going on to the top of the branch.


  1. Replies
    1. I wish YouTube wouldn't chew up the video and make it all pixelated. I could get better results with Vimeo, but embedding the clips involves working with HTML, which wastes a lot of time.

  2. I bet that if park birds only could, they'd raise a statue to Ralph, the provider of free manna from Heaven.

    Please convey our gratitude and warmest wishes to Malcolm. We do not know him personally, but it's almost as if we did. He is a good man.