Monday 25 December 2017

On a cloudy, dark Christmas day with the park full of visitors there was not much to see, but at least the Little Owl near the Albert Memorial showed her face.

At least 50 people had collected at the leaf yard to feed the Rose-Ringed Parakeets, which clustered above them in a hazel bush which was already bearing catkins because of the mild weather.

I was at the other end of the leaf yard to feed the tits, which assembled in a tree when they saw me.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees over the Queen's Temple ...

... where a Carrion Crow stood  on the cornice waiting to be given a peanut ...

... and a Wren hopped around in a bush.

It wouldn't be Christmas without a picture of a Robin. This one is on my hand, photographed by Fran.

A Great Crested Grebe was fishing under the willow tree near the bridge.

A pair of Shovellers revolving together were only distracted for a moment when a Canada Goose barged past them.

The white Mallard copied a Mute Swan family preening on the island.

The blond Egyptian Goose whose foot was injured scratched himself under the chin, showing that the swelling has almost completely disappeared.


  1. I'm used to seeing sparrows gather in tree branches getting ready to demolish a bagfull of bread crumbs, but I have never seen so many Great Tits gathering for that purpose. Great Tits here do not pay any heed to humans, for good or ill.

    Lovely picture of the trusting Christmas Robin eating from Ralph's hand. Why is the Robin a symbol of Christmas in the UK, I wonder? The red breast?

    Just found this delightful set of pictures of Anna Pavlova and her pet swan. It astounds me to see how loving and tame the swan looks.

    1. how I wish we had enough sparrows in central London to gather.

    2. There are a very few colonies of House Sparrows in central London, such as the one at Regent's Park zoo. All are sustained by people feeding them. But I don't know how you could start them visiting.

    3. Sparrow populations are falling catastrophically in Spain as well, well in line with the rest of western Europe, but in small towns (particularly towns with no invasion of monk parakeets) and in not too densely populated urban areas they are still going strong.

      In my turn, I so envy you your tame, bold, and trusty birds.

    4. There are still quite a lot of House Sparrows in outer London, especially south of the river. It's only in the centre of the city that there is this great hole, for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained.

    5. There is a great deal of mythology attached to Robins, and they are traditionally viewed as psychopomps, guides of souls -- a role which resurfaces much later in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. There was an old English tradition of hunting a Robin and a Wren at Christmas, with the usual medieval mixture of reverence and cruelty. A folk belief is that a Robin sang to cheer Jesus on the cross, and was splashed with blood.

      Call for the robin-redbreast and the wren,
      Since o’er shady groves they hover
      And with leaves and flowers do cover
      The friendless bodies of unburied men.
      Call unto his funeral dole
      The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole
      To rear him hillocks that shall keep him warm
      And (when gay tombs are robb’d) sustain no harm;
      But keep the wolf far thence, that’s foe to men,
      For with his nails he’ll dig them up again.

      --- John Webster, from The White Devil

    6. When Queen Mary II, wife of and joint ruler with William III, died in 1694 at Kensington Palace, her body lay in state in Westminster Abbey. A Robin flew in and perched on the catafalque, and stayed there until she was buried.

  2. Brilliant wonderful Happy Christmas Ralph.
    Thank you for all.