Sunday 17 December 2017

There were five Grey Herons on the island. Two pairs were occupying two nests, with one of each pair actually in the nest and the mate nearby. Here is one fast asleep under the nest tree.

The fifth heron was at the end of the island, staring enviously at the others.

There have been three nests here before. There are also three baskets in the trees beside the Long Water, put up to encourage herons to nest there, as they do in Regent's Park. But the birds haven't got the idea, and one of the baskets has now come loose and fallen over.

The second pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had made a kill on his usual territory below the Triangle car park, and had eaten most of it and wandered off. A Carrion Crow saw its chance.

But the gull would have none of that, and stalked back indignantly to reclaim the tattered carcase.

This gull likes to put its pigeon under the edge of the kerb to make it easier to tear pieces off. A crow, with its strong feet, doesn't need to do this.

One of the pair of Great Crested Grebes at the east end of the Serpentine is regrowing its breeding plumage. They only spend a couple of months in their monochrome winter plumage. Evidently they only need to be inconspicuous while they are growing their moulted wing feathers and are flightless.

A pair of Egyptian Geese were bobbing their heads in a courtship display like that of ducks. It soon became clear why they were doing this display, as a rival called loudly from the shore. Egyptians are, in a way, halfway between geese and ducks: their newly hatched young look like ducklings and their nearest European relative is the Shelduck.

Under the balcony of the Dell restaurant, a Shoveller drake was shovelling so briskly that he made the water froth.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial kept one eye on the world outside.

The owl on the lime tree near the Henry Moore was also out. In the dim light, both were barely visible unless you knew exactly where to look.

I met Rani in the Rose Garden, refilling the feeders. In winter they need to be refilled once a day, a serious and expensive task. The Rose-Ringed Parakeets, which are now beginning to be numerous in Hyde Park as well as Kensington Gardens, get a lot of the food.

A Robin waiting for the feeder to be ready was not deterred by the rain, or by the noise of the funfair a few yards away, and was singing loudly. I gave it some pine nuts to keep it going.

A Wren came out on an alder tree near the leaf yard.

The Long-Tailed Tits were elusive in the park, but as I went home through the churchyard of Holy Trinity Brompton there was a big flock going up the avenue.


  1. Egyptian Geese are apparently equally closely related to all the Tadorna Shelducks, which in Europe also include the Ruddy Shelduck. Jim

    1. Thanks. I hadn't even started exploring shelduck taxonomy, but now it is as clear as gold.

  2. Delighted to 'meet' everybody's heroines Rani and Belle, if only virtually. Please do let them know that their labour of heart has fans even overseas!

    I laughed myself silly about the keeping one eye on the world comment.

    The Great Crested Grebe looks so marvellously pretty and pristine now that the business of rearing the next generation is finished. But once again, what truly made my day is the brave Robin singing its cheery song in the face of the cold and the rain (I hope it put some warmth for Ralph in that appears to be another miserably cold day).

    1. The song of Robins is very cheering, even though you know they are shouting 'This is mine, go away!'