Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Neil sent me a splendid compilation of the birds he fed while walking around the Long Water. The Nuthatch in the leaf yard is a bird of moods. Sometimes it will feed happily from your hand, but at other times all you have to do is look at it and it flees into the bushes. The Robin is the very confident one on the east side of the Long Water. Jays follow you along the path. The family of four Carrion Crows live near the Henry Moore sculpture.

Here are more fine pictures from the park sent in by readers while I am out of action. You can send your pictures to kensingtonbirds@gmail.com. Please send them at a size of at least 1000 x 750 pixels for the 4:3 format of older cameras, or 1024 x 683 for the wider format of newer SLRs. Larger pictures are fine, as I can reduce them.

Virginia provided a couple of dramatic shots of fights: a female Mandarin versus a Coot ...

... and two Shoveller drakes chasing each other.

She also sent a peaceful shot of a pair of Great Crested Grebes courting on the Serpentine.

Eleanor captured a young Mute Swan in a bit of a flap on the Long Water.

This is not one of the swans that were hatched here last year by the dominant pair. They didn't have such dark grey heads.

She also sent a pleasing shot of a Coal Tit waiting to be fed.

This picture by David Element shows the male Little Owl of the pair near the leaf yard, stretching a wing on a branch next to his hole in the horse chestnut tree near the Queen's Temple.

He seems to have given up this place during the recent bad weather, and his mate is not in her usual tree either. They may have found better shelter inside the leaf yard. They often disappear in midwinter and don't return till the leaves start to come out.

The Harris Hawk is still in St James's Park, usually hidden by twigs, but Mark got this good unobstructed shot. The hawk is still surrounded by Carrion Crows which would like to mob it but have to keep a safe distance from those large talons. The hawk doesn't seem worried, as it could have any of them for breakfast if it wanted.

Pictures from farther afield: a fine shot by Fran of a Bittern in Norfolk.

Tom photographed this male Bearded Tit at Rainham Marshes.

It doesn't really have a beard, but it's hard to find a name for these peculiar black sideburns.

Three pictures from TinĂºviel in Extremadura. The first one is particularly remarkable, as it shows a Crested Lark using a tool -- not, as far as I know, something that has been observed before in this species. It was banging a chip of stone into the joints of the paving to dislodge insects, making a tremendous clatter.

She has House Sparrows on her roof, though they are very shy and keep their distance.

This is another picture from the Los Barruecos wildlife reserve, which is strewn with huge granite boulders known as bolos. They provide nest sites for White Storks.


  1. I was told that St James Park has some uncommon ducks and pelicans about. Would it be possible to show some pictures of them. I am planning to play a visit in the near future. Thanks.

    1. St James's Park has a collection of captive pinioned birds, including three pelicans and a lot of exotic ducks and geese. I don't like keeping birds in captivity, and don't photograph them.

      If you do a Google image search for "St James's Park Birds" you will see plenty of them. Once you are in the park, if you walk round the lake you will find a large notice with pictures that will help you to identify them.

  2. What a bonanza of great pictures! Lovely video of the little birds feeding so trustingly. I envy how tame British birds are. Why is the Nuthatch so changeable, I wonder?

    I must ask: who won the fight? The Coot or the Mallard?

    1. Birds do have moods, and often a bird you know well won't come to your hand. But Nuthatches seem to be absolutely bipolar. I have no idea why.

      Maybe Virginia can answer the question about the winner of the Mandarin--Coot fight. But I think it was just a brief flurry and they both headed off in opposite directions.

  3. Bearded Tits of course are not true tits either, hence the attempt to re-brand them Bearded Reedling, barely more successful than the "Stock Pigeon". Maybe "Walrus-moustached Reedling", but I fear that's as ill-fated as my "Great African Tree Duck". Great record for the lark as you say. Jim

  4. A very late reply!!!
    The Mandarin female won hands down - she was defending her territory with clout!