Sunday, 21 January 2018

Readers continue to send in very fine pictures of birds both in the park outside, for which I am very grateful as I sit here nursing my injured ankle. All contributions are very welcome, and you can send them to This is a better choice than my private email address, as its small inbox can get too full when several people send large picture files.

The weather is absolutely horrible today, and I shouldn't think that anyone was taking pictures in the sleet, though Abigail did heroically venture out to feed the white-faced Blackbird, who is slowly responding and becoming less shy.

Here are three pictures taken by Virginia yesterday. First, a dramatic shot of two Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine having a territorial dispute. They are sensing the distant approach of spring, and there has already been a preliminary bout of nest building on the island.

A Shoveller drake meditatively scratched his chin.

And a Robin was singing fit to bust.

This striking picture of a flying Mallard is by David Element.

Derek Polley, better known as the Belfast Birder, was visiting the park recently, saw and photographed a crowd of Grey Herons which had assembled near the Dell. He was puzzled by this.

Regular visitors will know that there is a man who walks through the park every day and feeds the herons and other birds. He has a reguar schedule. The herons know about this and turn out just before he arrives.

Another picture from the park, but taken a while ago: a splendid shot by Fran of a Little Owl having a stretch. I think this is the female owl from the chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

The pair tend to disappear into the leaf yard in midwinter, and neither has been seen for several weeks. If all goes well they will be out again in the spring.

Fran also took this picture, probably the most remarkable photograph ever to appear on this blog. It was shot on a visit to Mull. A Common Buzzard landed on the back of a flying White-Tailed Eagle, and stood there like a wingwalker at an air show.

It's hard to guess what the buzzard thought it was doing, but there must have been some intention of stealing a fish if the eagle caught one.

Justyna C. sent this picture of a single file of Mute Swans going through a narrow passage in the ice on a frozen pond in Krakow. It's up to the front swan to break the ice for the others.

I've seen swans breaking the ice in the park. They repeatedly heave themselves on to the edge and sit on it to break it. It's strenuous work.

Two more fine pictures by David Element. First, a House Sparrow, photographed in a dogwood bush at Wandle Park. They are sadly missed in our own park. The last one was seen in 2000.

He has foxes in his garden, who are now so used to him that he can take close-up shots.

Earlier this year there was another unexpectedly tame creature, a Cuckoo at Thursley Park. Tom took this excellent picture of it.

Another picture by Tom, of a female Kestrel, I think at Rainham Marshes.

Here is his video of the Water Rail in Regent's Park creeping furtively through the mud on the edge of the reed bed near the two little wooden bridges.


  1. Hope you make a full recovery soon, Ralph. Some interesting photos featured. I suspect the Buzzard is just mobbing the eagle rather than trying to steal fish.

    1. Thanks. You're probably right about the Buzzard. But anyway, what a picture.

    2. That Common Buzzard's picture is incredible! I too think it was bullying the eagle. I have seen a common kestrel almost get on top of a booted eagle to drive it away from its territory (and an European roller doing quite the same with a male marsh harrier!).

    3. Amazing. I suppose in each case the smaller bird is more manoeuvrable and can get away unharmed.