Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Two dramatic photographs sent by Michael Frankling. A Cormorant under the parapet of the Italian Garden, with a small roach seeing its last daylight.

Or at least I think it was a roach. I'm not good at fish, but this next one is a puzzle for anyone. This Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine has caught a fish which a fisherman told Michael was a ruffe, Gymnocephalus cernua, also known as a pope. I hadn't even heard of this fish, let alone of its presence in the Serpentine.

Another picture of a grebe, by David Element. It is laboriously hauling itself into the air after its desperate 50-yard takeoff run.

Virginia reports that the Egyptian Geese at the Henry Moore sculpture have no goslings today. Here is her picture from yesterday, when they still had four.

This is not the familiar hopeless pair of Egyptians that nest around here. Another pair has also nested here in several past years, but they too have never had any surviving young. Although there is plenty of cover in this place, and fewer big gulls than on the open Serpentine, there may be some extra danger here. There are certainly foxes in the shrubbery.

Every winter many Pochards shelter under the bushes on either side of the sculpture. David Element's close-up of a drake shows the brilliant red eye and the fine vermiculations of the plumage on the back.

Another of his close-up shots: a Grey Heron waiting stock still for anything edible to appear, which it will seize in a flash.

And a Common Gull, equally ready to grab.

This Herring Gull, in a picture taken by Virginia, has been successful, stealing a Danish pastry off an outside table at the Lido restaurant, and is quickly taking its prize to a quiet spot to enjoy it.

A Kestrel in Richmond Park, photographed by Fran, has also picked up some lunch, a tasty vole.

Virginia captured this shot of a pair of Feral Pigeons mating on the roof of one of the small boathouses, being barged by a jealous rival.

And a sunny picture from Spain by Tinúviel of two House Sparrows on a patch of ivy.

This is Tom's slow-motion video of a very confident Jay in St James's Park, which will perch on your hand to take food.

The Jays in Kensington Gardens won't do this, but they will grab a whole peanut from your fingers in passing, a nifty bit of precision flying that they clearly enjoy, because the habit is spreading.

The Jackdaws in Kensington Gardens haven't reached this stage, though they will come to take peanuts thrown on the ground, as in this picture by Eleanor. But the bumptious behaviour of the Jackdaws in Richmond Park suggests that they will become bolder.


  1. Pretty sure the Kestrel is eating a Short-tailed (Field) Vole not a rat! Some lovely photos as ever + pleased you're improving in health, Ralph.

    1. I'm sure you're right as usual. I was being very careful with those fish, but relaxed my guard for the mammal.

      Lucky to have such talented photographers sending in pictures. I was worried about whether I'd be able to keep the blog going, but it's been fine. Nevertheless I am aching to get back into the park.

  2. Isn't that fish too large for the Great Crested Grebe? I know Cormorants are very good at looking like feathered pythons and swallowing incredibly large fish, but I'm not sure about the Grebe.

    I do hope they never need to take off in a hurry. Otherwise we'd be in trouble.

    1. Grebes can swallow surprisingly large fish too, but that one's on the borderline. Not my picture, so I don't know what happened next.

      When danger threatens they don't fly, they dive.