Wednesday 31 October 2018

Both Peregrines were on the barracks tower, but by the time I got close the male had flown away. This is the female.

A Lesser Black-Backed Gull finished off the carcase of a pigeon killed and mostly eaten by the usual Lesser Black-Back.

The killer is actually a food source for other birds, as there are always leftovers. He is now killing well over 400 Feral Pigeons a year, which must be close to the total population, in addition to those taken by the regularly visiting Sparrowhawks and occasional Peregrines. And yet the pigeon population never falls, as more simply come in from outside. The holly tree near the bridge always has a mob of them in the topmost branches.

One of the Coal Tits in the Rose Garden was looking sad after the feeder had been stolen.

After I had been round the lake I went to buy a new one, and chained and padlocked it to the tree. Let's hope this works. It will take a day or two for birds to start visiting it, as it is a different colour from the old one, and had to be hung from a different branch as the thief broke the original branch.

A Mistle Thrush rattled on on the top of a small tree.

A Starling beside the Serpentine shone beautifully in the low sunlight.

A Nuthatch in the leaf yard looked round a branch to see if there was any food on the railings.

A reminder that the ubiquitous Rose-Ringed Parakeets have been in Europe for a long time: a detail of a tapestry of about 1500 in the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Thanks to Peter Schmitt for this picture.

A Great Crested Grebe sped around under the edge of the Serpentine.

The Bar-Headed Geese that visit the park associate easily with the Greylags, and in St James's Park have interbred with them. They are a bit smaller than Greylags and much quieter.

A Greylag washing on the Serpentine made a big splash ...

... but nothing makes a bigger splash than a Mute Swan.

The young swan that landed in the Italian Garden fountain, slightly injuring a wing, seems to like the place, as it has flown back in and has spent the last three days there.

A Tufted Duck cruised through the fallen leaves at Peter Pan.


  1. Seeing the clip of the young swan with the Italian Garden fountain for himself, it never fails to amaze me what elegant, stately creatures swans are. They may be brutish, ill-tempered and downright nasty on occasion, but they are so darn beautiful.

    Great picture of the Grebe acting like a torpedo. I always love seeing them use their strange but efficient propulsion system.

    That is a very tempting-looking feeder, but it is very securely attached to the tree, fortunately. Curse tablets wouldn't have gone amiss though. The enterprising folks at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents have put together a website to write your very own curse tablet:

  2. It's always amazing to see a grebe travelling under water along the edge of the lake. You have to run to keep up with it.

    Thanks for the link giving a toolkit for writing a curse tablet. It's quite complicated, but there are further links to follow for examples. Much simpler was the inscription that the boys at my school used to write in their books:


    What would you say is the best Latin equivalent word for a bird feeder, calathus?

    1. "Calathus" would work, because of the shape (a basket that has a narrow base) and because it can be filled with foodstuff (fruits and grains, mainly).

      I can't bring up what the exact word for bird feeder was. There are two words that fit well the structure of the word "bird-feeder", ornithoboskion and ornithotrophion, but the problem is that they always mean "henhouse", so the meaning is too different to allow use. Chickens as well as the rest of domestic livestock would be fed at puelai, which were troughs. That is not the same as a feeder.

      I think I have seen a variant of that curse written in an old school edition of I think it was Livy I purchased second-hand ages ago! I always enjoy reading the scribblings and annotations made by schooboys in those old school texts.

    2. BTW puelos is Greek, not Latin!

    3. Thank you. It seems quite probable that the rich set their slaves to attract birds into their gardens to yield scenes like one sees in wall paintings. Perhaps one of these days a fragment will turn up at Oxyrhynchus that will reveal how they did it.

      At school my Latin primer was a secondhand book whose title had been altered to read

  3. Sadly I don't think that chain stands much chance against some pocket tools. Always love the comically upturned waterfowl though. Jim

    1. I always carry a multi-tool with wire cutters on it. Just hoping that the miserable sneak thief doesn't go around similarly tooled up. The chain has welded links and is quite strong.