Saturday 20 October 2018

There are strangely few Mistle Thrushes. Some autumn migrants arrived and seem to have gone somewhere else. But today there were two on a rowan tree on Buck Hill.

A flock of about twenty Blue Tits flew into the nearby hawthorn. You think there aren't many Blue Tits in the park, and then a lot turn up at once.

Another hawthorn by the Serpentine had a flock of Long-Tailed Tits in it.

A sweetgum tree shone brilliant red at the Diana fountain ...

... where a gang of Carrion Crows were begging for food from the picnickers.

When a crow comes and looks at you, you just have to give it something.

A Jackdaw clung to the trunk of an oak tree in the leaf yard.

Two Jays flew down to drink at the pool in front of the Rima relief.

One of the Dunnocks near the bridge foraged under the bushes.

It was a warm afternoon. The Cormorants on the posts at Peter Pan were feeling the heat, and panting.

One came in to land on a post ...

... and just managed it without falling off.

A Black-Headed Gull knocked another one off a post, but then lost its own footing.

A Coot enjoyed a brisk wash until a Black-Headed Gull passed and normal hostilities were resumed.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes from the west end of the island was fishing by itself in the territory of the other family, who were all there. They were taking no notice of it for the time being.

A late Red Admiral butterfly perched on an ivy stem.

In this blog I've been ignoring Christo's enormous art installation in the middle of the Serpentine, which is now being dismantled. But I have been videoing it while it was being built, and Johanna van de Woestijne has made a short film about it with my clips and her time-lapse sequences.


  1. I have mixed feelings regarding Christo's Mastaba. On the one hand, so much labour and ingenuity spent on something temporary that, from my point of view, is a blight on the loveliness of the landscape. On the other hand though, the resulting short film is very intriguing (so well done, both Ralph and Joahanna!), so I guess it is all to the good. I share the Grebe's puzzled look, even so.

    Perhaps I shouldn't guffaw at the video of the Coot's going back to hostile business as usual as soon as it lands eyes on the passing Gull, but I did. There is something comical in the Coot's happy abandon while washing in contrast with its sharp and swift readiness to fight.

    1. Christo's original plan was for a version slightly higher than the Great Pyramid -- so over 150 m tall -- using 410,000 real oil drums, to be built in the desert in Abu Dhabi. The sheikh understandably refused. But the people who run the Serpentine Gallery, home to conceptual art of aching vacuity, can make the park authorities agree to almost anything by waving a flag labelled Culture, and so the homeless project landed here. At least Christo is paying for it. His projects seem to be self-sustaining through merchandising (though maybe EU grants play a part, so it's not as free as it looks). He is now off to build a Mastaba in Kuwait, though I don't know about its size. The lightweight barrels on the structure here are being crushed before removal, so it's all going to be built with new materials.

    2. I agree, the Christo Mastaba is puzzling, out of place, and just plain weird. I'm glad Ralph was able to video the building of it though, which was the only interesting part, to my view of it. It was a fun excuse to take some time lapses too, which have a bit of a surreal quality to them. It was very tough to edit to that music too.

  2. Complete waste of time and money, you were right to ignore it.

  3. Lovely photos as ever- nice seeing the Red Admiral on the ivy; I've seen 2 around London over the last week, but yesterday only managed a Small White.

    The glorious autumn colour isn't a maple (looks a bit similar) but is a North american Sweetgum, Liquidamber styraciflua.

    1. Thanks. Have surreptitiously changed the text. I looked at the leaves and could only think of a maple. The park is a treacherous place for identification with all those exotic species. The older trees used to have labels, but most of these have fallen off and no one has bothered to replace them.

      I saw a Peacock butterfly the day before yesterday, but it wouldn't stop to have its picture taken.

  4. However ingenious the Mastaba may be and however attractive in another setting, it was totally out of place dumped on the Serpentine, obscuring the wonderful rustic views from almost any direction, its huge unnatural structure dominating a scene of near-natural beauty for which the park is treasured. The Director of Planning's report accepted by the planning committee who gave permission included "the art installation is not considered to harm the setting of Hyde Park" - was the author wearing a (notional) blindfold I wonder? Royal Parks and other bodies whose function includes the conservation of the unique landscape seem to quail in fear at the mention of "cultural benefit" to which everything else is subservient. Mercifully our precious waterfowl seemed pretty indifferent to the intrusion and our tufted ducks had a record year for breeding - but please don't regard that as a recommendation for another installation!