Saturday 26 January 2019

A Great Black-Backed Gull visited Kensington Gardens. They are only seen here occasionally. The largest of all gulls, they have a wingspan of as much as 5ft 6 in (170 cm).

Here it is beside a Herring Gull for comparison.

It makes our old friend the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull look quite puny.

It made a big splash washing in the Long Water ...

.. and flew up on to a post to dry and preen.

By way of contrast, some very small birds. A Goldcrest unexpectedly popped out of a bush behind the Diana fountain.

A Wren flew into one of the planters in the Italian Garden fountains.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused on a branch.

The familiar Coal Tit near the bridge came out to be fed.

The Little Owl at the Queen's Temple emerged briefly.

The male Peregrine was on the barracks tower.

The Great Crested Grebes from the west end of the island are still trying to get a nest side at the east end, and were fussing about and displaying to stake their claim.

But the male of the resident pair was watching them, and clearly prepared to throw them out.

Several pairs of Shovellers rotated on the Long Water. Unusually, there were some extra females, which caused the drakes to get a bit over-excited.

A skein of geese flew in high over the Serpentine and sideslipped to lose altitude without gaining forward speed so that they could come down on the water.


  1. Impressed with that bird- I've never knowingly seen one of them. Feels almost like having met an albatross. As it's ringed : do we know where it's from?

    1. No. I looked the code M6AT up on the CR-Birding web site, which is supposed to list every plastic ring, under both red and orange, since this was an old and faded ring and might have been either. Nothing listed. The site does occasionally miss things.

  2. I am going to temporarily put aside my love of small birds to favour that fine Great Black-Back. It's like looking at a Great White Shark, or a Nile Crocodile: regardless of sentimental considerations, one cannot be but awed when coming across ruthless evolutionary perfection. Poor Pigeon Killer doesn't stand a chance to hog the limelight this time.

    1. It's curious that the observant Thomas Bewick considered the 'Black-Backed Gull' to be a single species. And it's odder still that some ornithologists are trying to unify the Larus gulls into a single species again, with subspecies of different sizes -- very much against the modern trend of splitting everything into smaller and smaller groups.