Wednesday 30 January 2019

Another frosty night, and the Black-Headed Gulls were out on the ice on the Long Water. They are quite insensitive to having freezing cold feet.

Another investigated a toffee packet on the edge of the Serpentine, which sadly was empty.

We've seen this pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls before, and they've been together for several years, usually near the Lido But their frequent affectionate displays are always interesting. Here they are walking side by side and calling together.

Coots also seem to like being cold and wet, and often stand under the fountains in the Italian Garden getting drenched.

There was a good deal of jostling and chasing among the Mute Swans on the Long Water.

But as soon as the dominant pair start nesting, all other swans will be thrown out and kept out.

The beautiful markings of a Gadwall drake showed well in the sunshine.

The odd couple of a Red-Crested Pochard drake and a female Mallard preened side by side. The drake thought it was time for a little swim around, and pecked her mildly to get her moving.

One of the Little Grebes was fishing under the collapsed willow tree next to the bridge.

The Little Owl in the horse chestnut at the Queen's Temple ...

... and the one in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture enjoyed the sunshine on a cold day.

When Neil passed by the Henry Moore owl he found her quite active, and shot this video of her scratching and moving to another branch.

A Jackdaw found a larva in the woodland on the east side of the Long Water.

There are two Robins here which come out hoping to be fed, but haven't yet taken the plunge of coming to my hand.

A Starling separated from the flock on a tree beside the Serpentine nattered quietly to itself.

There were workmen on the part of the Parade Ground where the Redwings (and with luck Fieldfares) congregate, which had temporarily frightened the birds away. But David Element was in Balham, and got this excellent picture of a Fieldfare.

One rabbit was out on the grass under the Henry Moore, looking lonely.

I wonder whether the population, severely challenged by predators and disease, will ever recover. A few years ago I saw 33 rabbits here.


  1. I wish I had a pet starling, like Mozart. Bern Heinrich recommends them heartily, too. It must be fun to have it terrorize nosy neighbours with its chillingly perfect imitation of human voices.

    That Robin looks about to make up its mind. Perhaps very soon we'll have pictures of this lovely bird on Ralph's hand.

    The Little Owl's eyes never fail to impress me, especially when she is looking at the camera from above. I wonder what she is thinking.

    1. I remember reading that, when Mozart was composing a piece at his keyboard, he played a phrase in a major key and the Starling sang it back to him in the minor. 'Starling, that was beautiful,' said Mozart, and put it into the piece.

  2. Love the video of the well choreographed gulls doing the pair bonding. Notice they are still in winter plumage + haven't yet acquired their pure white heads of breeding plumage yet.

    1. They seem to be an unusually affectionate pair. Pigeon Eater and his mate are never seen in these rituals, though he does let her share his pigeons which must be important for bonding.

  3. My parents used to live opposite a small private music school in the house of a husband-and-wife violinist and pianist. For some years a blackbird living in their garden used to sing snatches of the Beethoven 4th piano concerto.

    1. There's a recording somewhere in the BBC sound archives of a Blackbird giving a very realistic impression of someone putting up a corrugated iron shed.