Saturday 19 January 2019

It was a dark grey chilly day, but the Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture came out of her hole. Little Owls vary in their attitude to the weather, and this one is very tough. She will stand outside in freezing rain.

The male Peregrine was by himself on the barracks tower. He tends to sit with his back to the park, while the female (see yesterday's picture) likes to face outwards.

The male Great Crested Grebe from the west end of the island headed east in a militant attitude.

When he reached the grebes from the east end, there was a confrontation ...

... and a brief fight.

Both contestants withdrew to be congratulated by their mates.

Nothing was achieved.

A Coot dredged up a stone and pecked the algae off it. Gulls also do this. Evidently there's something extra delicious about the algae that grow on loose stones.

On the Bluebird Boats platform, a Moorhen investigated a sponge to see if it was edible.

A Cormorant caught a small perch under the marble fountain.

The Bar-Headed--Greylag Goose hybrid ate some sand to help grind up its diet of tough grass.

This picture makes you wonder whether it was the swan or Leda who started it. (But the swan here is female.)

A Song Thrush sang at the back of the Cavalry Memorial.

I would have liked to have videoed it, but a very noisy police helicopter hung around overhead for hours.

A Jackdaw found itself alone in the Dell and called to see if there were any others near. Then it flew to the Rose Garden, still calling, but didn't find another Jackdaw. There are still not many at the east end of Hyde Park, though their territory is gradually expanding. They have also recently started appearing in South Kensington.

A Black-Headed Gull called from the top of a stone urn in the Italian Garden. There were other gulls in sight, but not near. I don't know what it was calling to or for, but it seemed urgent.

While I was trying to get a picture of a Long-Tailed Tit in a very dark place under the bridge ...

... an unexpected Buff-Tailed Bumblebee appeared and started browsing on some winter flowers.


  1. That's the first bumblebee of the year, isn't it? Poor, poor thing. Aren't temperatures expected to drop way down?

    Konrad Lorenz said that he started a second Jackdaw colony after catastrophically losing his first one solely out of pity for the loneliness of the sole remaining female Jackdaw, which would call incessantly for its mate.

    Dunno. That Swan appears to be uncomfortable.

  2. I think that at least some bumblebees survive the winter. They can warm themselves by flying, and being hairy helps to conserve heat.

    How kind of Konrad Lorenz. His books show a real love for the creatures he studied.

    I'd be uncomfortable with that girl, even as a male human who has not quite forgotten his youth.

  3. Agreed about this human female, but Zeus was a bit a of a So-and-So.

  4. Buff-tailed Bumblebee colonies now exist through the winter at least in urban areas- this is a relatively recent phenomenon. I've been seeing small numbers throughout the winter even active on the coldest days. They only thrive thanks to exotic species in our parks+ gardens as there are few natives to support them, Species such as Mahonia, hellebores + Clematis cirrhosa are popular in the winter.

  5. What about the Tawny Owls? Are they still around the park?

    1. Yes, but no one has been able to find their regular places during the day, despite much searching.

  6. So; heading off to the far end of the island you live in for a pointless scuffle with a neighbour with whom you have much in common, and in which nothing is achieved. It's a good job I'm inoculated against both allegory and irony.

  7. "Leda and the Swan" (W.B. Yeats)

    A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
    Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
    By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
    He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

    How can those terrified vague fingers push
    The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
    And how can body, laid in that white rush,
    But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

    A shudder in the loins engenders there
    The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
    And Agamemnon dead.
    Being so caught up,
    So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
    Did she put on his knowledge with his power
    Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

    1. We are none of us inoculated against allegory. But before soliciting a swan, it would be a good idea to check its sex.