Monday 11 February 2019

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet ate the small flowers on a yew twig. All parts of the plant are poisonous except for the red fleshy part of the fruit, but parakeets seem strangely resistant to the toxin.

The female Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture came out of her hole to enjoy the morning sunshine.

The pair of Egyptian Geese under the sculpture have lost all their goslings yet again, and were sitting sadly under the stone memorial to their lost hopes.

Both Peregrines were on the barracks tower, closer together than usual and calling to each other. Are they thinking of breeding? This tower is only a day roost, and their main quarters are on an even higher building and completely unphotographable.

Below the tower is the site of the Crystal Palace. This prefabricated iron and glass structure, which housed the Great Exhibition of 1851, occupied a vast flat area in Hyde Park. After the building was dismantled and moved to Sydenham, the site remained empty and is now football fields, desolate and soggy. Just the place to appeal to a Pied Wagtail in its endless quest for insects.

A Blackbird found a worm under an acanthus plant. The shapely leaves of this plant can be seen modelled in the Corinthian capitals of classical buildings worldwide.

This capital, on the nymphaeum next to the Italian Garden, is actually of the Composite order, with an Ionic top and a Corinthian lower section, but it has plenty of acanthus leaves.

The Italian Garden water nymphs have got badly eroded in the 158 years since they were installed. A Black-Headed Gull looked up from one of them.

A group of Blue Tits searched for insects under a California Bay tree, one of the many exotic imported trees in the park.

A Grey Heron had caught a perch in the Dell. It couldn't swallow the fish immediately, as a perch has a spiny dorsal fin and has to be turned round to be swallowed head first. The heron took it away to eat in privacy.

Two herons looked warily at a passing group of French students. These dangerous predators roam the park unchecked.

The Red-Crested Pochard drake and his Mallard mate retain possession of the rock in the Long Water until some bigger bird comes and chases them off.

A Moorhen couldn't resist the temptation to climb to the top of an upright twig.

The pair of Great Crested Grebes at the east end of the island have started building a nest in a new place under a bush. They may be serious about it. This pair does sometimes nest in early spring, unlike the other grebes which wait till summer when the fish supply is better.

Bad news for grebes: the Phoslock people are back.

They are about to dump tons of bentonite, an adsorbent clay, laced with lanthanum, a slightly radioactive substance, into the lake in an attempt to reduce the growth of algae. This makes the water muddy and opaque for about three days. The last time this was tried was in 2012, before the Olympic swimming events were held in the park, and the result was that the Little Grebes left and were not seen again for many months. As for the efficacy of this treatment, all I can say is that a couple of weeks after it was tried, a spell of warm weather produced a huge growth of algae which had to be cut back by a huge floating chopping and dredging machine so that the swimmers didn't get entangled in it. The lake gets a lot of algae because it is shallow and quickly warmed by sunshine, and no chemical treatment is going to do anything about that.

The trees around Bluebird Boats are infested with helium balloons. Yesterday there was a wake for a rapper who had died -- judging by the balloons his name began with B -- and a mass of balloons were released imprudently close to the trees, so that some of them got caught.


  1. Regarding the bentonite and the helium balloons, there is a very apposite Spanish saying: "No cabe un tonto más" (there are so many fools there is no room for more).

    Those Herons look capable of taking care of themselves against any horde.

    Poor Egyptian parents. Poor fools. They look like the picture of desolation.

    1. The park management has a history of falling prey to bizarre schemes. Before this they employed another German firm called Plocher, who tipped small quantities of quartz sand into the lake, activated in some way that sounded very like crystal therapy. I looked at the firm's web site and couldn't make sense of it.

  2. This is not the original pair of Egyptians at Henry Moore, with the blonde female, are they still about? Jim

    1. You're right. The original pair used and abandoned this place, and are now mostly seen around the Italian Garden. This pair has been near the Henry Moore for three or four years, breeding several times without success.