Friday 22 February 2019

It was a beautiful warm day and the park was full of people, which makes birds stay in the background. But there was a Pied Wagtail trotting boldly along the edge of the Serpentine looking for insect larvae.

I also saw, for the second time, a Grey Wagtail flying out of the park near the Dell, heading for a gap in the buildings which would have taken it down Sloane Street. If it kept on that course it would reach the Thames at Chelsea Bridge, just a few yards upstream from the colony of Grey Wagtails near the old coal wharf that once served the fine Beaux-Arts sewage pumping station. This strengthens my belief that the Hyde Park Grey Wagtails, which come and go unpredictably, are an outlier of that colony.

The Redwings were chattering in the trees on the Parade Ground.

The male Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was in another very awkward place on the lime tree, where he had to be photographed from a great distance through the twigs of an alder.

I'm trying to get a picture of the Great Tits near the bridge prettily framed in pussy willow catkins, but they refuse to perch in the right places on the tree.

Tom went back to Crossness for another difficult bit of photography, getting a picture of the Penduline Tit in the reed bed, where it never comes to the front and pictures have to be snatched through gaps in the stems. He got an almost perfect shot.

David Element was in the park and pulled off the notable feat of capturing an early Brimstone butterfly standing still on a leaf. They are very active creatures and hardly ever stop, and I have never been able to get a picture of one.

He also got a picture of a Black-Headed Gull chasing another that was holding a bit of reed -- not an edible item, but gulls also covet each other's toys.

This Common Gull with unusually bright yellow legs always stands in exactly the same place on the edge of the Serpentine. It's only when a gull has some conspicuous feature that you start to notice its habits.

The fire brigade were practising using their equipment on the edge of the Serpentine. The water was coming down uncomfortably near the Grey Herons' nest with chick in it. I had a word with them and they quickly moved it out of the way.

But there was more danger. The heron in the nest left later, temporarily abandoning the chicks which were in danger from the nearby Carrion Crows. It was lured out because the herons were being fed on the shore. Feeding herons near an occupied nest endangers eggs and chicks -- please don't do it. The once thriving heronry in Regent's Park has been reduced to a pitiful state by crow predation.

Luckily this time the parent heron returned before any harm came to the chicks.

A Cormorant at Peter Pan stared severely at the camera with its strange blue-green eyes. There are now only a few Cormorants on the lake, a sign that they have eaten almost all the fish.

A Great Crested Grebe dozed next to the willow by the bridge, where it is guarding a future nest site.

Two pairs of Moorhens were exploring the water plants in the Italian Garden fountains, and it looks as if they are planning to nest here soon. They can have three broods a year if they start early.

On a warm sunny afternoon, a Gadwall drake dozed while his mate preened.

An Egyptian Goose was also preening its large shining wings.

A male Mute Swan was courting a teenager far too young to breed. He should have known better.

Marie Gill saw two Magpies chasing a bat yesterday towards sunset near the north end of the bridge. The bat effortlessly eluded them. It's early in the year for bats to be out, but everything's early this year.


  1. Still haven't seen a butterfly yet but have found Brimstones in late summer when the new individuals are out easy to photograph where there are flowers of Everlasting Pea. The long proboscis of this species easily access the flower. When I go to Ranmore Common/Denbies hillside there is quite a lot of this along the carriage way though quite a bit has been sprayed off as the species is considered invasive. Hope they leave some for the Brimstone + any Long-tailed Blues that wander this way!

    Tom did well with the Penduline Tit photo. Used to be my bogey bird for many years in the UK despite seeing them in Europe. Finally caught up with one at Stodmarsh some years back.

    1. Brimstones are always the first in the park. It's absurdly early, of course, but everything's early this year. David Element said he had already seen a Red Admiral somewhere else.

  2. Ralph, thanks for highlighting the plight of the Regent's Park heronry. Feeding the Heron's does the birds no favours. They aren't social birds and the feeding of Crows has resulted in a decline in the successful hatching and rearing of waterfowl.

    1. It was the wretched Winter Wonderland that caused Carrion Crows to move to the Serpentine in large numbers. Before then they mostly stayed in their colony in the NW corner of the park.

  3. I didn't know about the dangers for the Herons from feeding them, but of course it stands to reason. Good thing too that the fire brigade would be persuaded: had anyone tried to do that here, they would merely arch their brow and laugh.

    Great Tits do exactly as they wish, which tends to be the opposite of what we'd with them to do.

    On the subject of Magpies chasing bats- this one got the technique down pat. I am sorry for the poor little bats (swits can be heard in the background)

    1. Remarkable video. The Magpie would get more bats if it could stay still like a fishing heron, but I think that position hanging over the edge of the roof must be uncomfortable for it.