Thursday, 9 May 2019

It was an English spring day.

When I saw this bird flitting around between the reed bed and the bushes near the Diana memorial, I though it was the female Reed Bunting that Tom saw here on 3 May. Then I thought it was a female Whinchat, as it is quite strongly marked around the face, with pale eyebrows. But the pictures show the less strongly marked face of a rather dark female Stonechat.

It doesn't look like the female Stonechat that was in the Meadow on 11 March. But it does look like the bird seen by Sergey Anpilov on Buck Hill on 18 March. The angle of the light make a lot of difference to one's impression.

Update: Conehead54 is pretty certain that it's a Whinchat, and some have been seen recently around London. He's more likely to be right than me.

A Pied Wagtail stood on the rain-soaked edge of the Round Pond.

It ran after insects on the ground and leapt into the air to catch them as they flew.

Swifts zoomed low over the water.

A Carrion Crow at the leaf yard was eating a Feral Pigeon.

Probably the pigeon had died of natural causes.

Grey Herons lined up on the shore next to the island. They second and third from the left here are the two young ones from the nearby nest, now taking their place among the adults. It looks as if they've successfully got through the dangerous stage of first having to feed themselves.

The Coots nesting at the bridge, which had two chicks and three unhatched eggs yesterday, now have only one chick and one egg, and part of their nest, on the far side of this view, has been broken off. Evidently they have suffered quite a heavy attack, maybe by a Grey Heron.

A Great Crested Grebe fished around the nest, seriously annoying the Coot.

The grebe chick on the Long Water, which is always on the east side and very hard to photograph, appeared for a moment through a gap in the bushes. It's quite big now.

The Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond, with eight goslings of their own and two adopted ones, have been amazingly lucky so far. The young ones follow their mother quite obediently, the key to survival.

This is the hopelessly incompetent pair of Egyptian Geese which have been in the park for 17 years -- the first Egyptians to arrive -- and, despite constant breeding attempts, have never managed to raise a single gosling. Their latest brood is reduced to one ...

... and now they are getting into trouble with the dominant Mute Swan at the north end of the Long Water.

The second brood of Egyptians on the Serpentine is growing up fast. At this stage they have very long legs in relation to their body.

The overcrowding of Mute Swans in the park is now forcing them to try to nest in the most unsuitable places. This is beside a public path at the Lido, exposed to every passing dog and feral child. I hope they soon realise their mistake and give up.

The marble fountain on the edge of the Italian Garden, ornate with tritons, nymphs and swans, has been out of order for some time, but is now working again. The layoff has allowed some of the heavy growth of green algae to fall off, and it is looking quite good for the time being.


  1. That is quite the lovely fountain. Few if any parks in Europe can match Kensington Gardens in point of beauty.

    I'd like to see one of those Swans meting out justice on feral children.

    Great to see that the goslings and the grebe are growing fast, and are every day inching closer to being out of danger from predators. Not the same thing can be said of the poor Coot's nestlings, unfortunately. Sometimes not even the greatest courage in the world will avail.

    We are heading towards 32ºC over the weekend and it's not even mid-May. Can I please have a few English spring days sent my way? I'm willing to trade.

    1. The Italian Garden, of which this fountain is the principal feature, was hugely influential, causing the new buildings of the 1860s in Kensington and Chelsea just to the south to be built in the style now known as 'Kensington Italianate' -- stucco, architecturally literate classical details. This style spread to other parts of London, notably Bayswater and Notting Hill on the other side of the park. It was not a new style, having been used as early as the 1820s -- see here -- but it was this garden that set off the wave of building.

  2. For me the chat is a definite Whinchat + they are now moving through London. Managed to see one at Richmond Park (there had been two) on Monday.

    1. Yes. I am very uncertain about this. It lacks the hard 'jawline' markings of a typical Whinchat, but the eyebrow looks right for that. Also the little white mark on the fore edge of the wing (alula feathers?) looks Whinchat. The two pictures I published are the lightest and darkest of the five shots I got that were good enough to keep, so you're seeing the full range of what I saw. Will add a note to the blog.

  3. Hi Ralph, Any idea what happened to the grebes that were nesting at the front on the west side of the island? They had at least a chick about 10-12 days ago but today they (or a different pair) were occupying the nest again. It seems they were tending eggs. No sign of a chick. Michael

    1. I've been wondering too. I only saw the chick for two days. I think they've lost it and are nesting again.