Sunday 28 July 2019

This is the familiar pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

I saw him dive into the shallow water at the edge of the Serpentine and started filming as he brought a crayfish ashore. It took him just over a minute to dismantle it. The feathers on his face are now looking a bit tattered, possibly as a result of earlier encounters with crayfish, whose numbers have only recently bounced back after a mass die-off a couple of years ago. By the way, it's a Turkish crayfish, an invasive species. There have also been American Signal crayfish in the lake, but these have not yet recovered.

The crayfish was only an hors d'oeuvre for his main course of a pigeon, which he caught only five minutes later, and when I got to his usual territory near the Dell restaurant he was already eating it.

As for the dessert course, I have already seen gulls eating ice cream here, and it must be only a matter of time before they get the idea of snatching it out of cones in people's hands, as they are already doing in some places.

The Great Crested Grebe chick at the island is still being fed, although its parents are now nesting again. We are worried about what will happen when the eggs hatch. It is far from old enough to fish for itself.

The two chicks on the Long Water are keeping their parents busy enough not to think about nesting again.

The nest under the willow near the bridge is still a going concern. There will be very good views of the chicks when the eggs hatch.

A Coot nest under a bush at the edge of the Vista has produced one chick. There are probably more to come.

The two Mallard ducklings were at Peter Pan with their mother.

I didn't see the family of five. Their mother keeps them well hidden most of the time.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was in a place that was very hard to see, and I had to wait for the wind to blow the leaves aside before I could snatch a hasty shot. This is the female.

A Grey Wagtail appeared briefly on the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall, then flew away and I could hear it calling as it left the park, heading south.

Probably the reason why we see them so seldom is that they simply aren't here. A flight through the gap between the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the flats pompously named 'Number One Hyde Park' takes them straight down Sloane Street and Lower Sloane Street to Chelsea Bridge, where there is a small colony of Grey Wagtails around the old coal wharf.

Two Blackbirds in the Rose Garden are now coming to be given sultanas. They must be a pair, as otherwise they would be fighting.

A young Blackbird perched in one of the rowan trees on Buck Hill but didn't seem very interested in the fruit, which is still unripe and hard.

But some bird has been eating it, as you can see. Rose-Ringed Parakeets and Wood Pigeons are much less fussy about the ripeness of fruit.

A Wood Pigeon balanced precariously on a twig while trying to eat elderberries on another twig. It just managed not to fall out of the bush, which Wood Pigeons often do.

The first bird I heard and saw this morning was a Greenfinch high up on a television aerial. They are making a welcome return after being badly hit by a respiratory disease.

Two Buff-Tailed Bumblebees landed on opposite sides of an eryngium flower in the Rose Garden.


  1. So that's an elderberry! When I was learning English I was extremely puzzled by the meaning of the insult "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!". Perhaps that's what you get when you believe, in your naivete, that Monty Python are faithful representatives of spoken English.

    Would it be possible to rescue the grebe chick, if it was abandoned? Are there wildlife hospitals or charities that may take it in?

    1. I don't think the grebe chick can be rescued.They are said to die of misery in captivity. It has to take its slim chances.

      Monty Python's unreliable phrase book -- 'My hovercraft is full of eels, I want to fondle your bum' -- is probably inspired by Pedro Carolino's New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English, of which excerpts were published in a booklet named English as She is Spoke: 'The paving stone is sliphery, The thunderbolt is falling down, The rose-trees begins to button, The ears are too length, The hands itch at him, Have you forgeted me?, Lay him hir apron, Help-to a little most the better yours terms, Dont you are awaken yet? That should must me to cost my life ...'.

  2. Love watching that with Woodpigeons at this time of year, likewise for laurel berries which are finally gaining colour. Jim

    1. Remarkable that Wood Pigeons can eat laurel berries, which are full of cyanide. I have heard that Feral Pigeons can eat deadly nightshade with impunity.