Sunday 15 December 2019

A cold bright Sunday brought a lot of visitors to the park, but that didn't daunt the hungry small birds coming out to be fed. This Robin at the leaf yard is a regular customer ...

... and so are the Coal Tits ...

... and Blue Tits next to the bridge.

The female Peregrine was on the barracks. I haven't seen the male for a while, but Peregrine pairs are not very sociable with each other outside the breeding season.

A Lesser Black-Backed Gull on the Long Water was eating a Turkish crayfish. I suppose there are crayfish in the Long Water as well as in the Serpentine, but this is the first evidence I've seen of one here.

A young Herring Gull on the Serpentine probed a plastic bag for something edible, but was disappointed.

When a gull has a distinctive characteristic, such as the unusually bright yellow legs of this Common Gull, you notice how conservative they are about where they stand. The gull is always within a couple of yards of the same spot on the north shore of the Serpentine between the island and the Dell restaurant.

The line of wooden posts and chains in front of the Peter Pan statue was originally put in to prevent people in boats from going farther up the Long Water. The barrier has now been moved back to the bridge and the whole of the Long Water is off limits. But the posts and some chains remain and provide a splendid perch for Cormorants, gulls and whatever else happens to be around -- and a fine view for us.

All the posts being occupied, a Black-Headed Gull preened its belly while perched on a small stick. The result ws a bit shaggy, no doubt it smoothed down.

Three Black-Headed Gulls on the Round Pond vied for a bit of bread.

Joan Chatterley sent a picture of the young Black Swan in St James's Park, now with fully developed wings although it has shown no sign of wanting to fly yet. The white flight feathers have dark tips. Black melanin pigment makes the feathers stronger and less likely to fray, and it's common for pale flight feathers to have dark tips -- as in the previous photograph.

But when the swan gets its next set of flight feathers they will be all white. It's odd that only the feathers on a Black Swan that actually need melanin haven't got any. But the bird is from Australia and they do things differently there.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond was at the front of the crowd as usual. It's a few months older than the one in St James's Park, and obviously already flying as that's how it arrived.

This is an immature Shoveller drake at the Vista, only months old. He will have to wait till next year for his showy breeding plumage.

A Tufted drake looked very dapper in the sunshine, which brought out the fine green and purple iridescence on his head.


  1. That Tufted drake is a most elegant fellow. It almost looks like it is wearing a dinner jacket.

    Australia does everything the weird way, it seems.

    It always amazes me how gulls are able to hold on to such small perches with their weak webbed feet. I wonder if there is anything a gull cannot do well.

    1. Gulls' little feet are their weak point. If the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had stronger feet he would be the terror of the earth. He is cleverer than any raptor and his beak is strong, but it his only weapon.

  2. Stunning photo of the drake Tufted Duck. I do find these birds to be real characters. what are their numbers like in the park as I'm seeing relatively few on the sites I regularly visit this season?

    1. Numbers of Tufted Duck in the park are quite healthy and rising. Unsure to what extent they migrate, but in my last count on 18 November I found 102.

  3. That's quite a good count. We do usually get extra birds in the winter.