Sunday 1 December 2019

Another sunny morning brought the female Little Owl at the Albert Memorial out to the front of the pair's hole. It was cold, and she had fluffed herself up as much as possible.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits flew past, one of several seen today.

A Starling shone in the sunlight.

It wasn't clear what attracted a small flock of Rose-Ringed Parakeets to this tree, but a closer look showed that leaf buds were just beginning to develop and the birds were eating them.

Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, Common Gulls and Black-Headed Gulls massed on the moored pedalos of Bluebird Boats, whose unfortunate staff have to jet wash the boats every morning before they can be hired out.

Five species in a row on the posts at Peter Pan: Black-Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Grey Heron and Cormorant.

Both the youngest Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water are alive and well. One was fishing with a parent near Peter Pan, and this one was by itself under a bush near the Italian Garden.

Whatever the time of year, Coots will be fighting.

One of the rescued young Mute Swans cruised through some dead leaves on the Serpentine.

A few more Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water -- but only a few. A few years ago we used to get at least 50 every winter. However, there were 108 in Richmond Park on Thursday.

There's a winter migrant flock of about 40 Common Pochards on the Long Water, but this resident bird never goes near them and feeds on the other side of the bridge.

The sunlight showed off the green and purple sheen on the head of a Tufted drake.

A pair of Egyptian Geese displayed noisily on the Henry Moore sculpture, and two Jackdaws came up to see what all the racket was about.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, and got a fine shot of a large flock of Dunlins wheeling in front of the viaduct that carries the Eurostar to the Channel Tunnel.


  1. Extraordinary picture of the five different species posing together companionably.

    I imagine there is no way to cover the boats with some kind of tarpaulin or canvas cover. I wish some solution may be found, since the folks at Blue Boats are such dear good people.

    The picture of the flock of Dunlins is amazing! For a Tolkien freak like me, the name Dunling always reminds me of the Dunlendings, the men from Dunland, the Brown Land.

    1. The name Dunlin is the same as 'dunling', a little brown thing. Its scientific name Calidris alpina is curious for a bird found almost exclusively on the sea coast.

    2. Apparently Dunlin breed in upland and tundra, but much further north than the Alps. So still odd that Linné called it alpina, and the Tree Sparrow Passer montanus, though the latter has no particular association with mountains. Indeed I saw tame Tree Sparrows in a town centre in southern Sweden. Jim.

    3. And how did Linnaeus come to call a Wren 'Troglodytes', a dweller in holes or caves? He actually first named it Motacilla troglodytes, a member of a large genus including wagtails and warblers which has since been split, but the suggestion of hole dwelling is still there, and now twice in its modern classification as Troglodytes troglodytes. (And just as odd for the Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes.)

    4. I think I recall reading that Greeks (or Phoenicians) when exploring the African coast claimed to have found weirdly shaped humans that lived in caves and screeched like bats (the troglodytai from Herodotus). I've read that they may have been chimpanzees.

    5. BTW τρωγλοδύτης is how ancient Greeks called Wrens. I guess Linnaeus was just following suit. Greeks had the oddest ideas about birds' hiding places (they thought that Swallows sleeped under water in winter and that was why they were not seen in wintertime).

    6. Thanks for the very interesting information on the Wren. I can't find the quotation on the web, but Boswell reports that Dr Johnson believed that Swallows behaved in this way, and the Doctor said something like 'They conglobe into a ball and hurl themselves under the surface of rivers and streams.'