Saturday 28 December 2019

Another very dark day, and it was hard to get even moderately good pictures. Still, the female Little Owl was in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial ...

... and the female Peregrine was back on the barracks tower.

The male had been visible earlier, but by the time I arrived he had either flown away or gone to the back of the ledge.

A young Herring Gull struggled to keep its balance on a buoy at the Lido.

A Common Gull had found a much better buoy on the Round Pond, though shortly after I took this picture it was knocked off by a Herring Gull.

Shovellers have left the Long Water and the Serpentine, but there are still a few on the Round Pond.

The Black Swan stood proudly on the edge, the undisputed ruler of the pond whom none of the larger Mute Swans here dares to challenge.

I used to be puzzled by how the Mute Swans that sometimes flew into the Italian Garden fountains managed to leave. This video shows a swan going down the steps, squeezing through the railings, and jumping first into the lower basin of the marble fountain and then (unfortunately screened by the fountain) dropping from there into the lake.

So far I haven't managed to film a swan getting out of a pool on to the pavement, which involves a headlong rush against an 18 inch high kerb. But with luck I may catch this in the future.

A Pied Wagtail ran along the edge of the Serpentine.

A Dunnock perched in a bush at the back of the Lido.

While I was photographing the Little Owl, the usual Great Tit came over to be fed.

So did a Blue Tit near the bridge.

The number of crayfish in the Serpentine is subject to boom and bust, for unknown reasons. Mateusz at Bluebird Boats keeps an eye on the population by catching them in a net and then releasing them. There are a lot at the moment. They are all Turkish Crayfish. We used to have Signal Crayfish too, but none have been seen since the last big die-off in 2008 caused by accidental contamination of the lake with algicide when the Diana fountain was being cleaned. Both are foreign invasive species -- any native crayfish we had have long since disappeared.

Tom was a Rainham Marshes, where the weather was no brighter but he managed to get two good videos.

Long-Tailed Tits crowded on to a birch trunk. You may wonder why they found it so interesting. The answer is that suet had been pushed into cracks in the bark.

A male Pheasant browsed at the reflection pool.


  1. No day is dark enough that a Little Owl won't brighten it with its loveliness. What we'd do without them.

    I wonder what makes Black Swans such fearsome individuals. Perhaps they had to grow stroppier than European swans to survive in Australia, that land where every animal and their mother, even chlamydia-ridden koalas, wants to kill you.

    Dying to watch the headlong rushing swan when you catch it. Doubtless Soviet aircraft designers would have been plenty interested, as the maneuvre would be perfectly up their alley. ("Surely he's not going to...? oh yes he did, and it worked").

    1. If you can imagine an Ekranoplan crashing at full speed into a wall and somehow bouncing over it undamaged, you have a fair idea of how the swans get out of the fountain pools. It looks suicidal, but the thickness of their feathers seems to save them from injury.

    2. Swans are the USSR of the avian world!