Friday 6 December 2019

It was a dark grey morning, and the brightest thing on view was a pink plastic buoy with a Black-Headed Gull standing on it.

Another gull dived into a fountain in the Italian Garden but came up with nothing more than a strand of algae.

A Tufted Duck on the Long Water investigated a gold balloon. I was expecting it to push the thorny bramble stem on to it and get the fright of its life when it burst, but the lucky bird managed not to.

No sign of a Wigeon on the Round Pond today, though there were several Gadwalls and Shovellers. Two female Shovellers fed together.

The Black Swan has an amazing ability to bend its neck in several directions at once.

A Pied Wagtail hunted around the edge of the pond, looking for edible creatures in the puddles made by the little waves breaking over the kerb.

A pair of Egyptians enjoyed a noisy display beside the Serpentine.

Blondie washed and preened her unusual ash-grey wings. She seldom goes more than 100 yards from the patch of scrub where she was hatched, so her fine strong wings don't get much use.

A Coot on the Long Water couldn't help picking up a twig. Their nest-building instinct is unstoppable even outside the nesting season.

Another on the Serpentine more sensibly checked a plastic bag for possible food.

A Moorhen browsed among floating leaves.

Tom went to Wallasea island, where he found a Merlin and managed to get a distant shot of the fierce little bird.

A Short-Eared Owl obligingly flew past.

Another fine picture by Tom of sunset over the Thames at Rainham Marshes.


  1. Blondie! Long time no see! Glad to see she is looking very beautiful. I wonder if she knows that she was born there and doesn't want to stray far from her "home".

    Perhaps the gull liked the bright colour and decided to go and stand on it.

    Swan necks are things of wonder.

    1. Blondie is the most stick-in-the-mud bird you could imagine. Once she spread her magnificent wings and visited the Round Pond, and immediately decided she didn't like it and returned to her usual place, since when she has never left it again.

    2. My grandfather, who fought at the Battle of the Ebro, always used to say that none was happier than those who never left their village in their whole life.

    3. Je me fais vieux, j’ai soixante ans,
      J’ai travaillé toute ma vie,
      Sans avoir, durant tout ce temps.
      Pu satisfaire mon envie.
      Je vois bien qu’il n’est ici-bas
      De bonheur complet pour personne.
      Mon vœu ne s’accomplira pas:
      Je n’ai jamais vu Carcassonne!

      On voit la ville de là-haut,
      Derrière les montagnes bleues;
      Mais, pour y parvenir, il faut,
      Il faut faire cinq grandes lieues;
      En faire autant pour revenir!
      Ah ! si la vendange était bonne!
      Le raisin ne veut pas jaunir :
      Je ne verrai pas Carcassonne !

      On dit qu’on y voit tous les jours,
      Ni plus ni moins que les dimanches,
      Des gens s’en aller sur le cours,
      En habits neufs, en robes blanches.
      On dit qu’on y voit des châteaux
      Grands comme ceux de Babylone,
      Un évèque et deux généraux!
      Je ne connais pas Carcassonne!

      Le vicaire a cent fois raison:
      C’est des imprudents que nous sommes.
      Il disait dans son oraison
      Que l’ambition perd les hommes.
      Si je pouvais trouver pourtant
      Deux jours sur la fin de l’automne…
      Mon Dieu ! que je mourrais content
      Après avoir vu Carcassonne!

      Mon Dieu! mon Dieu! pardonnez-moi
      Si ma prière vous offense;
      On voit toujours plus haut que soi,
      En vieillesse comme en enfance.
      Ma femme, avec mon fils Aignan,
      A voyagé jusqu’à Narbonne;
      Mon filleul a vu Perpignan,
      Et je n’ai pas vu Carcassonne!

      Ainsi chantait, près de Limoux,
      Un paysan courbé par l’âge.
      Je lui dis: « Ami, levez-vous;
      Nous allons faire le voyage.
      Nous partîmes le lendemain;
      Mais (que le bon Dieu lui pardonne!)
      Il mourut à moitié chemin:
      Il n’a jamais vu Carcassonne!

      --- Gustave Nadaud