Tuesday 24 December 2019

Three Grey Herons were wandering around the island and one of them stood in a nest left over from last year. They are definitely showing signs of wanting to nest, something that these herons do very early though it's an on-off business at first.

A Coot was also building a nest, on the dead willow tree at the north end of the Long Water. Unlike the herons, it's probably not going to have a serious attempt at breeding for some time. Coots' instinct to build nests is unstoppable and apt to kick in at any time.

There were signs of the beginning of another Coot nest in the fallen willow at the bridge, but a Mallard had taken over the site.

The fighting instinct of Coots is also unstoppable. Two were at it again oin the Serpentine ...

... and another was having a faceoff with a Moorhen at Peter Pan. Unsurprisingly, the Moorhen backed down.

The dominant male Mute Swan at the west end of the Serpentine was showing off to keep the other swans subdued.

A little fleet of Tufted drakes idled beside the landing stage.

A Herring Gull ate a crayfish on the island.

Young gulls love to play with toys -- stones, feathers, bits of wood, anything they can find. This is a useful training for adult life as a snatcher of food: they learn how different things fall and how to grab them.

After yesterday's picture of one of our two Polish Black-Headed Gulls, here's the other one, T4UN, which was on a post at Peter Pan. It was ringed as a chick on 14 June 2012 at Truskaw by Adam Olszewski and Stanisław Matuszewski.

A Carrion Crow found a mysterious object in the grass and played with it for a minute. It didn't seem to be edible.

A Jackdaw trotted up the path to get a peanut.

The male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial appeared at the front of the hole in the afternoon.

You may notice that this picture is closer and sharper than previous ones of the owl in this place. This was my first day with a new camera, a mirrorless Sony α7R IV with a Sony FE 200--600mm zoom lens. I haven't by any means got the hang of it yet, but it's already producing impressive results.


  1. Dear Ralph, I saw what looked like a terrapin sunning itself on a log by the reeds between Peter Pan and the Italian Gardens this afternoon. I have seen plenty of terrapins on the Regents Canal in recent years but this was the first one I had spotted one in the Long Water/Serpentine. Are they common there and do you know how much damage they cause to our resident water birds?
    Happy Christmas, Ralph, and thank you for your wonderful and informative blog.

    1. Yes, there have been terrapins on the Long Water for some years. They are Red-Eared sliders. At one point there were five. I don't know how far they contribute to the very low survival rate of ducklings, but it can't be good.

  2. Congratulations on the new camera! The Little Owl picture is indeed sharp as sharp can be!

    Gulls and their thieving ways never disappoint: anything that exists can be turned into a thieving opportunity.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  3. My goodness, the new camera gives startling results. Well done.