Sunday, 2 February 2020

Sparrows have vanished from a wide area of central London and are only seen very rarely. Neil found this female in Kensington Gardens and took a video on his phone.

The Redwings on the Parade Ground wouldn't come near, and this rather distant shot was the best I could get.

A Carrion Crow near the bridge has taken to cawing loudly and annoyingly till it's fed. When it gets a peanut it opens and eats it in seconds and starts cawing again.

A Magpie in the top of the yew tree looked down disdainfully on the spectacle.

This Jay followed us along the path touting for peanuts. It already had one in its crop, but wanted more.

Jackdaws are polite birds, and just come out and look hopeful. This gets them all the peanuts they want.

A Mute Swan in one of the Italian Garden pools used the fountain as a shower to help it have a good wash.

There were also two Moorhens under the same fountain, but getting thoroughly wet is part of their normal routine.

A Moorhen on the Long Water amused itself by climbing up a branch.

A Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine looked with mild interest at three humans trying to take its picture.

There were eight Grey Herons on the island. One of them was picking twigs to build up a nest.

Four stood on the shore.

Two young Herring Gulls repeatedly dived into the lake. They seemed to be getting some small food item, but they also dive to pick up sticks and stones to play with.

I really don't know what's going on here. The swan was not amused.


  1. Oh my God a swanfight! I hope the swan charged them.

    Congratulations on getting the sparrow on camera. They are resilient and resourceful little creatures; if given the least foothold they'll do the rest of the work to come back.

    I think the Crow has taken a page from Fidel Castro's book of political negotiation: let your cigar stink up the place for long enough and they'll agree to anything.

    That Grebe is clearly thinking, those wacky humans!

    1. Yes, I thought of bullfighting when I saw that madwoman waving her coat around. But swans are different. It took no notice and walked slowly away. (Incidentally, did you know that cattle can't see red? The toreador's cape looks grey to them. But they see yellow as dazzlingly bright, and a yellow cape would probably make the bull run away.)

      It's thought that the loss of Sparrows in central London is caused by air pollution, though it's not known which pollutant is to blame. The population, already in decline, vanished suddenly around 2000 soon after unleaded petrol was introduced, and it is possible that the benzene in this stuff poisoned them.

    2. Yes, I've heard matadors say fighting bulls don't see the colour red, but rather shades of grey. They actually have very poor eyeshight, like rhinoceros. It's certain types of movements, like a cape flapping, that drives them mad and makes them charge.

      I am reminded of a German couple who tried to pet a native cow species called Avileña. They seem peaceful, but movement makes them mad. It was only by God's miracle that they didn't end up gutted.

    3. Just looked up the Avileña. It looks pretty fierce.

  2. A few years ago I approached a flock of House Sparrows by Brent Reservoir and likewise they were hugging bramble and skittish, as if a different species to those of old. Well I'm thoroughly convinced by the claim that this is all down to vanishing nest sites and seed grasses. Not.

    The swan experiment might actually work with a peacock and a royal blue satin sheet in spring or summer, then they would know about it. Jim

    1. The park is full of bramble patches and many species of grasses. It supports many birds with similar needs to those of House Sparrows. Something else is the cause of their decline, and my money is on some ingredient of the filthy air.