Monday, 3 February 2020

There is going to be furious competition among the Mute Swans for nest sites on the Serpentine island. Since the pool was made in the middle, the gate in the wire fence has been kept closed to stop swans from getting in and destroying the newly planted reeds. This restricts swans to a narrow band around the edge, which may allow just two nests at opposite ends of the island. One swan chased another off.

A Moorhen watched the scene unmoved -- not its quarrel.

The Grey Heron nesting on the south side of the island was still restless in the nest, getting up several times. It seems odd when you consider how long they can stand motionless when fishing.

On the other side, three herons stood in a row on the posts.

A Great Crested Grebe did nothing, with great style.

Gadwall drakes are very smart in an understated way, like a gentleman in his country tweeds.

Momchil Vesselinov took this remarkable picture of the two Little Owls near the Albert Memorial together on a branch at sunset.

There were plenty of Redwings on the Parade Ground ...

... and a single Mistle Thrush. It seems remarkable that the worms they hunt are still alive after being buried under solid plates for more than two months.

A Song Thrush sang in the Flower Walk. These are the bits of song audible between outbursts of shrieking by the invasive Rose-Ringed Parakeets and traffic noise from the busy Kensington Road.

A female Blackbird perched on the tatty plywood fence of the Lido.

The shy Coal Tit in the leaf yard flitted from twig to twig, wanting a pine nut put on the railings but not daring to come down and take it.

Tom got a fine picture of a Goldcrest.

There is something strangely satisfying about seeing a Wood Pigeon reach too far for an ivy berry and fall down.

Winter aconites are coming out in the Dell.

On the subject of yesterday's House Sparrow in Kensington Gardens, here is a map of air pollution by nitrogen dioxide in central London. The dirtiest parts correspond quite closely with the areas devoid of sparrows. Perhaps by mere coincidence, there is a moderately clean patch in Kensington Gardens where the sparrow was. This page also shows maps for three other pollutants, with much the same distribution.


  1. I never though I'd see a bird be foolish and live.

    Strange that air pollution should be killing sparrows off, but there is no way to interpret the map otherwise. In Madrid's case it's rather a matter of birds running out of places to nest in and losing precious food resources.

    Isn't the Grebe looking splendid while doing exactly nothing! That's an art few have.

    1. There is a peculiar quotation attributed to Confucius, 'There is no spectacle more agreeable than to observe an old friend fall from a rooftop.' Cruel. But if the friend has wings you can laugh.

  2. Thanks for sharing the Little Owls. The one on top looks the larger, or is that illusory? And I never tire of those Woodpigeon-berry misadventures. Jim

    1. Yes, females are considerably larger than males, and in the other pair near the Henry Moore the difference is greater. She isn't on top, she's beside and behind him on the same branch.