Saturday 6 June 2020

The day starrted sunny and Clive Murgatroyd, who visited the park early, got the best of today's pictures. A Great Crested Grebe came ashore, something they rarely do.

A Red Kite drifted high overhead.

The Reed Bunting sang near the Diana fountain.

By the time I arrived it was starting to rain, though the Little Owl was still in the alder tree for a rather dark picture.

Swifts and House Martins raced low over the Serpentine.

A Great Crested Grebe looked for small fish in the shallow water at the edge.

There is another Coot nest on the pedalos. The Coots will have to be evicted, as the staff at Bluebird Boats are starting to clean their boats before reopening.

The geese in the park are moulting and most of them can't fly, so a dog on the loose is even more of a threat than usual. But they keep an efficient lookout -- here it is the bird on the left -- and a single movement is enough to send them hurrying to the safety of the water.

Sad to say, the two Mute Swan families on the Serpentine have each lost one cygnet, and are down to five and two respectively.

An Egyptian Goose sheltered her young.

Gadwalls don't care about the rain ...

... and Blackbirds welcome it, as it brings up the worms.

The Pied Wagtail that I filmed yesterday was still hard at work collecting insects for its young.

A Chaffinch picked up spilt seeds under the feeder in the Rose Garden.

A Carrion Crow cawed in the rain.

On the path below, a French mother recited La Fontaine's fable of The Crow and the Fox from memory to her children. I also had to learn this by heart at school.
Le Corbeau et le Renard 
Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l'odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
Et bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau !
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois.
À ces mots, le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie ;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s'en saisit, et dit : Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute.
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute.
Le Corbeau honteux et confus
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu'on ne l'y prendrait plus.
Master Crow, perched on a tree
Held a cheese in his beak.
Master Fox, drawn by the smell
Addressed him something like this:
'Good day, Sir Crow,
How fine you are, how handsome you look!
Truly, if your song
Is the equal of your plumage
You are the Phoenix of the denizens of the wood.'
At these words, the Crow was beside himself with joy;
And to show off his beautiful voice
He opened his big beak, and dropped his prize.
The Fox seized it and said, 'Good Sir,
Learn that every flatterer
Lives at the expense of his hearer.
This lesson is well worth a cheese, without doubt.'
The Crow, ashamed and confused,
Swore, though rather late, not to be taken in again.
The original Greek version of the fable was related by both Aesop and Phaedrus.


  1. I always found it weird that a Greek should make a Raven look foolish, even if it was a fox that outsmarted it.

    I don't think I have ever seen a Grebe out of the water. What an extraordinary picture! How well do they walk? Like Ducks, like Geese, or rather like Swans?

    What an efficient surveillance system the Geese have in place!

    1. Grebes stagger rather than walk. The strong muscles in their legs are arranged for moving at right angles to the direction required for walking. I've seen one try to run on ice when it was going from one bit of clear water to another. It fell over at once.

  2. I've not yet seen a Red Kite over London. Usually have to go to northern Home Counties (Bucks, Herts etc; plenty there) for them. Mind you, I've lately seen (or heard, more often than not) sparrows in more inner parts of London than for a long while. Couldn't have been the relatively short 'lockdown' that made them return? And have I just missed the Kites, or are they new here?

    1. I've seen Red Kites over the park several times in the past few years as they get commoner.

      I think there may be a House Sparrow in the shrubbery at the SW corner of the bridge, only 100 yards from the bramble clump where Neil videoed one several months ago before the world went mad. I've heard chirping but not yet managed to see it. One of the effects of Boris Johnson's economic disaster is that the air is now much cleaner, and this may be bringing them back for a while.

    2. Just as I was thinking. Hope it lasts, sparrow-wise.

  3. Some great photos Ralph. Love those youngsters huddling for shelter & was I pleased for that downpour yesterday evening!

    Never seen Great-crested Grebe on land like that before-looks quite surreal!

    As for Red Kites- they are now a common everyday bird here in the western suburbs & I see them over the garden most days-sometimes several! It's only in the last 2 years they've been so frequent. Now the commonest raptor here. We do well for raptors here & I've had 7 species over the garden since lockdown, though the Marsh Harrier was exceptional & unprecedented.

    1. It will be interesting to see if Red Kites can re-establish themselves as common London scavengers, as they were till the 18th century.