Tuesday 11 August 2020

It was another hot day, but the spell is forecast to break up in thunderstorms soon.

A Robin kept cool in the shade of the Rose Garden shrubbery.

A pair of Greylag Geese sheltered under a tree.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull temporarily abandoned his latest kill for a spell in the shade.

A Black-Headed Gull on the Round Pond found a crust and hurried off to eat it in privacy.

The Coots at Peter Pan stayed on their nest in the shadow of an overhanging tree.

A Coot on the Serpentine ate its mate's fleas, combining a gesture of love and a light snack. The other bird was so overwhelmed by the experience that it fell over.

The three Mute Swan cygnets crossed the Long Water in line astern.

Leona Tan photographed four Mallard ducklings on the Round Pond. They were still alive a day later. There was only one big gull of the pond, a Lesser Black-Back, but one gull is enough to eat all of them.

Cormorants are usually shy birds, but this one on the edge of the Serpentine was so intent on drying its wings that if allowed us to come right up to it.

A Grey Heron carefully examined the water in one of the Italian Garden fountains, saw a fish, and lunged for it. Not a perfect catch, as it dropped the fish on the pavement, but the bird got its meal.

As usual, the Long-Tailed Tits ignored the heat and streaked from tree to tree. Getting insects is more important than keeping cool.

A pleasing picture by Mark Williams of a Blue Tit under a Crown Imperial flower.

The Sparrowhawks were out and about, but perched among the leaves so it was impossible to get a picture of a whole bird. Later the adult female could be seen at a considerable height.

Odd cries from the leaf yard turned out to be from a pair of lovebirds that had escaped their owner. People often take their pet birds into the park thinking that they will fly around and come back, only to discover their error. The birds were elusive in the trees, but Tom got a good shot of one. We think it's a Lilian's Lovebird or Nyasa Lovebird, Agapornis lilianae.

A squirrel shaded itself with its tail.

This habit is the origin of both its common name and its scientific name, Latin Sciurus, which comes from from Greek σκίουρος, 'shade-tail', from σκιά, shade,and οὐρά, tail. The Grey Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, has ousted our native Red Squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris.

Tom rescued a very soggy butterfly from the Serpentine. It may have been a Purple Hairstreak -- hard to tell in this condition.

Wasps clustered on an apple that someone had put out for the Rose-Ringed Parakeets.


  1. The squirrel reminds me of the fabled Skiapodes, who would lie down and put their very large feet up in the air to shade themselves.

    I marvel at the tameness of the Cormorant. Cormorants here will make a sharp u-turn as soon as they see humans, even if they are flying very high above.

    I laughed at the boneless Coot. Melted inside, I bet.

    1. The Cormorant's behaviour was very unexpected, even considering the tameness of the birds in the park.

      For the benefit of other readers, here is a medieval woodcut of a Sciapod or Skiapod.

  2. I'm not totally convinced that is a Brown Hairstreak as the image shows a very plain underwing with no white lines nor an obvious tail. Brown Hairstreaks have quite a striking pattern below. I can't think what else it might be though? Has the butterfly ever been recorded in the park? I've never heard of any central London records but is turning up in new places. A sizeable colony now exists near me near Rusilip Gardens.

    We had a thunderstorm yesterday evening for about 20 minutes with some rain about 8pm onwards. Very welcome!

    1. Well, if you can't identify this poor soggy creature probably no one can. It seemed to be on a doomed mission to fly south or towards the sun. Tom put it on a twig but it promptly took off again, flapped heavily for a few yards, and fell into the lake too far out to reach.

    2. Later: Tom has been looking at his own pictures and thinks it was a Purple Hairstreak.

  3. That seems more likely, though I still wouldn't have identified it from this!