Thursday 24 September 2020

Two teenage Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine inspected the shore, a place of no great interest to grebes but young birds are always curious.

Then they went fishing along the edge. One caught a small crayfish, only to have it grabbed by a Black-Headed Gull.

Relieved of the need to feed them, their mother preened.

Someone had given this Black-Headed Gull a Hula Hoop. The gull enjoyed rolling it around before finally eating it.

This Herring Gull was following me around looking hungry. All I had for it was a peanut, which it could easily crush with its powerful beak. But it seemed unfamiliar with peanuts, and fiddled with it for some time before calling out in a frustrated way. It will learn.

Three of the four teenage Mute Swans on the Serpentine have just grown their flight feathers, and were preening them. I haven't seen them trying to fly yet.

The fourth had wandered away, but was doing the same.

The Black Swan has returned from its trip to the Round Pond, and was following a male Mute Swan around in a slightly obsessive way. I don't think it was looking for a mate, since it has also followed female swans. It just seems to be lonely and wanting a bit of companionship.

An Egyptian Goose flew on to a tree stump and looked down at the others with a superior air.

The Grey Wagtail was on its favourite rock at the bottom of the Dell waterfall. It's an excellent hunting platform that allows it to shoot off over the stream when it sees an insect.

At the top of the Dell the sun shone through the peeling bark of a Paper Bark Maple with a Garden Spider's web. A pity the spider wasn't there to complete the view.

A Coal Tit in a holly tree near the bridge came to my hand to be fed ...

... and a Goldcrest hopped around in the branches.

Ahmet Amerikali sent this remarkable shot of a European Hornet eating a fly.

Joan Chatterley found a Privet Hawk-Moth caterpillar at Two Tree Island near Leigh on Sea. They are enormous, sometimes over 3½ inches long.


  1. I'm sorry, but the first thing I thought when seeing the enormous caterpillar was, what a tasty morsel for the local Blackbirds.

    That's a fearsome specimen, the European Hornet. But they keep worse critters at bay.

    So we have finally found something a gull won't eat! That's a first. Incidentally, I could listen to Herring Gulls cry for hours - it reminds of Galadriel's warning to someone who had never seen the sea:

    "Legolas Greenleaf long under tree,
    In joy thou hast lived, Beware of the Sea!
    If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
    Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more"

    1. That caterpillar lived to crawl another day, because Joan watched it to safety on the edge of the path.

      European Hornets are even-tempered creatures and won't sting you unless you do something silly to annoy them.

      Our Herring Gulls are not romantically marine. Hatched near Paddington Station, most of them have probably never left London. There was a German-ringed one here once.