Friday 2 October 2020

I am fairly sure that this Lesser Black-Backed Gull is the offspring of the notorious Pigeon Killer, and now several years old. It was on the shore below the Triangle Car park, where I've seen it hunting before but never witnessed it making a kill. I was holding my stills camera when it unexpectedly struck, and the thumbnail picture of this video was taken a fraction of a second later. I quickly switched to the video camera for the rest of this clip. You can see that it kills in the same way as its father, by biting through the victim's spinal cord.

At the other end of the lake the original gull found that there were no pigeons around and was looking a bit peeved. Rain had kept visitors away from the park, and the pigeons only mass when people are feeding the ducks.

A young Lesser Black-Back pestered a parent, in the typical low begging posture with head raised. The parent took absolutely no notice. When a young bird leaves the nest it's expected to look after itself.

A Grey Heron stood on a dead willow as the rain fell.

Another was on top of the big weeping beech in the Dell. A Carrion Crow decided to fly up to annoy it.

A pair of crows perched companionably side by side on a stack of deckchairs.

Two Pied Wagtails ran through the grass at the bottom of the Parade Ground. One of them found a small larva.

A Robin foraged in the wet undergrowth near the Dell.

No weather stops Long-Tailed Tits' ceaseless quest for insects.

Two pleasing pictures from Tom, taken yesterday. One of the pair of Coal Tits near the bridge perched on a holly twig, in exactly the same place as I've photographed it myself at least twice. I was feeding it while Tom took the picture -- you can't do both, as it's very camera shy and needs to be distracted.

Tom photographed this Wheatear on the river wall at Rainham Marshes.

The youngest two Great Crested Grebe chicks are now getting black crests. They're still far from independent, and constantly begging for food.

There were again six Shovellers on the Serpentine. A pair fed together by a reed bed, revolving to bring up little edible creatures in their wake. The other four saw Pigeon Killer approaching in a visibly bad mood and prudently got out of the way.

It's amazing that Shovellers manage to preen with their enormous blunt bills.

This Red Crested Pochard drake is now back in breeding plumage, with a big ginger bouffant hairdo.

The Black Swan remains on the Round Pond. It was heading for a faceoff with the biggest male Mute Swan, the only swan on the pond that it didn't force into submission when it first arrived.

The search for the elusive Ivy Bee in the ivy behind the Lido had to be called off today, because the drizzle kept all insects in cover except for a few hardy Common Wasps. David Element sent this fine picture of Ivy Bees taken at Mead Path.

A Giant Polypore fungus has appeared on a recently felled tree near the leaf yard.


  1. Not Chicken of the Woods, but Giant Polypore

    1. Thanks. Changed. I wasn't sure, mas it was not very yellow, and should have been more circumspect.

  2. Brutal but effective the hunting of the Lesser Black-back. It's interesting that the Herring Gulls don't seem to have caught on with this style of hunting, though they eagerly devour water bird chicks.

    1. Yes. I was surprised by that, and indeed I have been watching the far more numerous Herring Gulls to see if any of them was trying to hunt pigeons, and no sign of that so far. LBBs seem to be fiercer than HGs. From reports on my gull video on YouTube, Yellow-Legged Gulls seem to be more predatory still and often go for pigeons.

      I've also noticed a very slow transmission of learnt behaviour between HGs and LBBs, i.e. in the opposite direction. All the HGs in the park routinely do the worm dance, pattering their feet on the ground to bring up worms. It's a highly effective technique, and Common Gulls and even the small Black-Headed Gulls have adopted it. But LBBs tend to tap their beaks on the ground, which doesn't work nearly as well -- the rapid pattering of feet seems to sound like raindrops to the worms, causing them to surface. In all the time I've been watching, I've only seen one LBB doing the dance. It's as if the two top gull species (when the rare Great Black-Backs are absent) are haughtily refusing to learn from each other, a situation all too common with humans.

    2. Well, on 6th September in Regent Park I saw a Herring Gull devouring a pigeon which I assumed he had just caught. Will send pics

    3. Thank you. This is a subject of serious interest. Unless one actually sees the killing one can't be sure that the gull did it, but the completeness of the victim is a confirmation that the gull hasn't just scavenged a pigeon dead by other means.

    4. Yellow Legged Gulls are awfully efficient at catching and killing pigeons. Sometimes they even hunt in tandem, and I have seen so many of them at it now in both the north and the south that there is no doubt that thei cultural transmission is very swift.

    5. There have been quite a lot of comments on my YouTube gull video about the ferocity of Yellow-Legged Gulls, from people all over their region. California Gulls also seem to be able to kill pigeons.