Saturday 5 December 2020

When I went round the Diana fountain this morning to check for the White-Fronted Goose I couldn't find it. Some Greylags flew in, followed by more. I came back a couple of hours later and there were four White-Fronted Geese, which may have come in with the Greylags. Here are two feeding together.

The other two were apart, and on the far side of the enclosure.

There have also been reports of Tundra Bean Geese in Essex. Both these species migrate from northern Europe. 

Greylag Geese like to take democratic decisions. In this case they were discussing whether it was safe to move on to the grass at the Vista and have a feed, on a sunny Saturday when there were a lot of dangerous dogs running around. They decided that it was all right for the time being.

The Goldeneye was diving in his usual place at the east end of the Serpentine.

If he stays we'll be able to see him developing into an adult drake with barred white sides and a properly golden eye. This happened a few years ago when we got an immature male Scaup on the Round Pond, which stayed for months.

A little flight of Tufted Ducks sped down the lake.

Some of the females have white foreheads ...

... and people sometimes say they've seen a female Scaup. However, a Scaup has a fine vermiculated pattern on the feathers on its back and sides, while Tufted Ducks have plain brown.

The Black Swan was in his usual place on the Round Pond.

An aggressive male Mute Swan on the Serpentine chased a female and forced her on to the shore.

A Common Gull ignored a notice and soon flew off to have a swim.

The sunny morning started two Song Thrushes singing, one near the leaf yard and one at the northwest corner of the bridge.

I saw two Blackbirds, so it looks as if the shortage is easing a little. This female was in the scrub on the west side of the Long Water.

One of the family of Chaffinches under the holly tree near the southwest corner of the bridge.

Starlings washed at the Lido restaurant and perched on the railings to dry and preen their brilliantly shining feathers.


  1. Ah, the song thrush. I heard one in Wimbledon Common but couldn't attract it out, was singing from some bush (may have helped if I wore camo outfit-which I don't have yet).

    1. I don't think you can attract a Song Thrush by any means. They are very shy indeed. I've managed to feed Mistle Thrushes by chucking food on the ground, but never a Song Thrush.

      Don't bother with camo. The birds know you're there, and they hate being sneaked up on. But they also know when you're busy doing something other than watching them, and then they relax. Talk to friends, laugh, sing, and they'll stop seeing you as a threat.

  2. It was good to see you by the White-Fronted Geese this afternoon. When I went back later, all the Greylags had left the fountain enclosure but the 4 white-fronts were still there.
    It took me a while to find the Goldeneye but eventually I got some good views of him.
    When I was at the Vista I saw a few Pochards over on the far side of the lake

    1. After the big flock of Pochards unaccountably left I could only find two, both drakes. One of them is a permanent resident on the Long Water, don't know about the other.

  3. Reminded of T.H. White's The Once and Future King, where Merlin turns the boy Arthur into a goose, to learn democracy. Lovely description.

    1. Must read that again. But T.H. White's approach to birds has been gently demolished by Helen Macdonald, who succeeded with a Goshawk after he had failed so thoroughly.

    2. I only ever re-read the first book - Arthur's childhood, and I still think that's pretty magic. Ran out of steam to read more after that.
      Yes, Helen's approach clearly worked better. But, whilst I think falconry fascinating, I don't really understand the desire for it. Although I have enjoyed having a very large bird sit on my arm.

  4. Four albifrons! (albifrontes?) It's an incredible sighting. If they come all the way from northern Siberia, I'd like to think they had made the acquaintance of Beaivi at the time.

    Greylags are always doing something interesting.

    1. Just looked up the temperature in Siberia, about -15° in most places. Though not severe by Siberian standards, it would certainly encourage a goose to leave. Incidentally, it's warmer in Berlin at 7° than it is in Marrakesh at 5°.

  5. You've treated us to a real wildfowl bonanza there, Ralph as well as a couple of fine thrush photos. I saw on London Birders that an observer had failed to find the Whitefront-so was pleased I went Friday, despite the weather being much more pleasant yesterday. Then this morning looking at the site again I saw your entry saying 4 had turned up later. Lovely video. Hopefully they will hang around. I saw Pete Alfrey's photo on FB with the 4 on Clapham Common with a bus in the background!

    Hoping the Lea Valley birds hang about- 22 at Holyfield Farm which regularly used to hold some of these most winters, but not for a while now. That would be more than I see when I have a long weekend in Norfolk in January.

  6. It seems that the four White-Fronts were in the park when morning observers didn't find the single one in the Diana enclosure. They had come down on the Round Pond, the usual port of arrival for migrants as it's on high ground with trees spaced well back, and so can be seen from miles away. But I wonder how they managed to find the ideal safe grazing ground of the Diana fountain so quickly.