Sunday 20 June 2021

A pair of Herring Gulls wandered among the moulting geese, moaning affectionately at each other. There is a breeding colony just north of the park in Paddington.

The earliest Canadas to moult are now regrowing their flight feathers, which can be seen here emerging in their blue wrappings.

The Red Crested Pochard on the Serpentine is also flightless, and just beginning to go into eclipse. I can't explain why its red head is so faded -- it might have been bleached by the recent strong sunshine.

A Mallard at Peter Pan has six ducklings.

The second egg on the Mute Swans' nest at the boathouse hasn't hatched, and I don't think it's going to. The Coot at the right side of the nest is sitting on eggs. No wonder the Coots were so persistent in staying here.

I tried to get a picture of the new Great Crested Grebe chick (or chicks) in the nest on the fallen poplar on the Long Water, but it (or they) remained obstinately in the shelter of the parent's wings.

However, I was photographing the nest under the willow next to the bridge as the sitting bird's mate arrived, and when I looked at the picture later I was surprised to see a little stripy head looking round its parent's neck. The grebe in the water is bringing a small fish for it. The young fish in the lake are now just the right size for feeding newly hatched chicks.

The chick from the first nest on the Long Water was at the reed bed with a parent, both of them poking around for small aquatic creatures on the reed stems.

Two grebes on the lake were catching crayfish. There is only one nest here, at the east end of the island and started later.

One of the young Grey Herons from the first nest was fishing at the island.

A Chiffchaff flew around the nest near the Henry Moore sculpture. The fledglings here seem to be independent now, though the younger ones near the Italian Garden are still begging.

Wood Pigeons enjoy eating young tender leaves, and these snowberry plants beside the Long Water seemed popular as there were several eating them.

Local owners of Brompton folding bicycles were having a get-together beside the Serpentine.

It reminded me that they are only a mile from the former village of Brompton, which can be seen here on William Faden's 1790 map of London and suburbs.

You can see that Kensington Gardens is still walled off by the ha-ha called the Bastion, built after Kensington Gardens was appropriated as the private garden of Kensington Palace in 1690. Note that although the Brompton Road and the Gloucester Road (then called Hogmire Lane) exist, there is no Cromwell Road or Queen's Gate. These were laid out when the area was built up in the 1860s. This very interesting map is in the Library of Congress, and can be viewed in detail here.


  1. Six ducklings with the Mallard. We know you like to test us every so often ;-)

    Presumably the grebes don't swallow the crayfish whole? Jim

    1. Yes, they do swallow crayfish whole. There is a size limit, of course, but I saw both these crayfish go down.

  2. I am always amazed by the depth and breadth of Ralph's knowledge of London, down to the littlest change of name.

    I had to squint and crane my neck, but I finally found the little stripy head, yay!

    1. Well, that map is of my locality. I live just to the right of the word 'Kensington' in a street laid out in the 1860s.