Wednesday 7 July 2021

Although most of the songbirds have fallen silent in July, a Blackcap was still singing near the leaf yard.

It seems we have a fourth pigeon-killing gull. I've photographed this one before with what I thought was another gull's leftovers, but this time it had certainly killed the pigeon itself.

So the list is:

  1. The original pigeon killer, a Lesser Black-Back with distinctively deep yellow feet.
  2. A Herring Gull.
  3. A Lesser Black-Back with pale feet.
  4. This Lesser Black-Back with normal coloured feet.

It's remarkable how this behaviour has suddenly spread. The original gull has been at it since 2004 and has occasionally been imitated without success, but now several gulls are succeeding.

A Grey Heron stalked through the long grass on Buck Hill.

The heron at the Dell restaurant is now bold enough to stand on a table among the diners. A few years ago there was one here that would snatch food from people's plates, and it looks as if this one is headed that way.

Another heron looked a right old ragbag in a larch tree by the bridge.

The two young herons from the second nest on the island had both returned to it. They are now fully independent, flying around and finding their own food, but the nest is a comfortable place to rest.

More Cormorants are arriving. There was a young one on a post at Peter Pan.

The Great Crested Grebes from the east end of the island admired their chick under the shelter of the electric catamaran.

The chick near the bridge was in the shade of the willow.

The oldest chick on the Long Water hurried to catch up with a parent.

A Coot brought a green twig to its mate on a new nest in the Italian Garden fountains.

Then it took time off for a wash and preen.

The Black Swan has returned to the Long Water and was looking hopeful at the Vista. I did try to feed it once, but all I had were sunflower hearts and it doesn't like them.

A Red-Crested Pochard at the Vista was well into eclipse.

So was a Common Pochard on the Serpentine.

This is the second Meadow Brown butterfly I've seen this year, and the first I've got a picture of. It was in the wildflower patch in the Rose Garden.


  1. No wonder they admire their chick. Anyone would.

    What does the Black Swan like to eat? Surely bread. Everyone likes bread, even if bread doesn't like them back.

    Odd that the technique of Pigeon Killer is catching up now. Perhaps the LBBs are offspring of his from several years ago?

    1. Yes, I'm afraid that the Black Swan does like bread. One bit of good news is that the notices put up all round the lake telling people not to feed the birds seem to be having some effect. Even the parakeet feeders are down a bit. The fall may be temporary.

      I have seen an LBB with pale feet trying and failing to catch pigeons for a couple of years, but the present one may not be the same. You have to know a gull well to recognise individuals. The original pigeon killer is unmistakable because of his spotty eyes.

    2. How long have the said notices been present, and could they, together with similar notices elsewhere, have tipped the additional gulls into a pigeon-hunting habit?

      As we have discussed past sporadic observations of pigeon-killing gulls around the world especially LBBs, and my seeing one once in north London with a kill. I was thinking also of Covid restrictions reducing discarded take-away food but that wouldn't seem to explain it this year. Jim

    3. The notices have only been there for a couple of weeks. I think your point about reduced numbers of visitors, especially in the first months of the Great Madness, is a good one.

  2. Yes, not many birds singing now. Like you Blackcaps along with Wrens & Chiffchaff.

    I wonder now more gulls are catching pigeons whether the behaviour will spread?

    Good to see the grebe chick doing well.

    1. Even the Chiffchaffs have shut up here. A long hiatus until the Robins start up again.

      This sudden spread of pigeon killing is surprising, and of course I will be keeping an eye on it. Gulls are endlessly fascinating, and I am beginning to see how some people turn into gull monomaniacs.