Monday, 31 January 2022

Grey Wagtails are larger and less athletic than Pied Wagtails, but they still have a fair turn of speed.

There were more Redwings on the Parade Ground, perhaps 20 but it was hard to tell as some were in the trees. If you stand still they will come quite close.

One found a worm and quickly swallowed it before hopping off to find more.

A female Blackbird was also looking for worms inside a bush in the Rose Garden.

There are Greenfinches in the holly trees at the southwest corner of the bridge, but they seldom come out and allow themselves to be photographed.

A female Great Spotted Woodpecker in a treetop near the Italian Garden spread her wings ...

... and flew away.

Carrion Crows ate a very decayed fish on the edge of the Serpentine. They aren't fussy about freshness.

The platform at Bluebird Boats was a solid mass of gulls. The resident Moorhens refuse to be ousted.

A Black-Headed Gull at the Vista had an orange plastic ring, 2V09. I haven't seen it before but it was ringed by Bill Haines, probably here.

A Great Crested Grebe preened under the dead willow near the Italian Garden.

The older of the two rabbits was out by the Henry Moore sculpture, but it was looking worried with its ears laid back.

Zoom out of the scene and you can see why. Grey Herons can't swallow rabbits, but they have been known to attack them just as they pointlessly spear fish too large to eat.

Rats, on the other hand, make a tasty snack. This picture was taken by Tom at Wanstead Flats a couple of years ago.


  1. A couple of years ago I was very surprised to see a grey heron looking out from the edge of a second floor balcony near my home a couple of streets away from Kensington Gardens, particularly as the swimming pools here are two storeys underground. But then Ralph informed me it was probably looking for rats. "Never more than 50 feet away..."

    1. They seem to choose high viewpoints to get a wide general view. They must have excellent eyesight to spot the tell-tale twitch of the vegetation from that distance.

  2. Even cats will sometimes hesitate before catching a rat. Herons know no fear. Well, I wouldn't eithe if I had their fearsome beak!

    I have always wondered why Wagtails wag their tails so much. Perhaps it helps them keep their balance with their slight mass and their sudden bouts of speed?

    1. Herons have a practised method of swallowing prey that might bite back: they toss it in midair, turning it, and catch it so that it goes down head first and the dangerous end of the creature is crushed at once.

  3. Black-headed Gull 'orange 2V09' was originally ringed with metal-ring EL35626 by Phil Belman beside the Thames at Westminster in February 2019. It was seen at the Italian Fountain in Kensington Gardens later that year (November), before I recaptured him (yes, it's a boy - based on measurements taken at re-capture) in December 2020 and was fitted with its unique colour-ring. These colour-rings make it much easier to identify specific individuals, and generate more re-sightings than metal rings alone (which can take a lot of patience and good optics to read, providing they stay still enough and don't fly off off). 'Orange 2V09' is a regular winter visitor and appears to commute regularly between the Serpentine and the Long Water (as probably do many of the Black-headed Gulls)