Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Heavy rain has flooded the flat area to the north of the Serpentine, and it was still raining this morning, keeping most people and their dogs away. Greylag Geese, and some Canadas in the background, were free to wander among the puddles and eat the grass.

An Egyptian Goose preened its large multicoloured wings.

So did a female Mallard, showing off its iridescent blue secondaries. I suppose the bright, varied wing colours of ducks enable them to recognise their own species while migrating.

There are a lot of Gadwalls in the park, I would estimate at least 30, and their numbers have been increasing for some months so it's not just an arrival of migrants. At this rate they should soon outnumber the Mallards.

The Winter Wasteland has finally shut for another year and you can actually hear the birds in the Rose Garden. A Robin sang quietly in a bush in the Rose Garden instead of having to yell at the top of its voice.

Even on the edge of the funfair compound, despite the lorries taking the rides away, you could hear small birds moving around in the trees. Great Tits ...

... and Coal Tits were hunting insects in the branches.

On Buck Hill, fruit is getting scarce on the rowan trees. There were still a few Redwings ...

... but the Blackbirds had switched to picking up fallen fruit from the ground.

There were also Wood Pigeons, but anyway it's easier for them eating on the ground than trying to cling to the thin twigs.

The female Little Owl could just be seen in the squirrel drey. She is so used to me now that she doesn't even bother to look round.

The aggressive Black-Headed Gull was still dominating the landing stage at the Diana fountain .

The subject of Jackdaws recently seen in St James's Park came up in recent comments. They disappeared from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park in 1968 when the elm trees they nested in were killed by the Elm Bark Beetle. A small population remained in Bayswater, where I sometimes saw them on chimneys. Five or six years ago they started to creep back into the northwest corner of Kensington Gardens, very shy and wary at first but becoming more relaxed and very gradually expanding their territory. It was another two years before they were seen in Hyde Park, but they have finally got right to the southeast corner, and here is one in the Rose Garden, which evidently knew me as it was expecting a peanut.

So their next stop is St James's Park, less than a mile away. In a year or two I expect them to become common there.

As sunset approached the weather cleared up. Gulls circled in the last of the thermals to gain  height for the flight to their roosts.


  1. I read that it is a virulent type of Dutch elm disease, spread by elm bark beetles, that has killed most mature elms since the late '60s, rather than the beetles themselves. And presumably you meant roost(s) rather than roots, with many gulls having no plans to return to sea ever.

    Happy New Year, and always a pleasure to tune in. Jim

    1. Happy New Year to you too. Well, the beetles are vectors of the disease and you may place the blame where you will. And thank you for pointing out my typo. One of the things I most regret about my education is that we were not taught to type, and I am still a bad two-fingered typist. I did a computer typing course and, at my advanced age, it didn't work.

    2. I thought I was the last person on earth that still typed with two fingers! Glad to see I am in the best company.

      How sweetly the Robin sings! I could listem to Robins for hours.

      Jackdaws will always spread. I imagine them like little generals, pooling plans and resources to invade St James's Park.

    3. In Richmond Park Jackdaws have completely taken over the corvid scene, and there are hardly any Carrion Crows. No idea how they did it.

  2. Love the Jackdaw...hope some will come over to the Physic Garden

    1. It seems quite likely, as they are spreading. I heard two in the street in South Kensington this morning, only a mile from the Physic Garden.