Tuesday 1 March 2022

Herons and demons

It was a drizzly day. Great Crested Grebes don't mind.

They are looking their best in their fresh breeding plumage, which needs constant maintenance.

As I expected, the pair at the bridge have stolen the Coots' nest. The Coots have by no means abandoned it and there will probably be a long battle. In the background are a couple of Mute Swans which have sneaked under the bridge, so far unobserved by the dominant swan on the Long Water.

Groups of swans were flying up and down the lake. 

One went up the Long Water, apparently planning to land in the Italian Garden fountains, but did a hasty U-turn when he saw the big male and his mate in possession.

I couldn't see how many Egyptian goslings have survived on the north side of the Serpentine, as they were sheltering under their mother.

There are no other young Egyptians on the lake now. A look at the boat platform explains why.

It also shows the extraordinarily high ratio of young Herring Gulls to adults, here 25 to 1. This is due to the speed at which the inner London population is increasing.

A Tufted drake displayed a particularly fine tuft.

The resident pair of Mallards in the Dell were reflected in the stream.

The young Grey Herons stood in the nest beside a parent.

I think that when Matthias Grünewald painted his Temptation of St Anthony he must have been looking at young herons. This detail shows one of the demons trying to snatch the saint's rosary.

A pair of Pied Wagtails hunted along the edge of the Serpentine. The male is the one with the darker back, shown on his own later in the clip.

Work on the Parade Ground had scared the Redwings away to a distant patch of mud and it was impossible to get even a mediocre picture, but this one at least shows ten of them, well camouflaged against the brown background. Shortly after I took it a passing helicopter routed them all into the trees. A Redwing's life is not easy.

A Coal Tit came out of the leaf yard as I was feeding some Great Tits. I think that with time it will come down to my hand.

The same goes for a shy Robin on a lower branch.

Mark Williams got a good picture of an early Red Admiral butterfly a couple of days ago.

And here is a spectacular image of a Great Grey Owl that has been visiting Helsinki, sent by Jukka Tiipana who will be coming over later this month. It was eating a rat.


  1. Oh wow, what a magnificent picture of the Great Grey Owl! Seeing one must be a life-changing experience.

    Grebes are looking so splendid in their best finery.

    Poor young Heron, so ill-favoured.

    1. Great Grey Owls look as if their eyes were too close together, but everything outside their face is a great bonnet of feathers which act like external ears to catch and direct sound.

  2. The Great Crested Grebes are looking splendid. I don't see them as often as I used to on the Thames or at the London Wetland Centre but often see them at Ruislip Lido & Osterley Park.

    Magnificent shot of the Great Grey Owl- a bird I've only seen one of in the wild & that was in California.

    1. It's odd that Great Crested Grebes do quite well in this park, much better than in Regent's or St James's or Battersea. But Little Grebes are rarely seen.

  3. Hi Ralph. I remember that you had a bird specie list of all the birds recorded in hyde park/kensington garden on your blog, I can't find it anymore, perhaps it's me not being to clever with computers. The question is, is the list still available to see on this site? Thanks in advance.

    1. Go on the web version it's down the right hand side.😁

    2. Or if you're viewing the mobile version, click on 'View web version' at the foot of the post, then enlarge the right side of the image and go down till you find the list.

  4. Best chance of seeing little grebes is St James's park. I know it's not your favorite place, but it's worth visiting for a photo up - they have been out every year in the last 8 years.

  5. *photo op, even :(

    1. Well, look at what I saw here a couple of days later.