Tuesday 15 March 2022

The first Honeybees of the year

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits collected bark fibres in the ivy hedge at the back of the Lido. So they do use other materials in the structure of their nest apart from spiders' webs, moss and lichen.

It looks as if the Redwings have finally left. This morning just two were chattering in the trees on the Parade Ground, but when in the afternoon there were none.

But there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and climbing on a tree on the Parade Ground. Wish I could have got a bit nearer, but the fence around the returfing operation was in the way.

A Robin sang in the climbing roses around the dead tree in the Rose Garden.

A single Goldfinch pecked at leaf buds in a tree beside the Long Water. For some reason we never get many Goldfinches in the park, although they are a common sight in the surrounding streets.

On a sunny day the terrace at the Dell restaurant was crowded. Starlings waited in a hawthorn tree for diners to leave a table so they could swoop down and pick up scraps.

The affectionate Herring Gull pair were in their usual place beside the Serpentine. It's likely that many of the mass of young gulls in the park are their offspring.

After yesterday's adventures the young Grey Herons were quietly back in their nest.

A heron and an Egyptian Goose exchanged hostile glances on the Henry Moore sculpture. Both regard it as their property, and the Egyptian has a mate nesting nearby.

A Cormorant caught a small carp on the Long Water. Thanks to Ahmet Amerikali for this picture. The fact that there are still some fish this size is good news for the nesting Great Crested Grebes.

The grebes' nest opposite Peter Pan now has at least three eggs in it.

The Coots' nest here rests on a submerged chain attached to the post. The line of posts was originally put there to stop boats from coming any farther up the Long Water, but now the limit has been pushed back to the bridge and the original double row of chains here allowed to rust away.

This is the first Honeybee I've seen this year, collecting pollen in a blackthorn tree in the Rose Garden.

The mild weather had also brought out a fair number of Buff-Tailed Bumblebees, this one in the hellebore in the Rose Garden that has sustained them over the winter ...

... and this one in fresh currant blossom at the back of the Lido.

Butterbur is coming up near the Italian Garden. It flowers while still quite small, then grows into a substantial plant.

Ahmet photographed this male House Sparrow at Canada Water. How we all wish they would return to the park.


  1. I suspect Goldfinches' predator-aversity leads them to prefer the streets, where there are fewer directions in 3D that an unseen attack could come from and it is easier to plan escape routes. A recent study confirmed the link between predators and some bird declines in the UK. When I saw House Sparrows at the Welsh Harp a few years ago they were so skittish as to almost seem a different species to those I saw pre-1990s. It was birdwatcher talk as far back as 1985 that wherever Sparrowhawks returned to, Bullfinches became rare. Jim

    1. Thanks for the information. Bullfinches are never seen in the park, where there is now a resident pair of breeding Sparrowhawks. But beyond that, Andrew Self in The Birds of London says that they have been totally absent from central London since 2000.

      I've read that the 19th-century introduction of Little Owls (which had been present in the London area but only in small numbers) was intended to keep down the Bullfinches that were eating fruit crops in Kent, and that it failed in this purpose but did establish the Little Owl as a fairly common British resident

  2. That's a very handsome sparrow. I have always marvelled that the facial expressions in male and female sparrows should be so different from one another, although I suppose it must be just a visual impression made by differences in marking and colour.

    To think that those two gulls are the patriarch and matriarch of a long line of Herring Gulls!

    1. Well, of course I'm not sure about that pair of gulls, but they have been seen together in that place for several years and I feel sure they must be breeding nearby, probably in the Paddington colony north of the park. Also, they are quite high-ranking, chasing other big gulls from their territory. The rest is mere speculation.

  3. Lovely to see all the bees again. I went to Wisley yesterday & the Honey Bees were active on the Ericas as well as some Buff-tailed Bumblebees. I did see one queen Early Bumblebee & a couple more male Brimstones.

    Interesting the butterbur shown isn't our native species but the White Butterbur, Petasites albus.

  4. To Conehead54: Not White Butterbur (Petasites albus), but Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus)

    1. I think the Long Water shore near the Italian Garden is the only place in the park where there is any Butterbur of any species. No doubt it was deliberately planted as an exotic before the park enforced its prudent but dreary rule of planting British species only (apart from the cultivated border flowers).