Saturday, 11 June 2022

Warbling in the reeds

The Reed Warbler is still singing in the reeds next to the marble fountain in the Italian Garden.

For several days a Chiffchaff has been singing from the dead branches at the top of a tall tree near the Buck Hill shelter. He sometimes stays on the same twig for several minutes, which is unusual for these restless birds.

A family of Long-Tailed Tits swept through the willows on the south side of the Serpentine. Parents are no longer feeding their young, all are hunting together.

A picture by Neil of one of the bold young Great Tits in the Flower Walk that will now come to your hand to take food.

Mark Williams got a good picture of a Pied Wagtail at Clapton Pond. In the park here they can often be seen flying over but I haven't found where they are currently hunting on the ground.

Another picture from Mark: a young Whitethroat at the Welsh Harp reservoir.

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull which has recently joined the pigeon-hunting elite was at the Triangle car park and had clearly succeeded earlier, as there were pigeon remains on the shore. He displayed to a young female Herring Gull, which wasn't very interested and pecked him away for getting too close.

The original pigeon eater was in his usual place at the Dell restaurant. Some foolish people were feeding the pigeons, gathering a dense mob. The gull swooped straight in and grabbed one, but it escaped leaving only a few feathers in his beak.

Both these gulls have very bright yellow feet, and I think this colour comes from their meat diet in the form of astaxanthin, a carotene pigment.

A Great Crested Grebe fished near the bridge.

The Coot family from the nest at the bridge have now started ranging more widely down the lake. The biggest chick is now feeding itself of algae from the edge.

The Moorhen nesting inside the weir came out to have a preen.

Another was running over the moored boats, which provide both insects on the gull droppings and an adventure playground for them to enjoy climbing.

A moulting Greylag Goose is well ahead of the others, and its new wing feathers have almost completely emerged.

Two more regular June visitors have arrived on the lake, Canadas with speckled heads. They aren't hybrids, as you can see from their black feet. Speckles appear on pure-bred Canadas occasionally, and usually on hybrids with Greylags.

An Egyptian mother and her six goslings gathered into a compact heap.

Female Common Blue damselflies come in a variety of colours. Duncan Campbell photographed a pale brown one.

Common Blue butterflies also have brown females, but this one in the Rose Garden is a blue male. I think the blue is only in surface scales, as it seems to have worn off where the folded wings overlap.

The undersides of his wings are brownish with black and orange spots.


  1. Today I had a first glimpse of 3 LBB chicks on the chimney/roof above me. Wish them luck, what with the pair of Magpies in the adjacent plane trees , and a newly arrived gang of crows.

    1. And if they aren't eaten they will grow up to eat other creatures. It's a rough old world for them, but at least they don't have politicians.

    2. Yes, quite. But you can't help but feel for the young creatures. However, as my father said to me as a child, when upset about nature: 'they're all hungry, too'.

    3. Ugh. I really have a hard time with that. I know that it's the circle of life and nature red in tooth and claw, but I find it very, very hard going this time of the year. It's like a killing field. Sometimes I prefer winter.

      I think that LBB overreached himself. With so many LBB ladies, what would possess him to try his luck with an aggressive Herring female that was just minding her business.

      All birds have gone silent here. You can only hear the constant and mind-numbing wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of cicadas. I love hearing the birds at the Park still going about their sweet song.


    4. LBBG -- Herring Gull pairs are not uncommon here, and I think that several oddly dark HGs and pale LBBs may be hybrids. Offspring of the closely related birds are fertile, so there is ample opportunity for quarter and eighth hybrids.

      Birdsong is fading now after high season of April and May, and by July they will all be silent until the Robins get going again in the autumn.

      There is much less shrieking from parakeets too, and that is not seasonal. I think the park people may be secretly shooting them with airguns in the hours between dawn (4am in midsummer) and 6 when the park opens. These things are never revealed. A few years ago some animal rights people discovered that squirrels were being secretly trapped and there was a big fuss.