Saturday 5 November 2022

Looking for Stonechats, but ...

I thought I'd found a pair of Stonechats at Kensington Palace, but unfortunately they turned out to be Chaffinches. Pretty birds but not rare.

A Pied Wagtail hunted in the wet grass below.

A Coal Tit stared out from a bush in the Flower Walk.

There seemed to be Long-Tailed Tits all round the lake, but that was mostly the effect of walking around at the same pace as the slowly shifting flock. This one was waiting in a bush at the Vista for the others to catch up so that they could cross the gap together.

Jays are reappearing beside the Long Water after their autumn task of burying nuts and acorns.

Rose-Ringed Parakeets are perfectly camouflaged in summer, but when the leaves fall they stick out like sore thumbs.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from a tree on the south side of the Serpentine.

A female Blackbird found a worm under a bush in the Rose Garden.

A Black-Headed Gull toyed idly with a leaf.

Grey Herons and a Cormorant perched on the wire baskets around the island. There are still a lot of Cormorants on both lakes and I even saw one on the Round Pond, where they don't often go.

The four Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine are still in a group. They aren't a family, as three of them are adults.

A sad sight: a Mute Swan coming down with avian flu was feeling disoriented and dizzy, and swam in circles shaking it head. It was with its mate, also falling ill. They have been taken into care, but other swans have not been so lucky and there have been quite a few deaths.

This Canada Goose is recovering. It still has a gummy discharge from its eye and a stiff neck, but it's feeding and preening and should be all right in a few days.

The swan manoeuvres on the Long Water continue. The dominant male was near the bridge, and the male from the Italian Garden had taken the opportunity of coming down on to the lake, leaving his mate safely in the fountain pool.

While he's away the Egyptian Geese can return, but when he comes back he will probably chase them out again.

The Magazine is actually the name of the old gunpowder store near the bridge, but the name has also been given to the peculiar restaurant next to it designed by Zaha Hadid. Its bland mushroom-like appearance has been cheered up by a poor man's Mondriaan painting on the wall behind it ...

.. and a light show inside, which is pretty though it must be rather disturbing when your lunch goes blue.


  1. Are you being hit by the avian flu very seriously? There's been two dead here in Spain in the past week.

    1. It's quite bad. On the lake we've lost, I think, 14 swans out of about 80. In the narrow crowded Regent's Canal, from where the infection seems to have arrived in the nearby park, three quarters of the swans have died because of the proximity. One blessing here is that a lot of the swans had left already because of bullying by dominant empire-building males.

    2. I saw a dead swan today by the round pond & the park ranger who collected it said he's had about 5 dead just over this weekend. Very sad

    3. Fewer casualties today, so there are some grounds for hope.

    4. It's an awfully bad outbreak, even if it was less lethal today. I don't remember such lethality before. Have there been human casualties? There were two dead here, workers in a poultry farm.

    5. I read somewhere that there have been, The virus doesn't transmit easily to humans but when it does mortality is high even with medical care.

  2. I was amused by your comment regarding Chaffinches being common as around here I've probably seen more than ten times the number of Stonechats than I have Chaffinches!

    Have seen a small number of migrant birds in recent days but I no longer see them in the breeding season.

    So sad to see the suffering swans.

    1. It is odd about the Chaffinches. I know of a dozen in various parts of Kensington Gardens. Evidently park conditions suit them.