Friday 4 November 2022

Stonechat at Kensington Palace

A male Stonechat appeared in the floral border in front of Kensington Palace. There is an area of rough grass nearby which attracts birds that would not be found in the neater parts of the park, and there was another Stonechat here, a female, photographed by Julia on 24 September.

It had a good preen in the sunshine before flying off in search of insects.

The sun also brought out the teenage Little Owl on the other side of the Round Pond.

A Magpie in a nearby hawthorn tree struck a grand pose ...

.. and a Long-Tailed Tit in the Rose Garden was also looking stylish.

A Robin by the bridge was just doing its usual charming thing.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had had his lunch, and a Herring Gull was picking at the scanty leftovers.

The little group of Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine is now down to four as pairs go off on their own.

The Mute Swan drama continues. The dominant male was firmly in possession of the nesting island, apart from a Canada Goose which he could push off at any time if he felt like it.

The Italian Garden pair have returned to the fountains, again displacing the Egyptian Geese that returned yesterday.

Another pair of Egyptians have turned up in the Dell. This quiet spot, relatively free from predatory gulls, seems underused ...

... and the only water birds that are regular inhabitants are the pair of Moorhens. Occasionally a Grey Heron turns up to fish.

Sunshine brought out a lot of Common Wasps on the fatsia bush near the bridge. Fatsia and its relative ivy, which both flower in autumn and have abundant nectar, are useful resources for late insects.

They were joined by a Housefly. These unpopular insects are useful pollinators anyway.

Another disliked fly, I think a Bluebottle, on what I think is an American Beautyberry.

The lavender in the Rose Garden is now fading, but there were still enough flowers to attract a Common Carder bee ...

... and a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee.

The trouble with electric vehicles: the small dinghy on the Serpentine with a battery-powered outboard runs out of charge and has to be rescued. Better that this should happen on the Serpentine than on a remote Scottish loch.

An important notice for all readers visiting the park

Sad to say, bird flu has hit the lake. So far it has only affected swans and geese and we are hoping that it will go no further, but several have died and others are sick and have been taken into care. Dead birds are being removed promptly to avoid spreading contagion. It's important that no one should feed the waterfowl, as this causes them to congregate and they may infect each other. If you see anyone feeding birds by the Serpentine, Long Water or Round Pond, please ask them to stop it and explain why.


  1. So sad if not totally surprised about the bird flu. Let's hope it doesn't hit too many birds.

    Wonderful surprise regarding the Stonechat. Most of my local birds that appeared a while back seem to have moved on.

    The purple berried shrub I just know by it's botanical name of Callicarpa.

    1. The bird flu is setting in seriously. Six swans dead yesterday, three (that I've heard of or seen) sick today. Also several Canadas, a Mallard and a Coot. I think the water birds are hit most severely because the virus can remain viable for some time in water -- on droppings?

      Better news: there's a pair of Stonechats. They may have been here for a while because the bird Julia photographed in September was female.

      Callicarpa actually means 'beautiful fruit'.

    2. The males are such courageous little things. They aren't afraid of humans and are so brazen about it.

  2. Dreadful news about the bird flu. How many pigeons a day do you think our Black Backed friend gets through? Hope he doesn't succumb to the virus...

    1. I think Pigeon Eater gets at least one a day. I've known him take two in a day. What with him and other gulls, the Peregrines and the Sparrowhawks, the entire pigeon population of the park must be turned over in less than a year.

  3. Scratch my earlier comment - I see you are being hit very hard. I'm so sorry. It must be dreadful to see.

    1. It is. Virginia and Jenna have just lost one of their favourite Canadas, who died as they were trying to rescue him.

    2. Dear God, Poor Virginia, poor Jenna.

    3. This has hit them very hard, but they are working like Trojans to help the survivors.