Tuesday 17 January 2023

The Mount

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden rested in the irises, opened its beak a few times -- was it catching midges? there are always some here -- had a wash and dived, and the splash woke up the dozing Mallard next to it.

I can't see any midges in this still picture.

The dominant pair of Mute Swans stood on the kerb of a pool, mirroring each other's actions as mates do to reinforce their bond.

A Moorhen jumped off a ram-headed urn on to the weathered head of a nymph.

Farther down the Long Water, a Lesser Black-Backed Gull enjoyed a wash.

There was a single Egyptian Goose under the Henry Moore sculpture. The resident pair were still grazing in the waterlogged grass on the other side of the lake, and this is the lone bird that has been trying unsuccessfully to attach itself to (or maybe break up) the pair.

As I went home in fading light past the hummocks east of the Albert Memorial that are all that are the remains of Bridgeman's 'Mount', I was intercepted first by a Jay ...

... then by various small birds including a bold Coal Tit that came to my hand ...

... and a male Chaffinch.

The arrival of a flock of ravenous Starlings put an end to the feeding session.

I like Starlings, but they are too violent to hand feed comfortably, and once you start feeding them they will never let you alone for the rest of your life.

Yesterday Shachar Hizkiya got a good shot of a Redwing here. It had probably been looking for worms on the East Lawn where the avenue of plane trees leads to the Albert Memorial.

Charles Bridgeman replanned Kensington Gardens around 1730. The Mount was a 'prospect mount', an artificial hill from which you could enjoy the view, and was a bit over 40 feet (13 metres) high, with a spiral path leading to a summerhouse on top mounted on a pivot so it could shelter its occupants from the wind. It was made from clay dug out during the excavation of the Serpentine, and stood a short way to the north of the existing remains, near the present Mount Gate. It only lasted a few decades until growing trees blocked the view, and was then pulled down around the end of the century.

Another picture from Shachar, a Goldcrest in a bush in the Rose Garden. He was lucky to find it in a fairly open place, as they spend most of their time lurking in dense evergreen trees.

And lastly, another picture of a magnificent Goshawk from Jukka Tiipana. It was in Helsinki, where he tells us there are at least 50 pairs, and was eating a crow -- I would guess a Hooded Crow at that latitude.


  1. Beautiful but wholly alien creature. Wholly un-human - like. Paraphrasing Blake, strange to think that the same God that made the Little Grebe did also make it.
    I think the Little Grebe may be simply yawning. It sleeps every bit as adorably as their big brothers the Great Crested Grebes.

    1. I am thinking of Helen Macdonald playing football with her Goshawk with a ball of scrunched-up paper, and the bloody but endearing moment when they were both trying to pull a rabbit out of the hole it had half-dived into, each of them holding a leg. She took care not to anthropomorphise, but there was definitely a bond between them.

      The question is: do birds, with their very different breathing systems, yawn?

  2. Do birds yawn - that is nearly a philosphical question, because we don't actually know the real meaning of yawning even with people. Of cource there is at least two dimensions of yawning: purpose and mechanism. My quess is that the purpose is the same with people and animals including birds: it is an expression and attempt to relieve an inner mental state: tiredness, perplexity or being bored or stressed.

    1. I think the Little Grebe was dozing in its hiding place in the irises before I started filming it, so maybe yawning here was part of waking up. So was the brief washing session, maybe.