Saturday 18 February 2023

Everyone does the worm dance

A pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls did the worm dance side by side on the Parade Ground.

Most of the gulls that dance for worms are Herring Gulls, and I think they invented it. But other species have learnt from their example, and here are a Black-Headed Gull and a Common Gull busily pattering away.

Redwings were finding worms by more conventional methods ...

... which are so successful on this worm-rich ground that they can spend most of the time in the trees digesting their catch.

A Blackbird was hunting nearby.

A Wren perched on a bench in the Flower Walk ...

... and a Magpie waited in a blossoming tree for me to throw it a peanut.

Barry Jones sent a lovely close-up of a Rose-Ringed Parakeet on a sunny day eating blossom in the cherry tree in the North Flower Walk.

In today's dank grey windy weather the Little Owl at the Round Pond was sheltering right at the bottom of his hole. I had to hold the camera at arms' length above my head to get even this shot.

A Grey Heron was perfectly camouflaged against a ragged tree stump. It yawned.

The heron on the nest with the chick was hunkered down against the brisk wind and not worth photographing.

Its mate flew out of the tree and was promptly chased up the lake by a Common Gull.

A Black-Headed Gull was stumped by a piece of baguette too large to carry away.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden was diving on its own. The Mallards and Tufted Ducks were there too, but it's never struck up a relationship with them like it did with the Gadwalls.

An Egyptian Goose has hatched some goslings near the southeast corner of the Serpentine, but the female was sheltering them from the wind and they never came into sight, so no picture yet.

A pair of Mute Swans were mooching around a possible nest site at the end of the Lido restaurant terrace, against the reeds. Swans have nested here before, but never successfully.

The dominant male on the Long Water revolved as he preened.

Tinúviel told me about what may be the inspiration for Swan Lake: Lake Svetloe in Altai Krai. It's fed by hot springs and never freezes, so thousands of swans gather there in winter to enjoy the steamy warmth.

Sorry about the irritating music, it's not my video. Tinúviel sent me a version with music by Tchaikovsky, which is a bit better but actually I hate music on nature videos. I would have liked to use it but don't know its source, so there might be copyright problems.

Later: Here it is. I tried embedding it but it played havoc with the layout, so I'll give you a link instead. Tinúviel added, 'Muscovites insist that Tchaikovsky's true Swan Lake is the one near the Novodevichy Convent, but I've been there and there are no swans.'


  1. I do so agree about music overlaid on to nature films, I don't like having a 'mood' imposed on me. Natural background sounds would always be preferable .

    1. Very curious comment accidentally recorded at the end of today's swan video: 'Oh, is it a swan? But I don't know.' Never underestimate public ignorance.

    2. That is gobsmacking.

  2. Nature videos ought to be their own music. The whisper of the wind and the rush of the water and the sound of the birds ought to be music enough for anyone. Unfortunately we are in the minority in that view.
    Isn't it strange that both gulls don't even look at one another while doing their pas de deux?
    That heron could have fooled me.

    1. Although gulls must have some binocular vision, their eyes look mainly sideways rather than forward. But binocular vision is not wonderful for any bird smaller than a medium owl as their eyes are too close together. Mainly they use parallax to estimate distance, which is why owls bob their head when looking at things.