Saturday 18 March 2023


This male Blackbird and his mate can be found along the path between the Buck Hill shelter and the Henry Moore sculpture, a territory about 100 yards wide.

The catastrophic fall in the Blackbird population since the introduction of the leaf blower to destroy their habitat -- over 90 per cent in the past 50 years -- means that you can now be certain that you are seeing the same ones in a general area. With fewer birds, the size of their territories has increased, but with less leaf litter full of insects and worms they need wider territories. This area in the woodland beside the Long Water, behind railings and hard of access, has remained fairly natural.

There is a Song Thrush -- maybe a pair, the sexes look the same -- in an overlapping territory a little to the south. Here is one of them on the far side of the lawn under the Henry Moore statue.

The Chiffchaff on the opposite side of the path reappeared in the same tree as yesterday. They have nested in the nearby bramble patch in past years.

Robins remain plentiful. One sang on a tree near the Round Pond.

The olive tree at the east end of the Lido restaurant terrace is a constant Robin song perch. This has been going on for many years, and it must be a succession of Robins that is keeping the place active.

Dunnocks are such surreptitious birds that it's impossible to understand their territorial behaviour, but there are places where you often see one. Here is one on the steps up to the bridge, a place where I've photographed it before.

Redwings are winter migrants and when they are here and stay in a flock, roaming together over a wide area. This one was near the Speke obelisk.

The birds that you can feed are easy to track. I picked up this male Chaffinch in a flower bed at Mount Gate ...

... and he followed me all the way to the Flower Walk, demanding pine nuts.

A Grey Wagtail wandered around the boat hire platform. The grooved planking collects bird droppings which attract insects, so it's a popular hunting ground.

A Pied Wagtail hunted in the Italian Garden. Here it's the food dropped by visitors which attracts the insects it eats.

Pied Wagtails in public places full of people often become very approachable, confident in their ability to shoot into the air. Ahmet Amerikali photographed this one wandering through the crowds at the Surrey Quays shopping centre.

The Little Owl was in his usual tree, though the Saturday crowds were bothering him and he soon flew off to a higher tree.

A Herring Gull at the Dell restaurant finished off the remains of the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Back's lunch.

Under the Grey Heron nest at the Serpentine island, one of the last year's offspring contemplated its reflection.

The dominant Mute Swan pair were in the Italian Garden. With no one present to offer them unhealthy bread they were cropping off algae from the stonework, much more healthy for them than any human offering.


  1. I know we have discussed individual characters among the birds you feed, but I keep wondering: do they behave differently, as species? Are, say, Robins more careless, Chaffinches more demanding, Blue Tits more careful, Great Tits more forceful... ? Or are the differences greater across individuals than it is across species?
    Poor Blackbirds. I hope whoever made the choice to introduce the leaf blower will be visited by the ghosts of the thousands of Blackbirds he or she caused not to be born.

    1. All the small birds I feed are demanding as soon as they have decided I'm safe. They all pursue me along the path and sometimes halfway to the Round Pond, way out of their territories. The only exception to that is the aggressive Robin, who takes as many as six pine nuts at one go and is then satisfied for the time being.

  2. Though I saw 2 or 3 wintering Chiffchaffs, haven't had a spring bird yet. Nice to see this one. I did get my first 4 Wheatears on one of my local patches yesterday after the early rain disappeared.

    What a fine looking bird a Dunnock is when seen like your photo.

    1. I haven't seen a Wheatear here for several years. Even the wilder parts of the park are a bit too busy for them.

      I hope the Chiffchaffs will nest near where I photographed that one, as they have several times before.