Monday 25 September 2023

Starlings and archangels

I was trying to find an angle to photograph the female Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery, who was well hidden in the leaves of the lime tree, when there was a rustle and her mate climbed past. He's on the right in this picture.

He flew up to a higher branch where you could get a good view of him.

The male owl at the Round Pond was also showing well in the horse chestnut.

The female Peregrine flew on to the barracks tower in the afternoon.

A young Magpie and a parent rested quietly on an arbutus in the Rose Garden.

A Robin perched on a stump in the Flower Walk. This isn't the one that comes to my hand, but I think it can be persuaded to when the cold weather arrives and the small birds are hungrier.

Chattering could be heard from the upper reaches of the Albert Memorial, and after a good deal of searching I found two Starlings -- they are on the left of this picture. The memorial is a hierarchical structure and the top figures, just under the cross, are the four archangels Gabriel, Rapahel, Michael and Uriel, though they are not labelled so there is no sure way of knowing which is which. However, they are sometimes associated with points of the compass and the birds are on the northernmost angel, who in that case would be Uriel.

Cormorants clustered on the fallen black poplar at the Vista.

The old Grey Heron was back in his customary place under the Henry Moore sculpture.

At the island a heron got too close to another, and inevitably there was a chase.

A Great Crested Grebe preened and flapped to settle its wing feathers comfortably.

One of the grebe chicks from the nest near the bridge was in the shade of the old weeping willow ...

... whose partly collapsed branches are a favourite resting place for Mallards.

The drakes are almost out of eclipse and this one already has a fine iridescent green head.

A male Common Darter dragonfly looked splendid on a dark-leafed shrub in the Dell. PlantNet says that this is Pittosporum tenuifolium, a plant from New Zealand which has the common names of Kohuhu, Tawhiwhi and Black Matipo in various Maori dialects -- not common at all really.

The barriers around the Huntress fountain have finally be removed but she isn't working yet. Maybe they're waiting for some bigwig to ceremonially reopen her, or maybe the plumbing simply isn't connected yet.


  1. That reminded me of the four statues of the Archangels in the basilica of the Valle de los Caídos: three canonical (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael) and the fourth one, extra-canonical (Uriel or Azrael). They are not labeled but they may be identified thanks to the symbols they hold: Raphael holds a walking stick and a fish, Michael holds a sword, Gabriel holds a lily, while Uriel/Azrael is veiled and has his arms stretched out over his head, in prayer for the dead:

    Do the Albert Memorial archangels hold any identifying symbols, I wonder?

    1. the four archangels are empty-handed and almost (though I think not quite) identical. None of them has any attributes that I can see. This is a 19th century monument and proper symbolism has probably been forgotten. Incidentally, in Leonardo's 'The Virgin of the Rocks' the archangel Uriel doesn't have his identity marked in any way.

  2. Absolutely love the Heron confrontation and taking center stage in the road. It’s nice to witness behavioural antics like that, what a pleasure.

  3. Lovely shot of the Cormorants on the branch.

    Certainly a good day yesterday for late dragonflies. Saw a few Common Darters & Migrant Hawkers at Kew Gardens, though Willow Emerald was the most abundant species.

    The Pittosporum in your shot- was it a dwarf form- can see it's a purple leaved cultivar- maybe the variety "Tom Thumb"? P. tenuifolium is a very popular shrub in its many forms.

    1. The dragonflies here are almost all Migrant Hawkers. I was surprised to find the Common Darter, which I hadn't seen for a fortnight. No Willow Emeralds here now. The Long Water is not marshy enough to suit them, so we don't get many.

      I think you're right about the Pittosporum cultivar. It's a small compact shrub 4 feet high that shows no sign of growing into anything like a tree.

  4. I got a picture of the Starlings perched on the hands of the eastern archangel

  5. Actually, it is the feast day of the archangels on Friday

    1. And the Michaelmas daisies are blooming in the honour of St Michael.