Thursday 30 November 2023

Robins everywhere

One of the Magpies at the Triangle returned to the nest it used in the spring. But it was no longer interested in it as a nest: it's full of insects which the bird picked out.

There were Robins everywhere. This one was singing in a bush in the Rose Garden. I was lucky to get a momentary interval in the hideous Christmas songs blasting out from the loudspeakers in the Winter Wasteland.

It was answered by one on the edge of the garden.

The Robin by the Henry Moore sculpture waited for me to put pine nuts on the railings.

Another was singing high in a holly tree by the bridge.

Although it was very cold, the sunshine brought the male Little Owl at the Round Pond out on a branch of the dead tree.

He would have had to go in by the hole at the back, as there was a Jackdaw at the upper entrance which he generally uses. I don't think Jackdaws bother Little Owls particularly, although the other corvids attack them.

The Grey Wagtail was in its favourite place under a bush at the end of the Lido restaurant terrace.

Immediately after I took this picture it was bounced by the pair of Pied Wagtails which were flying up and down the edge of the lake. The female caught yet another unidentifiable larva -- it looks as if half of it has already been eaten.

Readers sometimes say that they hardly ever see a Jay in the park. If you feed them you see a lot. This is a picture by Julia, who does feed them.

Viewers of my YouTube channel often ask me whether the famous pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull is still around. Yes, he is, seen today eating his latest kill in the usual place by the Dell restaurant. Gulls can live to over 30, so he's still in his prime.

A Common Gull stood on the old cast-iron water level indicator on the opposite side of the lake.

Although there was a frost last night, the Long Water hadn't frozen yet. Tonight is colder and it probably will. But the Great Crested Grebe family from the bridge were still in place today. The male was by the reed bed opposite Peter Pan, being harassed by two Black-Headed Gulls that wanted to grab any fish he caught.

One of the young ones could be seen resting in the middle of the water.

However, there were no grebes on the Serpentine that I could see. That means that the youngest one was already capable of flying, and the family have flown up the river. There are grebes from Chiswick all the way upstream.

A Coot was reclining on the pavement in the Italian Garden. I thought it might have an injured leg, but when I approached it got up and walked away quite normally, so it was just having a rest.

A pair of Egyptian Geese at the Serpentine outflow stood one up, one down, nattering to each other.

A fox has dug an earth under the gum tree by the bandstand lavatories in Hyde Park. The gardeners will not be pleased.

Theodore reports seeing the Peregrine pair in the Cromwell Road this afternoon. I saw a Peregrine on the Knightsbridge Barracks at 12.30. So it seems that there really are two pairs, unless the one in the park made a sudden dash.


  1. Looks like Robins know Christmas is fast approaching - they are Christmas' heralds and messengers after all.

    1. Well, that goes back to the cruel and fortunately lapsed practice of hunting the Robin and the Wren, I think on the 26th. Better to think of the Robin as a Good Friday bird whose front got splashed with blood as it tried to comfort Jesus on the cross with its song. I am not sure when the tradition of the bird as a psychopomp arose -- something that has been mentioned here before.

      Call for the robin-red-breast and the wren,
      Since o'er shady groves they hover,
      And with leaves and flow'rs do cover
      The friendless bodies of unburied men.
      Call unto his funeral dole
      The ant, the field-mouse and the mole,
      To rear him hillocks that shall keep him warm,
      And (when gay tombs are robbed) sustain no harm,
      But keep the wolf far thence, that's foe to men,
      For with his nails he'll dig them up again.
      Let holy Church receive him duly,
      Since he paid the church-tithes truly.

      ― John Webster, The White Devil

    2. What an absolutely wonderful stanza that is (not sure if that's the proper name). There are few modern languages that can match Renaissance English in sonority and flexibility.

    3. It's a song from a play in blank verse, dating from 1612. The White Devil is about sinister events in the corrupt Italian court of Padua a few years earlier, but satirises the state of England under King James I.