Saturday 23 December 2023

A Finnish gull

A grey and uneventful day was brightened by a good view of the Little Owl at the Round Pond, who had come out at the front of her hole.

The only other notable event was the reappearance of the Finnish Black-Headed Gull, ST292.799, which I last saw in 2019. It was on the north shore of the Serpentine near the boathouse, and stood patiently while I trotted around it photographing the ring from every angle to get the complete number. All too often this makes them fly away before you've finished.

The aggressive gull at the landing stage was keeping watch from the head of the Big Bird statue.

The odd couple of a Lesser Black-Backed Gull and a Herring Gull called to each other by the Triangle car park.

The pigeon eater, in his usual place by the Dell restaurant, was looking cross because the press of crowds visiting the Winter Wasteland had dispersed the pigeons, and he hadn't had his lunch.

The vast majority of the Herring Gulls on the lake are in their first or second year. This seems to show that the breeding colony in Paddington is expanding rapidly. In contrast the Black-Headed Gulls, which breed elsewhere, are mostly adults -- though the effect is skewed because they grow up in two years while the big gulls take four.

On the island one pair of Grey Herons tinkered with the twigs on their nest, and one of them affectionately preened the other. They haven't started sitting yet ...

... but the other pair has, and this is the third day I've seen a sitting bird on the nest. However, it's almost impossible to get a recognisable picture. You can just see its head through the twigs in the top right corner.

A young heron perched on the marble fountain in the Italian Garden.

Great Crested Grebes claim territories even when not nesting, and border disputes are common. Usually they content themselves with adopting the low threat posture and circling and diving, as here, and seldom fight. The last scene shows one of the other pair doing the same thing in the opposite direction.

Moorhens spend most of their time mildly pottering around looking for small edible creatures, and here are an adult and a teenager in the Italian Garden, and an adult on the edge of the Serpentine. But if a Moorhen sees a Black-Headed Gull standing on a post, it greatly enjoys knocking it off.

A few years ago there were two Canada Geese with white-speckled heads on the Serpentine, probably siblings. One of them stayed here, but sadly became ill and died a few months ago. I'm not sure whether this one is the survivor or another bird. It only appeared (or reappeared) recently.

A Gadwall drake looked quietly smart at the Lido. The vermiculated pattern on their feathers is wonderful.

A Pied Wagtail hunted along the edge.

A Robin sang in the Rose Garden shrubbery.


  1. Hi Ralph, AT LAST the little owl is showing well.....thanks to your dogged perseverance, today's picwas superb,as was the lovely gadwall.regards,Stephen.

    1. Two visits every day do produce results from time to time.

  2. Or is it that the immature Herring Gulls are more gregarious, whereas the adults will mostly be in pairs and minding some kind of territory all year round? Jim

    1. Could be. But the park must be prime scavenging territory.