Friday 15 December 2023

Magnolia buds

The male Chaffinch in the Flower Walk perched among the fluffy buds of a magnolia tree. The budding seemed premature, but apparently it's normal for magnolias to put out buds in winter and wait till spring before opening them. The fluff helps to keep the buds from freezing, and there would be sugar in the sap to act as an antifreeze.

A Wren flitted around in the reed bed by the Italian Garden, never emerging fully into view.

The Robin at the Henry Moore sculpture called for attention from a tree before flying down to my hand for a pine nut.

A pair of Magpies were also expecting service ...

... as was a Jay at the back of the Albert Memorial.

The Little Owl at the Round Pond was looking out of her hole.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull eyed a pigeon bathing in the lake. If the pigeon had closed its eyes for a moment when splashing the gull would have run at it, but the pigeon realised its danger and flew away.

The Black-Headed Gull that owns the landing stage was made uneasy by a Herring Gull ...

... so it flew down to the water and expelled another Black-Headed Gull, just to show who was boss.

The Czech Black-Headed Gull ...

... and the familiar EZ73323 ...

... have been squabbling for months over the ownership of a notice post at Fisherman's Keep. But there are two posts here, and the gulls seem finally to have agreed that EZ has the western one and the Czech the eastern one.

A young Grey Heron perched on the mable fountain at the edge of the Italian Garden. It looked over its shoulder as if it felt unsettled at being stared at by a stone nymph.

The heron claiming the nest on the Serpentine island is definitely the one with the very red beak that nested in a hawthorn tree a short way to the west last year. The colour is getting brighter by the day.

But there's no sign of its old mate. There is another heron that stands on the wire basket at the east end, but the two take no notice of each other.

A Cormorant was fishing at the edge of the Italian Garden reed bed. It was doing very well, pulling at least one small fish out of the reeds every minute.

The male Great Crested Grebe of the pair that nested at the bridge attended to his wings, preening them and flapping to settle the feathers properly.

The young female Mute Swan who flew in from Regent's Park is holding her own well in the crowd of adults by the Dell restaurant. She won a bit of pizza, but then had to fend off a Black-Headed Gull that was trying to snatch it.


  1. Let's give our thanks to the magnolia tree. It has provided such a mesmerising background for the picture I nearly gasped out loud.
    Well, it stands to reason that the more eastern gull should take the more eastern post. Let's not be imperialistic here, we may remind it.
    I wonder that Pigeon Eater's prospective prey doesn't wise up to his very distinctive crouch before making a run for it.

    1. I think the pigeons at the Dell restaurant, at any rate those that have been there for some time, do recognise Pigeon Eater and his habits. When he's in a crowd of birds being fed, the pigeons give him a noticeably wide berth. They don't do this for the other gulls. But there will always be some naive new arrivals that ignorantly stray into grabbing range.

  2. What an interesting fact about the Magnolia tree. Nature never ceases to amaze me.