Friday 1 December 2023

Rival songs

The Robin on the edge of the Rose Garden had to shout to make its song heard over the cheesy Christmas songs coming out of the Winter Wasteland. Urban Robins, and songbirds in general, are used to noise and sing louder than their country cousins.

A tree beside the Serpentine had a mixed flock of tits going through it. A Coal Tit caught what looks like an aphid ...

... and a Long-Tailed Tit in the top of the tree had a very small spider.

The Grey Wagtail was hunting along the shore at the Lido.

The female of the local Pied Wagtail pair was farther along than the Grey Wagtail, so there was no clash.

A Jackdaw looked out from a twig with a background of yellow leaves.

A Carrion Crow perched on a branch in the swamp cypress by the Italian Garden. These coniferous trees shed their needles in autumn, first going a bright ginger colour.

A pair of Magpies chased me right down one side of the Long Water.

It was a cold morning and the Little Owl at the Round Pond was staying well down in her hole. When I went back in the afternoon she was still inside.

The Polish Black-Headed Gull White T4UN was in its usual place on the north shore of the Serpentine. I looked up its record. It was ringed as a chick in the Mokre Łąki park at Truskaw on the western outskirts of Warsaw on 14 June 2012, and turned up in Kensington Gardens on 25 January 2013, evidently having flown in with some other gulls from the same place. Since then it's been seen here every winter.

The youngest Great Crested Grebe is still on the Serpentine with its parents. Two frosty nights have still not frozen the lake, and the temperature seems to be rising slightly, so the family shouldn't be trapped. The young one probably can't fly yet, so they all have to remain whatever happens.

The pair from the bridge were up by Peter Pan in a golden reflection.

I don't know where this male in winter plumage is from. I think he flew on to the lake the night before last, maybe having been frozen out of a smaller pond in outer London where it was colder. He was on the Long Water side of the bridge.

Two Gadwall drakes were fighting on the Long Water, slightly surprising to see in such usually peaceful ducks.

Shovellers and Pochards fed quietly, taking no notice of the kerfuffle.

The Mallard pair have been away from the Dell for a while, but today they were back and have promptly ousted the Moorhens from their favourite rock.


  1. What a fantastic photo of the two Grebes side by side. Looking flawless as usual.

  2. I have to ask, if only so I can sleep with a calmer mind: what is the typical strategy if they happen to be frozen in in the lake or pond? I imagine they know what to do, even if it makes them nervous to be in such a situation.
    The 'music' from the appropriately named Wasteland is, well, a waste. Poor Robin ought not to be forced to sing its little lungs off against the godless racket.

    1. They can cope. There's always a bit of clear water, and they can fish under the edge of the ice. I've seen a careless grebe on the Long Water that got stuck in a small pool at the Italian Garden end actually running on the ice to get to a larger clear patch farther down the lake. It kept falling over, but it got there.

  3. Great background in the crow photo :)

    1. That ginger colour is a bit sinister. It's the colour of dead coniferous trees, and makes it look as if the whole tree had died rather than merely being about to shed its needles.