Tuesday 13 February 2024

Misled by Siskins

A little band of Siskins twittered amicably in a tree beside the Long Water. I was baffled by them, as Siskins are very rare in the park. I looked through all the finches in Collins and mistakenly dismissed Siskins, as these birds were much greener than the ones in the illustration, so I put them down as Greenfinches and only realised what they were when it was pointed out to me later.

It was a drizzly day. A Great Tit came out in a camellia bush in the Flower Walk ...

... and was joined by the usual Chaffinch.

The Robin at the Henry Moore sculpture was also applying to be fed.

The one in the Rose Garden shrubbery was on the ground looking for worms brought up by the rain.

The Redwings on the Parade Ground had gone back up the hill, so there was no chance of a good picture. Some could be seen distantly in the trees.

A white Feral Pigeon sheltered under the cornice of the Italian Garden loggia. Although the nymph is one of an identical pair flanking the river god of the Westbourne, they are not water nymphs. They have fruity earrings and garlands of wheat. It's hard to say what kind of nymph they are: possibly Meliades, who are associated with fruit trees.

The female Peregrine was by herself on the tower. I didn't see the male at any time.

The Black-Headed Gull was guarding his territory on the landing stage.

This Grey Heron on the nest at the west end of the island is not the one with the red bill that usually stands there. Has the widowed heron found a mate? We'll have to see over the next few days.

There was no one on the Lido restaurant terrace, so the young heron had to do a bit of honest fishing at the swimming area.

A Moorhen poked around looking for something edible -- which for a Moorhen means almost anything.

The young Moorhens in the Italian Garden are growing up, but it will still be several months before they look fully adult.

The male Egyptian was by himself while his mate is nesting.

The male at the Henry Moore is near the end of his 30-day vigil and should see his goslings soon.

A Pochard drake ...

... and a female at the Lido.

Crocuses are coming up beside the Albert Memorial.


  1. There wouldn't be juvenile Greenfinches at this time of year Ralph. It's a female Siskin & all the birds in this video are Siskins. You can see the black cap & chin on the singing male. Shame you didn't realise what they were at the time. Lovely birds to have!

    There's been a small flock at the London Wetland Centre most of the winter.

    1. Oh dear, that was a bad mistake. I was baffled when I was filming them and looked at all the finches in Collins, dismissing Siskins because these birds were quite a strong green and not much like the ones illustrated. Thanks for setting me right.

  2. My pleasure Ralph. They certainly look quite greenish here. You can also see the bill is much finer than the stouter bill of Greenfinch.

  3. Wow, siskins! They are such a rarity here, one has to trek north to be able to see them. Congratulations!
    I'm very baffled about the nymph. Wheat garlands are entirely out of character for Greek nymphs as far as I know. I very much doubt they are Horae, as they should be three not two. Maybe they are representations of agriculture, to go with the river?

    1. I've only seen a Siskin once before in the park, in an alder near the Henry Moore, a reliable tree for seed-eating birds. It was quite low down and easy to recognise from a side view, unlike yesterday's where I was looking almot vertically upwards. These also flew into an alder, whose dense twigs and little black fruits made it impossible to get any more pictures.

    2. Actually I suspect Victorian vagueness about the identity of those nymphs. The loggia is not like the Albert Memorial with its complex iconographic scheme where every figure has a nailed-down identity.