Saturday 10 February 2024

In the plum blossom

Four Redwings looked for worms under a tree on the Parade Ground. There were others up in the tree, but it was too distant for their quiet chatter to come out on the soundtrack.

Nearby at the back of the Cavalry Memorial a Song Thrush was singing, but I couldn't get a clear view of it. A Blackbird foraged on the ground below.

The Robin by the Henry Moore sculpture was giving a fine performance. There are two here now, beginning to pair up but still wary of each other.

Several Blue Tits came to feed at the shrubbery near Mount Gate ...

... but the Coal Tit is still hesitating.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was with his mate on the roof of the Dell restaurant. You can tell from a distance whether he's around, as there are no other big gulls in that corner of the lake.

A Black-Headed Gull preening on a rail at the Lido was all dressed up and ready to go to the breeding ground when spring approaches. That could be anywhere from a landfill site in Essex to a lake in Russia.

The gull at the landing stage has been in breeding plumage for months.

Our longstanding Polish visitor T4UN is well on the way.

The Grey Herons' nest, top left in this picture, has now almost vanished into blossom, though I could just see a heron in it from another angle. Its mate waited below.

The widowed heron is still obstinately clinging to last year's nest at the west end of the island. Time to forget, and go and find a new mate. Herons often change mates from year to year, unlike constant Mute Swans and Great Crested Grebes.

The male grebe from the island was fishing at the outflow. The pair have taken over the superior nest site at the east end of the island, vacated by the pair who left with their teenager before the frosty spell.

A blossoming cherry plum tree at the Triangle provided food for a Wood Pigeon and Buff-Tailed Bumblebee, while a Blue Tit looked for larvae and a couple of Magpies just found it a good place to hang out.

In the Rose Garden several more Buff-Tailed Bumblebees ...

... browsed on a mahonia bush.

Near the Albert Memorial there was a tribute to the dead, not just the usual flowers but also fruit for the afterlife.


  1. Hi Ralph,

    the pigeon eating gull is rather iconic and smart. I was walking past one morning this week and he was pretending he was dozing off in front of 3 preening pigeons and suddenly he pounced but pigeons managed to escape.

    If anyone could ever pay for his taxidermy, I would put him into The Tring museum! What is his best strategy to catch a pigeon?


    1. Don't dream of stuffing him, he could live another ten years, even fifteen. He'll probably see me out.

      His best strategy is discussed in my bloody film which I know you can't bear to watch. Wait till a pigeon is bathing and preening on the edge. At some point it will shut an eye on the gull's side. Then he'll run at it headlong, carry it into the water and kill it.

  2. I wonder about that fruit offering. Have you ever seen the like before? I'm trying to guess the religion of the dead to whom it was offered.

    1. I've seen food offerings before when a Chinese student drowned in the Serpentine. I've also seen Christians of West Indian ancestry pouring libations of beer during a family picnic beside a relative's grave in an Anglican cemetery. It seemed to me a beautiful custom, if a shade unorthodox.