Thursday 15 February 2024

More Siskins and a Mediterranean Gull

The Siskins were still here today, at least twenty of them, and I managed to get a better video of a male eating seeds in an alder tree near the Italian Garden.

And here is a female in the same tree.

A Goldcrest appeared in the Rose Garden shrubbery ...

... and a Robin sang. It's very hard to film a bird singing without shrieks from Rose-Ringed Parakeets in the background. A man has now started feeding these invasive pests in the Rose Garden, making things worse.

The Robin at the Henry Moore sculpture was singing better than this, as a procession of police cars passed with their sirens blaring. By the time they'd all gone it had stopped and flown away.

A Jackdaw followed me into the Rose Garden shrubbery and applied for a peanut. They're now regularly seen all the way to the east end of the park, having slowly expanded their territory since they returned to Kensington Gardens in 2016.

The Parade Ground was busy with tractors harrowing the soil to prepare it for laying turf, and the Redwings had taken to the trees. They'll come down again when it gets a bit quieter to look for worms turned up by the harrow.

The Peregrines were on the tower. They seem to be perching closer than they used to. Perhaps they're finally getting used to each other after years of standoffishness.

Bill Haines found a Mediterranean Gull on the Round Pond. As I arrived to look for it, it flew away in the direction of the Serpentine. After hunting all round the lake with binoculars I finally found it on a moored pedalo, much too far away for a decent picture.

Some good news: as I thought, the widowed Grey Heron really has found a new mate. They were together in the nest at the west end of the island.

The other pair were also together in their nest, almost hidden by plum blossom.

The male Great Crested Grebe from the island was fishing in the water below.

Sad to say, the Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond are down to their last gosling.

The male at the Henry Moore is still waiting. It seems like an age since the female started nesting, but I looked up my first picture of him alone and it was taken not so long ago, on 20 January. So it will be a few more days before anything happens. The gestation period is 28 to 30 days.

On an unseasonably mild day, several Buff-Tailed Bumblebees were browsing on a mahonia bush at the bridge.

The crocuses on the east side of the Albert Memorial are in full flower.


  1. Good to see you connected with the Siskins properly this time. Alders can be a magnet for them as well as for Goldfinches & Redpolls.

    Lovely ad Med Gull coming into breeding plumage. Interestingly one was also reported at the London Wetland Centre, so maybe a small movement over London yesterday, assuming different birds? Don't know the age of the LWC bird.

    1. A Med Gull was also seen in Kew Gardens yesterday morning. I have no photograph. The one here was quite distinctive with its two-thirds complete black head.

    2. I didn't hear about that one. Never heard of one there but of course they can turn up any where. It's the first week in a while I haven't had time to visit there.

    3. Quite possibly the one from Barnes, since the two places are close. But it does also seem likely that more than one Med Gull has been around.

  2. No way! A Mediterranean Gull would be a new species for me!

    1. I couldn't find it today, which doesn't mean it wasn't there.

  3. I don't know why they call it Mediterranean Gull, to be honest. it's common as dirt in reservoirs in western Spain.
    A completely leucistic Black-headed Gull was filmed yesterday in Madrid doing the worm dance:
    I thought it was only bigger gulls that did it, but it seems the behaviour is spreading.

    1. The distribution map for the Mediterranean Gull in Collins shows its winter range as the entire Mediterranean coast except Libya, plus most of the Black Sea and the west coast of Europe as far north as southern Britain taking in the entire outline of Iberia, so it is, you might say, Mediterranean plus.

      Interesting white-headed gull. I've occasionally seen normal Black-Headed Gulls doing the worm dance here, and also Common Gulls and Lesser Black-Backs as well as the Herring Gulls that do it most. Gulls learn to imitate a visibly successful feeding method.

  4. Mediterranean gulls breed in RSPB Belfast. We had 5 pairs last year. Also saw 17 last week in Northumberland.

    1. They don't come inland much, hence their rarity in London.