Thursday 8 February 2024

Separate tables

It was a grey drizzly day. Feral Pigeons sheltered under the cornice of the Italian Garden loggia.

It was a worse day for two other pigeons. I saw the female Peregrine on the barracks tower and went over to photograph her dangling one lethal claw over the edge.

As I left I looked back. From that distance you could see on to the ledge where her mate was eating a pigeon he had caught. He wasn't offering any to her.

A couple of minutes later I saw a distant form speeding towards the tower. It was the female: she had flown out and caught a pigeon for herself. It was an impossible shot from that distance, so I hurried back and there she was on the ledge with her kill.

Here they are both enjoying their lunch at separate tables.

The cherry plum tree in the shrubbery below the Triangle car park was full of Wood Pigeons eating the blossom.

The Redwings on the Parade Ground were twittering mildly in the trees and not coming down to feed ...

... but there was a closer view of a Pied Wagtail sprinting over the muddy churned-up surface looking for insects.

A Dunnock was on the same quest in the bushes beside the Lido restaurant terrace.

A Robin sang on top of a climbing rose in the Rose Garden.

A Blue Tit perched on a blossoming cherry tree behind the Albert Memorial.

A Coal Tit near Mount Gate very nearly came to my hand but panicked at the last moment. It will come in time.

The male Chaffinch turned up, hungry as usual ...

... but this time accompanied by his mate.

The No Swimming sign on the south side of the Serpentine was occupied by the Czech Black-Headed Gull, which seems to be able to knock its British rival EZ73323 off any time it likes.

The Grey Heron on the nest was standing behind the tree trunk and could only be partially glimpsed. The other one looked down from a treetop.

The killer Mute Swan was cruising around the Serpentine looking for trouble, while his mate and the teenagers assembled on the gravel strip on the Long Water.

The blighted daffodils on the Serpentine Road have staged a remarkable recovery from being stifled under a ramp, and are blooming well.


  1. I'm absurdly invested in those daffodils. There is something massively hopeful in the notion of their flowering after being trampled and stifled.

    The first picture of the different-coloured pigeons and the lighter one perched on top of what looks like the mask of tragedy, juxtaposed to the tragedy really occurring to the other pigeons who provided lunch to the Peregrine couple, is nothing short of amazing. Can we say, by the way, that Mr and Mrs Peregrine stay together just for the kids' sake?

    1. The tragic face is that of the river god of the Westbourne, which used to flow directly under him to feed the lake. Suburban spread made his water so foul that in 1860, when Prince Albert had the Italian Garden made, the river was diverted around the lake in a pipe and a borehole was sunk to feed the lake with clean water. So he is sad that his river has been sidetracked. What makes it worse for him is that his attendant nymphs are now in his sight at the far end of the Italian Garden disloyally pouring borehole water, not his water, into the lake from their urns. I don't know whether the sculptor of this head, which forms the keystone of the central arch of the loggia, intended to make him look miserable or just give an impression of flowing in his hair and beard, but he really does looks royally peeved.

      I don't think that the Peregrines have ever managed to breed, though I have seen them mating on the ledge of the barracks. I've been trying to push for a nesting tray to be put up, but with nom ore effect than that bumblebee on the gate.

  2. Does the advanced claw indicate the falcon is preparing to push herself off the ledge or over the edge for a strike, or not especially?

    It does seem very early for cherry blossom, mind you also my cherry laurel has got its flower buds already, just as I was planning to prune it some more. Jim

    1. Not especially, I think. It was several minutes before she took off to catch her pigeon. And a Peregrine's mighty wings will lift it from wherever it happens to be standing, without preparation.

      It does look as if everything is rushing into blossom this year, but it's not too late for a nasty icy setback, and the forecasters (for what they are worth, which is not much) seem to expect that. Trees that blossom prematurely and are then chilled seem to recover well and start again.

  3. it can be difficult to persuade one’s spouse to share a snack at times,… I too am overjoyed about the daffodils,. Pity about the RedWings, I may need to come in pursuit sometime over the next few days.

    1. What impressed me most about the female Peregrine was the way she got a pigeon so soon after taking off, as easily as getting a snack out of the refrigerator. She didn't see it passing under the tower and stoop on it, she caught it a couple of hundred yards from the tower. Possibly with her superb vision she saw it coming from a distance.