Tuesday 11 June 2024

Appearing at the Serpentine Gallery

The male Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery hadn't shown up for some time, and I was beginning to get worried about him. But today I heard the unmistakable call of a male owl, and after a good deal of dashing around under the nest tree managed to see him looking down from a high branch.

The owl at the Round Pond was fluffed up to the max in the chilly wind blasting over this exposed place.

A Jay appeared at the southwest corner of the bridge. Its Groucho Marx moustache gives it a louche look.

There used to be a Jay in the trees to the east of the Albert Memorial that came out as regular as clockwork to take peanuts from my hand. Several months ago it disappeared and I thought that was the end of it. But today what I think is the same Jay was back in the same place, and sure enough it flew down to snatch a peanut in flight.

A Carrion Crow on the lawn below neatly shelled a peanut I gave it.

A family group of Long-Tailed Tits was in the trees to the east of the Lido, a place where they are often seen.

There is a family of Wrens in the reeds by the Italian Garden. I photographed the adults two days ago, but Ahmet Amerikali was here today and got a fine picture of one of the young ones.

This Blackbird in the Dell seems to be a very dark female. When I first saw it I thought it was an immature male that hadn't yet developed its yellow bill and eye ring, but it's the wrong time of year for that as the chicks are still young and light coloured.

The young Grey Heron was at the Triangle again. Someone started feeding the geese and it trotted over to grab a share.

The geese feeding on the south side of the lake included the very pale Greylag, which is not completely white like a leucistic bird. The colour is known as 'isabel' or 'isabelline' after Queen Isabel I of Castile. In 1491 her husband King Ferdinand went away to besiege Granada, and she vowed that she wouldn't change her underclothes till he returned successfully. The siege took eight months, by which time her underclothes had seriously lost their pristine whiteness. The goose seems to be a genuinely wild Greylag, not a domestic one, since it's normal sized.

One of the Bar-Headed x Greylag hybrids from St James's Park has come to moult as usual, It's three quarters Bar-Headed and looks almost exactly like a pure bred one.

The two Canada families were together on the Long Water.

The biggest of the four assorted Egyptian goslings has grown into a handsome teenager.

The two Mandarin drakes in eclipse had found each other at the Vista.

One of the Coots with chicks under the parapet of the Italian Garden pulled up a beakful of algae.

A female Common Blue Damselfly appeared, oddly a long way from the nearest water, on a Jerusalem Sage leaf in the Rose Garden. It was also there yesterday but I couldn't get a picture. As usual with Damselflies females can have a range of colours, in this case a mustardy brown.

There is a saying 'Quivering like an aspen'. Well here is an aspen quivering in the wind. It's a kind of poplar, aptly called Populus tremula, with very thin leaf stems that allow the leaves to flutter in the slightest breeze.

A guerilla artist had planted a tiny rival art gallery next to the Serpentine Gallery. It has a collage called 'Memories' and what in a big gallery would be called an Installation of Found Objects. It was much more fun than anything that's been in the Serpentine Gallery for years.


  1. Hi Ralph, Groucho Marx jays and pop up art galleries, you are full of surprises !!.....glad to see "your" jay was only M.I.A.and NOT D.E.A.D.......am awaiting the "birds of London" book with some excitement, thanks again for the "heads up" regards,stephen..

    1. Well, the tiny art gallery wasn't my surprise. As far as I could see it was unsigned (I took a close-up shot of the collage) so I have no idea who did it, but guerilla art is a fine thing. I have a friend who helped to install a fair-sized sculpture in a square in Notting Hill one night, using quick-setting cement for the base. It's still there. I think.

  2. Anything that aims to subvert subsidised 'art' is welcome in my book.
    Sometimes I fantasize with the idea of attaching a tiny gopro to birds so I know what they're doing with themselves when they disappear for long stretches of time, and then pop back as if nothing happened.

    1. There is the famous YouTube Video of Dora the Peregrine with a camera on her back. And of course there are nest cameras for all kinds of birds. But that's all so far. As cameras get smaller and transmitters more powerful, there should be room for improvement.

  3. Sad to say, we are down to just two blackbirds at St James's Park now - hope they are doing better at your end. :(

    1. In the whole park? That's awful. We still have far more, though it would take one of Roy Sanderson's mass one-day surveys to find out just how many.

  4. In that case, please send a few over - am offering £5 per bird. ;)