Saturday, 7 July 2012

Black-Headed Gulls are now returning in serious numbers, and will be with us till next spring. As soon as they see anyone feeding birds at the lakeside they flock to the scene uttering the loud sardonic cries that have given them the species name ridibundus, 'the one who laughs a lot'.

My friend, and the former head of the Royal Parks Wildlife Group, Roy Sanderson comes to the lake in winter to ring these gulls, and exchanges information with other bird ringers and interested people about their movements. It isn't easy to read a ring on a gull because the aluminium rings are small and the stamped letters not sharply defined. You sometimes see birdwatchers with powerful scopes looking along this line of posts opposite the Peter Pan statue, hoping that a gull will turn around so that they can read the other half of the number on the ring. If any reader should be lucky enough to see a complete number on any gull, please post it on the comments on this blog. Whatever it is, Roy will be interested, and might have a bit of that bird's history to relate, which of course I would publish here.

Roy also ringed one of the Ring-Necked Parakeets, shown here.

The aggrieved bird bit his finger to the bone, and he had to rush off to the Lido restaurant, bleeding copiously, to beg a plaster from the staff. This experiment will not be repeated. The parakeet has now recovered her composure and, when she is here, often comes down to eat peanuts off my hand. She has never bitten me.

The seven Mute Swan cygnets from the Lido have now grown quite large, and are well practised at scrounging food off the park visitors, who are happy to comply.

But soon they will be too large to be considered cute, and will have to fend for themselves.


  1. On the subject of suffering fingers, I have just realised the source of bleeding scratches on my right thumb. Some of the swans (I think the females) have become unnecessary agressive about taking (snatching) bread from one's hand. Should I try gloves?

    1. I also got bitten by a swan when giving him a piece of digestive biscuit. Solution: a larger piece of biscuit held by the end away from the swan. Their beaks are not sharp, but they have quite a bruising effect when you get clamped.