Sunday, 10 August 2014

The male Little Owl was sitting stoically out in heavy rain.

Just up the hill, a Jay picked up a peanut from the top of a stone marking the boundaries of the parishes of St Mary Abbots and Paddington.

Some of them will also take peanuts from your outstretched hand. In bothe cases the bird does it in a non-stop swoop, clearly taking pride in the aerobatic feat.

The Great Crested Grebe family with three chicks were waiting under the stern of the Peter Pan II launch for their mother to return with a fish.

This is one of the young Coots on the Italian Gardens pond. It is just growing its adult flight feathers, but the primaries are still partly encased in their blue covers, which will later split and be removed by preening.

As usual there was a mob of Starlings in the holly tree halfway between Peter Pan and the Italian Garden.

As you can see, the berries are still green and inedible, and it is not clear what the birds like about this tree -- but of course they have to congregate somewhere, and at least it gives them good cover.

Many of the Greylag and Canada geese that spent June and July on the lake to moult and regrow their flight feathers have now left. These three Canada-Greylag hybrids are permanent residents and presumably siblings, as they have been hanging out together for several years.

A few days ago we had a picture of the little Westbourne river flowing into the Long Water around 1840. So here is a hand-coloured engraving of the early 19th century showing the river leaving the park after flowing out of the east end of the Serpentine.

You are looking south and downstream. The buildings flanking the stream stood where the French and Kuwaiti embassies are now. In the background is Knight's Bridge, which for years was the only bridge across the stream for some distance in either direction, and was therefore a notorious haunt of highwaymen who lay in wait to rob travellers. The present day street called Knightsbridge is called after it, of course, and is famous for its expensive shops which, in a way, preserve the tradition.


  1. another amazing scene of old london there. thanks ralph! next time i am at that spot i will visualise that scene. i imagine the house martins may have liked those eaves even then?
    Mark W2

    1. I think that London must have been full of House Martins, Swifts and Swallows then. It's modern buildings that are freezing them out now.

  2. Only nowadays people volunteer to be robbed... Thanks for the history and the interesting picture.
    (I didn't know Greylags & Canadas interbred!)

    1. They shouldn't, should they? -- not even the same genus. But I think that the division between Anser (e.g. Greylag) and Branta (e.g. Canada) is largely the result of ornithologists trying to put things into pigeonholes that look neat to them.