Sunday, 12 April 2015

This morning Des McKenzie saw a Short-Eared Owl heading from Peter Pan across the lake and up Buck Hill. However, it was on its way north and was later seen on Hampstead Heath. This is a species rarely seen in the park.

There are also reports of a pair of Common Scoters seen leaving St James's Park in the direction of Hyde Park. I went round the lake twice but couldn't find them. They are sea ducks and unlikely visitors to an urban park, but have been sighted at least once before as they are on the list at the right of this page.

Otherwise it was an ordinary sunny Sunday with lots of people and not many birds on view. There was a good deal of activity around one of the wire baskets near the bridge, where a Cormorant was fishing. It had no luck, and climbed unsteadily up a chain to perch on one of the posts.

When it was out of the way, a Great Crested Grebe came and soon caught a perch from inside one of the baskets.

Being smaller than Cormorants, and very precise swimmers, they are better at close-quarters fishing. This is one of the grebes that built the nest under the willow tree on the other side of the bridge. They abandoned it and it fell to pieces, but now they have returned and remade it. I still think it's too early for them to succeed. They need fish smaller than this perch to feed young.

This family of Egyptian Geese seen on the Long Water is probably the one from the Lido on a Sunday excursion. I had seen them before at the Lido surrounded by photographers, and they would have been glad of a bit of peace.

The reed raft at the east end of the Serpentine is now home to all kinds of waterfowl, not just Mute Swans but Canada Geese and Greylags, Egyptian Geese, and the white Mallard and her mate.

The Blue Tits' nest on the lamp post behind the Lido is still going strong. It is not being visited as often as before, because the pair have finished building it and the female is sitting. He brings her food from time to time. When the eggs hatch there will be much more activity.

On a tree near Kensington Palace, a Blackbird was climbing around looking for insects in the bark. It is not as good at this as a Treecreeper, but was doing quite well.

The male Little Owl was in his usual tree, and looked out for a few minutes. Although there was sunshine, the day was too windy for him to come out on to a branch.


  1. What a striking changeover of gulls. You’ve helpfully explained that the black-headed go off to breed but could you enlighten me as to where and why the many new bigger gulls have come from? And will presumably return to when the black-headed come back? Thanks.

    1. We have Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls all the year round. There are lots of young Herring Gulls because there is a breeding colony in Paddington.

  2. Thanks. There just seemed an unusually large number of the bigger gulls wheeling around on Sunday and the Sunday before.

  3. Nice captures and description Ralph! So was the mother grebe able to that big (they seem like formidable and pretty fish!) perch herself if not for the chicks then?? Does the fish put up a good fight, if eaten, does she swallow it down wriggling the whole way as well?!


    1. No chicks yet. Our grebes breed very late, no earlier than July, as they have to wait for the spring fish fry to grow big enough.