London Birds

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The Natural History Museum is on one side of Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park and I stayed on the other, which means I got to walk through it on the way to and from work. They have some good bird habitat in there. Unfortunately, it’s the only place I got to go birding. There were a couple other parks and a wetland outside the city center I wanted to go to, but I got very tired and my feet got very sore this past week, so I missed out on that.

But it’s okay because Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park are great for birds. The only bird below that I didn’t see there is the Red Kite (it was flying above a station right outside London on the way to the Isle of Wight).

This coot has a nest underneath a solar panel in the middle of a pond

This coot has a nest underneath a solar panel in the middle of a pond


I can't decide if baby European Coots are really ugly or really cute.

I can’t decide if baby European Coots are really ugly or really cute.


One baby climbs up to hang out under its mother with its two siblings (only one visible here)

One baby climbs up to hang out under its mother with its two siblings (only one visible here)

All but the first of the above pictures are from the Italian Garden pools. The first is at Round Pond. The two chicks from the Moorhens’ first brood are foraging by themselves now and their parents are building a second nest. The male runs around looking for choice bits, brings them to the female, and she adds them to the nest.

Handing off nest-building material

Handing off nest-building material


Baby Moorhens look much more normal than baby coots.

Baby Moorhens look much more normal than baby coots.

The Great-crested Grebes on the Long Water (which is an oxbow lake of the Thames) are quite hard to photograph. I happened to be taking pictures when they were actively feeding. As soon as I’d get a shot line up, they’d dive.

Far too many of my grebe photos look like this...

Far too many of my grebe photos look like this…


Great-Crested Grebes are quite pretty

But I did eventually get some decent shots


Common Blackbird hiding under a leaf

Common Blackbird hiding under a leaf


17

They’re quite photogenic


Long-tailed Tits have such tiny beaks!

Long-tailed Tits have such tiny beaks!


Don't let the brown head fool you--this is a Black-Headed Gull

Don’t let the brown head fool you–this is a Black-Headed Gull


As juveniles, their head coloration isn't completely in

This juvenile’s brown head feathers are coming in


Greylag Geese were everywhere

Greylag Geese were everywhere


Male Tufted Duck

Male Tufted Duck


Female Tufted Duck

Female Tufted Duck


Mute Swan

Mute Swan


Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose, an exotic with a breeding population here


Lots of black-and-white feral pigeons here. They're quite pretty

Lots of black-and-white feral pigeons here. They’re quite pretty


Female Red-crested Pochard

Female Red-crested Pochard


Mistle Thrush with an earthworm

Mistle Thrush with an earthworm


Juvenile Eurasian Magpie

Juvenile Eurasian Magpie


Grey Heron trying to catch dinner

Grey Heron trying to catch dinner


A pair of female Mandarin Ducks

A pair of female Mandarin Ducks


Sleepy girl

Sleepy girl

There were other species in the park I was hoping to see. I found out about them because of this wonderful blog by a London birder who goes there every day and keeps track of the daily goings-on of several bird families. Unfortunately, none of the ones he listed the past couple weeks that weren’t already on my list were out when I went looking for them. But it is a great blog, so if you’re interested in birds, you might want to check it out.

Somewhere in this tree is a Little Owl that's hiding from me

Somewhere in this tree is a Little Owl that’s hiding from me

What’s even more fun is that the birds there are so used to humans that most of them ignore or interact with you. I saw one man sitting on a bench with a Carrion Crow eating from his hand. Further up that path, a man was holding his hand out toward some bushes and tits were flying in and grabbing seeds from it. I couldn’t resist doing that myself, so a couple days later I bought a seed & dried fruit mix and went back to those spots. The crow wasn’t around, but the tits were. Someone else was already feeding them when I got there (and a Rose-ringed Parakeet), so I waited until he left to start.

A Great Tit eating from my hand

A Great Tit eating from my hand

Rock Doves showed up, of course, because they always show up when someone’s feeding birds. It was mostly Great Tits eating from my hand, though I did have two Blue Tits come by. Even a European Robin took a seed. I saw a European Nuthatch in the bush, but it couldn’t work up the nerve to take part. A small, skinny squirrel on the ground really wanted some food, but was afraid of the pigeon mob. I tried tossing a big seed his way, but the pigeons immediately converged on that area, so I wasn’t able to feed it, unfortunately. A Eurasian Jay also felt the same way.

I wasn’t going to feed the pigeons since they’re bound to get fed more often, but one clever individual figured out that he could just fly up to my hand instead of waiting at my feet. A couple others tried to follow suit, but there isn’t exactly room for multiple Rock Doves on my hand. They either landed right on top of him or they had beak battles because they didn’t want to share (just like the parakeets I used to have, actually). So I ended up slowly shaking out seeds on the ground while holding one hand up for the tits.

Some of the tits I saw this week had scraggly feathers. One of the Blue Tits that came to my hand actually had a completely bald head. After some online sleuthing, it turns out that they can lose feathers that way if their nests are infected with mites. But it’s not fatal and they will regain all their feathers some time after fledging.

And at one point I ran into a ton of rabbits.

For some reason, there were a lot of bunnies on this small patch of green. Only about  a third of them visible here.

For some reason, there were a lot of bunnies on this small patch of green. Only about a third of them visible here.


Looking out for danger

Looking out for danger

Many of the birds I saw in London were repeats from Paris, but I still got 12 lifers:

  1. *European Herring Gull
  2. Rock Dove
  3. Wood Pigeon
  4. European Starling
  5. Common Blackbird
  6. Eurasian Magpie
  7. Carrion Crow
  8. *Mistle Thrush
  9. Great Tit
  10. *Long-tailed Tit
  11. Eurasian Robin
  12. Mallard
  13. *Red-crested Pochard
  14. *Great Crested Grebe
  15. Mute Swan
  16. *Greylag Goose
  17. Tufted Duck
  18. *Egyptian Goose (I’ve seen one in the US, but they’re all escapees there.)
  19. European Coot
  20. Common Moorhen
  21. Rose-ringed Parakeet
  22. *Goldcrest
  23. *European Nuthatch
  24. *Mandarin Duck (another exotic with an established breeding population)
  25. Blue Tit
  26. *Grey Heron
  27. Common Pochard (I’ve seen one in China before)
  28. Black-headed Gull
  29. *Red Kite
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