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
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)
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
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…
But I did eventually get some decent shots
Common Blackbird hiding under a leaf
They’re quite photogenic
Long-tailed Tits have such tiny beaks!
Don’t let the brown head fool you–this is a Black-Headed Gull
This juvenile’s brown head feathers are coming in
Greylag Geese were everywhere
Male Tufted Duck
Female Tufted Duck
Egyptian Goose, an exotic with a breeding population here
Lots of black-and-white feral pigeons here. They’re quite pretty
Female Red-crested Pochard
Mistle Thrush with an earthworm
Juvenile Eurasian Magpie
Grey Heron trying to catch dinner
A pair of female Mandarin Ducks
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
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
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.
Looking out for danger
Many of the birds I saw in London were repeats from Paris, but I still got 12 lifers:
- *European Herring Gull
- Rock Dove
- Wood Pigeon
- European Starling
- Common Blackbird
- Eurasian Magpie
- Carrion Crow
- *Mistle Thrush
- Great Tit
- *Long-tailed Tit
- Eurasian Robin
- *Red-crested Pochard
- *Great Crested Grebe
- Mute Swan
- *Greylag Goose
- Tufted Duck
- *Egyptian Goose (I’ve seen one in the US, but they’re all escapees there.)
- European Coot
- Common Moorhen
- Rose-ringed Parakeet
- *European Nuthatch
- *Mandarin Duck (another exotic with an established breeding population)
- Blue Tit
- *Grey Heron
- Common Pochard (I’ve seen one in China before)
- Black-headed Gull
- *Red Kite