2018 highlights of a wilder London life

I spent a few days in London in 2018 and managed to squeeze in a couple of trips to The Regent’s Park. After visiting I did some research into the colours of ducks eyes, because there must be some significant evolutionary advantage in making eyes which are so striking. My blogs, The reason ducks have such brilliant eyes, Look into my eyes and Pochard on the Pond, were all about the amazing ducks on the lake. Aren’t they spectacular?

And yes, I know, one of the above is a goose.

As well as ducks, The Regent’s Park lake has many noisy and argumentative Coots. They nest next to the busy boats and pedalos and their chicks are adorable:

I’ll remember 2018 for the thrill of seeing the tenderness with which these adult Coots tended to the every need of their two chicks. The care they gave was exemplary, with tasty morsels of food offered, a dry nest maintained and any interlopers chased off with vigour. Doesn’t it look adorable?

Coot - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’ll also remember 2018 because I loved the experience of seeing the two cute Coot chicks so much that I went back the next day to find that there was only one chick left. I wrote all about it in my And Then There Was One blog. Tragic!

I think I know who might have been responsible:

Grey Heron - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Dastardly.

A real surprise to me was the Little Grebe family. They are so used to the central London crowds that they carry on their lives regardless. They are such shy, skulking birds, ready to dive and head away under water that it was lovely to be let into their domesticity.

I was delighted to have a second trip to see them and wrote all about it in The Little Grebe and the little fish and Little Grebe – big fish.

As well as Little Grebes, the Lake has Great Crested Grebes. This was the first time I’ve been able to get a close view of a juvenile.

Juvenile Great Crested Grebe - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I wrote about it in Juvenile Great Crested Grebe portraits. I’ll just have to come back in 2019 when their chicks are small to see them hitching a ride on their parent’s back. This one was already to large to be carried.

Finally, on an exceptionally hot day, we saw Carrion Crows panting in the sun and I captured some images in Carrion Crow portraits.

Carrion Crow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

In 2019 I’d like to see some more urban birds. Maybe a Peregrine Falcon would be wonderful to see? They must nest on some of London’s tall buildings. The one bird I’d love to see in the wild is a Little Owl. Thanks to my son Gabriel I now know where both nesting trees are in Hyde Park. It’s just a matter of timing the visit right and being prepared for a long wait.

What urban wildlife experiences would you like to have in 2019?

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