Yellow floating beach…

…a sought after Westminster stopover.

Out on the Thames, just opposite our favourite bench on the Victoria Tower Gardens’ embankment, floats a yellow, Palace of Westminster boundary marker. Rocking and swaying with the movements of the tides it has become a convenient stopping place, perch, or sunspot for a number of birds and, to the delight of those who have been lucky enough to see them, a pair of seals.

Cormorant arrives

Since the return of of life to the Thames after its famously having been declared “biologically dead” by the Natural History Museum in 1958, so much progress has been made that there are now said to be around 125 species of fish in the tidal river and estuary. There are plenty of eels along Lambeth Reach, as well as elsewhere along the tidal Thames, and cormorants make the most of them.

Time for a stretch
A pair of cormorants opening out their wings to dry
Immature gull arrives on scene and has a furtive look at a cormorant busily preening itself
Seen you…
Immature gull
Young herring gull Bonzo, whose fans have been left bereft since its departure
A pair of Mallards making themselves at home
Enjoying the view
Crow arrives with a crust of bread and begins to soften it in water on the marker
Crow thoroughly soaking its bread
A pair of Egyptian geese on an inspection tour
Egyptian goose rocked by the tide
A first sighting of a pair of seals having a rest
Seal inspecting the facilities
Contented seal
Seals managing to stay on the marker despite being rocked by the tide

There are a good number of discarded shells on the Victoria Tower Gardens’ foreshore, evidence of life in the river. I’ve seen gulls and crows breaking shells open, and even watched a crow eating a small crab but bigger fish are more difficult to see. However, here are two pictures of successful river *residents* each with an eel meal…

Seal wrestling with and eating an eel
Cormorant subduing and about to eat an eel
Unoccupied marker awaiting visitors, rocked by the wash waves of a passing boat

Further Information
Port of London Authority Marine Mammals in the Tidal Thames
Seal Population in the river Thames: BBC
ZSL Thames Marine Mammal Map