When GodDaughter2 and I took a walk through Hyde Park last week, we inevitably walked past the Serpentine, and next to the Serpentine, there was a lot of bird feeding going on, and I mean a lot. Great screaming flocks of birds, birds of all sorts all muddled together, were assembling themselves around happy humans, who were chucking stuff at them. It was also noticeable how very insistent birds were about checking out strangers, like me, to see what stuff we might have on our persons to chuck at them.
Here is a particularly fun photo I took of all this avian drama, fun because it turned out so artistic, being mainly monochrome (because photoed into the sun) and monochrome is artistic. Monochrome, that is, apart from the bright red feet of one of the bigger birds (also because photoed into the sun – this time with the sun shining through those feet), which makes the photo even more artistic:
But why was all this bird-on-human excitement happening, so intensely and on such a scale?
The answer lay in a shop next to the water. To my extreme shame, I did not photo the outside of this shop and cannot recall what it looked like. I only snapped interior scenes, of intriguing products on sale inside the shop. One of these products was the answer to this bird-human mystery.
The usual feelings that humans have about feeding birds in parks are (1) Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to feed the birds? But also (2) Don’t feed the birds! It will give them a stomach ache. It might even kill them. Don’t feed the birds! Often there are signs to this effect.
But at the Serpentine, there is a different and non-contradictory regime in place. Feed the birds … this! And all was explained:
I computer enhanced that to make it less dim and dreary, what with the dim and dreary (at least compared to the bedazzlement outside) interior light.
You can bet that the shop assistants in that shop spent a quite large proportion of their day explaining to customers that yes, we know, you want to have fun feeding the birds! But, no indeed, you must not feed the birds human food! So, feed them this food! Fun for you! Food for the birds! Win win!