Sunday, 15 January 2017

We may have a new Little Owl in Kensington Gardens, or at least we may have found one that was there already. This one was calling from a large oak tree with brambles round the base 100 yards southeast of the Italian Garden. It was small and seemed to be male.

It's possible that he's just the mate of the one in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture, who was also out of her hole in spite of the drizzle.

But there was at least 300 yards between the two, which is a long way for a Little Owl to go from the nest hole.

The female owl near the Albert Memorial was also visible. She has the luxury of a sheltered hole which she can look out of comfortably without getting wet.

The rain had deterred people from coming into the park to feed the Rose-Ringed Parakeets, and instead of the usual Sunday crowd there were only two. That made the parakeets all the keener to be fed, and there were mobs of them in the trees at the corner of the leaf yard.

The male Coal Tit of the pair in the Rose Garden was singing in the intervals of coming down to the feeder. He caches most of the seeds he collects, but paused to eat one on a branch.

The local Robin was also coming to the feeder.

As anyone who feeds birds on their hand will have noticed, Robins don't have a strong grip, and it was having to flutter to stay on. The Coal Tit was nonchalantly perched with its vice-like grip, and a gale wouldn't have blown it off.

A small flock of Long-Tailed Tits was passing through the trees at the bottom of Buck Hill.

The white-faced Blackbird came out on a dead tree near the Italian Garden.

Rain is welcome to Blackbirds. This one at the side of the Dell was hauling worms out of the waterlogged ground every few seconds.

A Carrion Crow at the Dell restaurant was pleased to find that fish was on the menu.

On the restaurant roof, the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate were calling affectionately to each other.

These Mute Swans were also in the mood, though it has to be said that the female was under age.

The Pochard--Tufted Duck hybrid is still in the Italian Garden. She is as large as a Pochard and the same shape, though there is a hint of a tuft on her head. She is intermediate in colour between a greyish-brown female Pochard and a dark brown female Tufted Duck, and has slightly vermiculated plumage like a Pochard. Her eye colour is also intermediate between the brown of a female Pochard (only drakes have red eyes) and the yellow of a Tufted Duck, and is a kind of marmalade colour. The white patches at the base of her bill are larger than those of either parent. This led to her being mistaken for a female Scaup by several people. She also dives as busily as a Scaup and spends more time under water than on the surface.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Kingfisher was back today, in a place where it could be photographed from the Italian Garden at only 50 yards' distance instead of right across the lake.  Hope to find it in the dead willow tree soon for a close shot.

The pair of Gadwalls were back in the Italian Garden pond ...

... along with the Pochard-Tufted Duck hybrid.

They kept very close to the hybrid duck. It is a busy diver, more so than either of its parents, and stirs up a lot of silt from the bottom, which contains small invertebrates that the Gadwalls can eat.

A Shoveller was speeding along at the east end of the lake, raising a bow wave.

A Common Gull was worm dancing in the Diana fountain enclosure.

Did they learn this trick by watching Herring Gulls? Presumably it's transmitted from one Herring Gull to another, since it wouldn't be much use in their original habitat on a rocky shore.

I threw a peanut to a Carrion Crow on the edge of the Serpentine, and a Coot ran in and grabbed it.

But it didn't know what to do with it, and soon the peanut was grabbed by a gull.

When young Herring Gulls get peanuts, they don't seem to know that they are edible either, and play with them. But sooner or later they will crush the shell with their strong bill, and the aroma of something tasty will emerge.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden came out to be given a bit of digestive biscuit.

The usual Dunnock was under the feeder in the Rose Garden.

It's getting quite used to me, so I shall try throwing down some seeds for it. It has to realise that I'm throwing things for it, not at it. The Blackbird has already reached this stage.

There's no problem in feeding the Blue Tits ...

... and Coal Tits at the bridge.

When anyone they know passes, down they come and call for attention.

The female Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was out, despite the persistent drizzle.

So was the female owl near the Albert Memorial, caught here when she paused in the middle of preening.

Friday, 13 January 2017

A shower of sleet in the morning didn't stop a pair of Egyptians from displaying and making the usual raucous din.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial also ignored the weather.

Later the sun came out for a while, but the strong chilly wind kept up, and ruffled this Robin beside the Long Water.

On the other side of the Long Water, the Kingfisher was visible, though the light was poor at this time and it was hard to get a picture at this distance.

A Jay came out of the bushes to apply for a peanut.

Two Feral Pigeons were fighting under the feeder in the Rose Garden.

The local Dunnock sheltered behind a leaf till it was over.

A stripped pigeon caracase near the Dell restaurant showed that the notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate had breakfasted. She was having a rest while she digested another heavy meal. When he turned towards her, the wind picked up his feathers.

The Diana fountain, deserted by people in the foul weather, was full of Herring Gulls looking for worms, drinking, washing, and looning about.

Customers at the Triangle snack bar have to run the gauntlet of an increasing number of Mute Swans.

The Pochard-Tufted Duck hybrid was on one of the ponds in the Italian Garden.

On the lake below, two Shoveller drakes were bobbing their heads to try to attract a female. A fight broke out.

When the winner swam over to the female she was not impressed, and shooed him away.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Steady rain had turned the ground at the side of the leaf yard into a swamp, and a Moorhen was investigating it for worms.

This Robin at the southeast corner of the leaf yard has now paired up with a mate, though they wouldn't get close enough for a joint portrait.

A Song Thrush perched in a tree on the other side of the leaf yard.

A Wren emerged briefly from the reed bed in front of the Diana fountain.

One of the Little Owls near the Henry Moore sculpture, I think the female, was sitting out in the rain, though she went into the hole when I got closer.

The female little Owl near the Albert Memorial was sheltering at the back of her hole in the oak tree.

One of the Jackdaws at the Italian Garden stood on the balustrade to deal with a peanut.

A pair of Grey Herons were in the lowest nest of the three on the island.

The south shore of the Serpentine near the east end was littered with stones, at least fifty of them, brought up by Herring Gulls. It seems that the adults have caught on to the idea that the stones brought up by young gulls as playthings can have useful food on them, presumably small invertebrates in the algae.

A Black-Headed Gull was copying them, though obviously this stone had been brought up by a bigger gull.

A young Herring Gull had a stone too, but one without much growth on it, and was playing with it.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull could take a break from hunting because he and his mate had found a large fish, which they were sharing.

As a contrast to these very grey pictures, here is one from yesterday. Paul Turner was passing the Italian Garden when he saw a Kingfisher in the dead willow tree, and got a good picture of it.