Friday, 21 October 2016

An old friend is back, the Black-Headed Gull with ring number EY09813. It was ringed as an adult by Roy Sanderson in 2010 and has been on the Long Water every winter since then, on the posts in the Long Water at the Vista. As soon I came by it recognised me and flew over to catch bits of digestive biscuit in the air, clearly enjoying its agility.

I didn't mean to feed this Lesser Black-Backed Gull. I threw a peanut to a Carrion Crow and the gull grabbed it. Unlike a crow, it can't hold the nut down with its feet to peck it open, since gulls' feet are small and weak. So it crushed the shell with its strong beak to get the nuts out.

By the way, this is the Lesser Black-Back that is having a go at pigeon hunting on the south bank of the Serpentine.

Gulls don't always win. Someone threw a bread roll into the lake and a young Herring Gull took it.

But it was barged out of the way by a Mute Swan, which shook the roll to break it into pieces that could be swallowed.

In doing this, the swan dropped the roll, and the gull tried to grab it back, but the swan seized it again.

A Grey Heron which had been watching from the shore saw its opportunity and waded in to grab the roll from the swan.

And it was the heron which won in the end and ate the roll.

Here is another battle, this time for a toy, a conker (which for overseas readers is a horse chestnut seed). A young Herring Gull was playing with it in the rapids of the Diana fountain, and a Carrion Crow wanted it.

The gull came ashore and waved its toy at the crow.

The crow took off, flew round the back of the gull, and seized the conker.

But it dropped it. In the ensuing scuffle the conker fell into the water. The gull had therefore technically won, since it could retrieve the conker and the crow couldn't. But it decided that the game was no fun any more, and flew away.

A Cormorant on the island was playing with leaves, throwing them up in the air and catching them. Perhaps this is useful practice for catching fish.

A Great Crested Grebe scratched its ear with its foot.

A Jay looked at me expectantly.

I held up a peanut, and the Jay flew down and neatly took it from my fingers.

A Blackbird was shaking earth off a worm it had dug up.

A Long-Tailed Tit was looking for insects on a twig.

The Mistle Thrushes were on Buck Hill, some feeding in the grass and others eating rowan berries.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Winter migrant Song Thrushes have arrived in the park. There was one in the Little Owls' chestnut tree ...

... and another eating yew berries near Peter Pan.

I went up Buck Hill to see if there were any other arrivals in the rowan trees. A Mistle Thrush dashed into one of the trees, pursued by a Sparrowhawk. The hawk kept on the far side of the tree from me and then flew away, but I managed to get a picture of it in the air.

After two day's absence, the female Little Owl made a welcome reappearance.

Here is a better photograph of the Tawny Owl in Palace Gardens Terrace, a short way from the west side of Kensington Gardens. It was taken yesterday evening. The owl sits on this bird feeder because the spilt sunflower seeds under it attract mice -- so it's a bird feeder in a different sense. Thanks to Caroline Robertson for this picture.

Two Grey Herons chased each other round the Long Water.

After yesterday's picture of Cormorants being polite to each other, here is one of them being hostile. They were on the fallen poplar tree in the Long Water. The one that was having its leg bitten flew off in a hurry.

There was a Great Black-Backed Gull on the posts near the bridge.

Shovellers were shovelling under the blackberry bushes overhanging the Long Water near the Italian Garden.

A Moorhen was looking for crumbs on a plate at the Dell Restaurant.

A Dunnock searching for grubs under a bench in the Rose Garden paused and stared curiously at the camera.

A squirrel was drinking at the Diana fountain in the Rose Garden. When it had finished, it continued to stare down at its reflection.

I don't think it's admiring itself like Narcissus. I don't think it recognises the reflection as being of itself. It's probably wondering why there's another squirrel upside down in the water.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

You might suppose that these two Cormorants near the island where having a dispute about who would sit on the post. But instead, one of them was politely asking the other to go fishing with it. They both jumped down into the water and swam off side by side.

A young Moorhen had climbed to the top of the plants in a floating raft and was eating the seeds.

The formerly white Mallard, now a warm cream colour, had been going around with his mate and another drake. These ménages à trois are quite usual for ducks -- understandable when you consider that there are usually more males than females.

This Black-Headed Gull has the Dutch ring code EE5T. I've written to the ringer and will pass on any history if it's interesting.

There was a lot of activity in the rowan trees on Buck Hill. A Magpie was occupying one of them and not letting any smaller birds into it.

The next tree had a noisy flock of Starlings in it.

And a Blackbird was also enjoying the berries.

A short way down the hill, another Blackbird was eating blackberries from a bramble growing up an oak tree.

The same tree also had a Treecreeper picking grubs out of the deeply fissured bark.

On the other side of the Long Water, some Rose-Ringed Parakeets were browsing in a cotoneaster bush.

A Jackdaw in the Diana fountain enclosure had found a horse chestnut seed and was pecking it open. I hope it found it unpalatable, as the seeds are moderately toxic to most species.

A Wren was looking for insects on the edge of the reed bed near the bridge.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A Carrion Crow at the Dell restaurant was feeling bumptious. When the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull left its pigeon for a moment, the crow took it.

Then a young Herring Gull came down and seized the pigeon.

It won this confrontation, and started eating the pigeon.

When the Lesser Black-Back returned, he found he couldn't deal with the Herring Gull, which was larger than him, and had to go away and hunt for another.

Meanwhile the disappointed crow worked off its temper by harassing the young Grey Heron on the restaurant roof.

Yet another Lesser Black-Backed Gull is now trying to catch pigeons, on the Round Pond.

It has taken a while for this behaviour to spread. The skill also has to be learnt, and only the original gull is really successful at the moment.

It was a windy day, which encouraged the Mute Swans to make little flights across the Round Pond -- it's easier for them to take off into a head wind. Here one of them is coming down, starting to extend its feet to water-ski in.

The swan that was on the Lido restaurant terrace yesterday was back again. Virginia, who saw the swan yesterday, said that it had been chased off the lake by another swan. It was trying to get back into the water over the low fence, and risked hurting itself. She manged to lead it back through the gate to the Lido swimming area, and all was well until today the same thing happened again.

The swan was in a bad temper, and pecked crossly at some pigeons.

Two visitors managed to lure it back the the Lido with bribes of food.

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water, bringing the total up to about 20. This pair were revolving at the Vista.

A Great Crested Grebe, now fully in its black, white and grey winter plumage, was resting on the Serpentine.

A flight of Long-Tailed Tits went through the bushes behind Peter Pan.

The pair of Nuthatches in the leaf yard put on a good show when bribed with peanuts.

There was also a Treecreeper, which didn't appear when I was there, but Tom got a good picture of it.

However, it was too windy for the Little Owls to come out.