Saturday, 1 March 2014

A Blackbird was singing loudly in a tree near the leaf yard.

He has a fine bright yellow bill, slightly speckled with earth after digging for worms. According to this post in Africa G√≥mez' blog 'The Rattling Crow', bill colour in male Blackbirds, which ranges between pale yellow and deep pinkish orange, is a sign of their fitness; the deeper the colour, the healthier the bird.

Nearby, some Jackdaws were tossing dead leaves about, looking for insects under them.

This one was happy to come within a few feet of me while I had the camera up to my face so it couldn't see my eyes. Then I lost it in the viewfinder and carelessly looked over the top of the camera to see where it had gone, and all the Jackdaws were gone in a flash.

These Cormorants on a fallen poplar tree on the Long Water are all in their spring breeding plumage with bristly white feathers on their heads, and white thigh patches, just visible on the middle of the three.

There are two pairs of Great Crested Grebes at the Serpentine island. These ones, resting in elgantly matching postures, are at the northwest corner, and seem to want to build their nest behind the baskets here.

The other pair have already nested behind the baskets on the northeast corner. All you can see of them from the shore is an occasional crested head poking up.

The Redwings had been frightened away from their usual place by a Sparrowhawk, and when I went to the Parade Ground there were no small birds at all. The Mistle Thrushes had moved into the shelter of the tall plane trees near Dell, where one of them was singing.

Here are two pictures of the Mealy Redpoll seen on Wednesday 26th in a birch tree near the Italian Garden. They were taken by Tim Jones, who found it.

'Mealy Redpoll' is a new name for what used to be called just the Redpoll or Common Redpoll, Carduelis flammea. It is a winter visitor along the east coast, and uncommon in London. Ornithologists are firecely disputing how many species of Redpoll there are; opinions range between one and six. These pictures show the oatmeal-coloured sides that give the bird its name. It was with a Lesser Redpoll, Carduelis cabaret, which is resident and much commoner, and darker in colour.

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