Sunday, 20 September 2015

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were doing brisk business, with several Mistle Thrushes ...

... Starlings ...

... Blackbirds, Magpies and a solitary Carrion Crow all eating the berries.

A tree in the Flower Walk was full of Wood Pigeons eating its black berries.

But I am sadly ignorant of trees and don't know what kind it is. Many of the trees in the Flower Walk are exotic, which doesn't help. Update: a reader has identified it as an elder, though the clusters of berries are stragglier and more drooping than elderberries usually are..

There was a mob of Cormorants on the Long Water.

When one Cormorant visits and finds plenty of fish, others follow the next day and numbers build up quickly. I wonder how they communicate their discovery.

The Grey Heron that uses the old Coot nest as a fishing platform was repairing it. Both birds build large twiggy nests, and the instinct to maintain a nest must have taken over.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water was flapping a pair of fully grown wings.

There were plenty of Shovellers on the Long Water a week ago, but they seem to have melted away, leaving just one on a branch surrounded by Black-Headed Gulls. Maybe their final destination was the Wetland Centre up the river at Barnes.

The Reed Warblers haven't begun their migration. There are still plenty of insects for them, but the Swallows, Swifts and House Martins are already well on their way to Africa.

There was no sign of a Little Owl for much of the day. Finally, at 4.50 pm, the female came out and perched on last year's nest tree, waiting for the park to close so she could start hunting.


  1. Do you think the cormorants might experience morphic resonance Ralph?

    1. It's a difficult question. When a honeybee finds a good patch of flowers she comes back to the hive and does a dance to tell the other workers where it is. But how do Cormorants do it? Is it just a question of one of them coming back looking well fed and the others following it? Or is there actually some communication? They are social birds, though not to the same extent as geese, and they often fish in organised gangs.

  2. This is quite informative - Cormorant Ecology - FAQ (

    Q: Cormorants can feed in flocks – do the birds communicate with each other?

    A: It is debatable whether cormorants actually communicate or whether they merely imitate and copy one another. The communal feeding strategies adopted by cormorants at some sites is an adaptation to ‘herd’ shoals of fish and improve prey capture rates; this technique can have particular benefits in more turbid (‘cloudy’, unclear) waters but is used at a variety of sites.

    1. Interesting, but it still doesn't answer the question of how the birds know how to move to new fishing areas. Can one Cormorant start a flock response?