Friday, 7 October 2016

The Mute Swans around the Dell restaurant are used to being fed by people. There weren't many visitors, so one of them came on to the restaurant balcony and touted for food at the tables.

Down on the shore, Blondie the Egyptian Goose was preening, showing her remarkably pale wings. On a normal Egyptian the flight feathers are very dark brown.

The white Mallard drake, who used to be whiter than the swans, has now gone a creamy yellow colour. The colour is even and it doesn't seem to be a stain. Presumably he has been moulting, along with the other Mallards, and these are his new feathers. Can the colour be a carotene pigment from his diet?

In Blue Tits, the colour of the yellow feathers is from a carotene pigment, specifically astaxanthin, got from the insects they eat.

Several Shovellers were feeding around the island. Most of the drakes are immature and rather drab, but there was one adult in his full finery.

The Great Crested Grebes are fading into their monochrome winter plumage.

Here is a video of a young grebe fishing in the shallow water at the edge of the Serpentine. This splashy shallow diving is the technique they learn first, as it is easier than hunting fish in deep water.

There were 22 Cormorants on the lake today. These ones are on a fallen poplar in the Long Water.

Two Wood Pigeons were bathing in the little pool above the Dell waterfall.

A Wren came out of the bushes near the bridge, and was remarkably tolerant of being photographed.

Several Blackbirds were eating rowan berries on Buck Hill.

A Jay was looking for worms near the leaf yard, under the Little Owls' trees.

The female owl was staring down from the upper tree.

Update: The London Bird Club Wiki reports a Yellow-Browed Warbler neat the Ranger's Lodge, and also a Spotted Flycatcher. I was actually there when the mixed tit flock passed by the lodge, but as usual missed the exciting bird in it.


  1. The great crested grebes are so beautiful even in their fading plumage. Wonderful that so many have bred successfully this year.

    1. They are elegant in a different way in winter, and just as graceful in the water.

  2. That Swan has apparently learned that one can earn a living on charm and not just on brute strength... perhaps there is hope for them still.

    Or maybe not. Last week there was a sort of aerial incident with a couple of Russian bombers which flew quite close to the Spanish border. They were TU 160 Blackjack, nicknamed in Russian White Swan. Funny how some journalists here proceeded to say that they looked nothing like their "peaceful" namesakes. One begs to differ: they are exactly what swans would look like (and perhaps act like) if they were bombers rather than birds!

    1. Not so sure about charm. The swan reminded me of those embarrassing roving violinists that annoy people in open-air restaurants until they are paid to go away.

      I looked up the bomber. Beautiful on the ground, but when the swing wings are folded back there's an ugly bulge which no bird would tolerate.