Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A small winter extra:

Wet footprints of early morning bathers at the Lido frozen solid and still there at 2.30 pm.

A visitor from Qatar leaves a comment on a table at the Lido restaurant: لندن برد, landan bard, 'London cold.'

There were patches of ice on the Long Water, and a Coot was having difficulty keeping its balance.

A Teal drake turned up at the east end of the Serpentine, the first we've seen since January. It might even be the same one. It was looking a bit dishevelled because it had been washing.

A Mallard was in mid-wash ...

... and so was a Cormorant.

A Tufted Duck had finished, and was having a flap to settle its feathers.

Two Mute Swans were waiting to be served at the Triangle snack bar.

A Carrion Crow had found a bag with the remnants of a snack in it, and was shaking it to get the food out.

The second pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull, the one with pinkish legs ...

... and the third one, with pale yellow legs ...

... were disputing the ownership of a pigeon that one of them had killed.

The male Little Owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial had come out to the front of the hole to enjoy the sunshine.

A Coal Tit came down to feed at the leaf yard.

Some Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees overhead.

A Mistle Thrush was reaching for fruit in the rowan tree on Buck Hill.

A Blackbird had found a more convenient twig for her meal.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Carrion Crow was bathing in the dolphin fountain in the Rose Garden.

It evidently felt that there wasn't enough water in this fountain, as it took off, flapped soggily to the other, larger fountain and carried on splashing.

There was also a Wren, which came out on a bush ...

... and a Coal Tit waiting for its turn at the feeder ...

... and a flight of Long-Tailed Tits rushing around in the trees.

There is brisk competition for the last fruit on the rowan tree on Buck Hill, with half a dozen Blackbirds ...

... and constant arrivals of Mistle Thrushes.

The Pied Wagtails on the Parade Ground, have found a new place to hunt insects, the fake shingles on the fake chalets in the funfair.

(They are fake shingles because real shingles must be split, not sawn, to make them weatherproof.)

A Jay at the Leaf Yard was getting impatient at being photographed instead of fed.

So was a Blue Tit. It's hard to take pictures and keep the birds happy at the same time, and really you need someone else to feed them when you are photographing.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was looking out of the hole in the oak tree, but fled inside as I approached. I went back half an hour later and found the male owl, a much calmer bird who just stared back at me.

The third pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull is almost always in the same place on the north shore of the Serpentine, halfway between Bluebird Boats and the Dell restaurant. It isn't very good at catching pigeons yet, and I've only seen it with two undisputed kills. But it took the first gull several years to get it technique refined.

A Great Crested Grebe was looking for fish under the edge of one of the reed rafts at the east end of the lake.

This area is patrolled by a very aggressive male Mute Swan, who was harassing some other swans. This one's nerve snapped and it fled up the lake, half running, half flying.

Monday, 28 November 2016

When photographing Nuthatches in the leaf yard, bribery is the key to success.

A Coal Tit was also tempted out by the food.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet climbed carefully down the cord supporting a fat ball.

It took a few bites but didn't like it much. A few Long-Tailed Tits were hanging around hungrily, but they are not used to feeders and didn't dare to come out.

The Starlings which used to arrive when you fed the small birds have been crowded out by the mobs of parakeets, and only a few come to the leaf yard now.

A Song Thrush was eating the fruit in the rowan tree on Buck Hill.

There were also the usual Mistle Thrushes ...

... and Blackbirds.

When you stand here for any length of time, invariably Charlie and Melissa the Carrion Crows turn up and stare at you till you give them peanuts. This is Melissa, looking splendidly shiny in the low sunlight.

Several Cormorants were again fishing over the wire baskets of twigs near the bridge, but not catching much. It seems that they have finally run the lake's fish stock down to the point of diminishing returns and will go back to the river soon.

The Great Crested Grebe on the right is already back in breeding plumage, while its mate is still in plain winter dress.

The young Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant was sunbathing with half-spread wings, and then started preening. Evidently the warmth of the sun brings parasites to the surface of its feathers where they can be picked off.

A young Herring Gull was carrying a stick to some height before dropping it in the water and diving after it. This is the second stage of the stick game. The third stage is the full drop-catch, where the stick is dropped from a height and the gull dives headlong to catch it before it hits the water. It takes a while to learn this skill.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

There was a mob of Cormorants fishing over the wire baskets of twigs near the bridge. Though very busy, they didn't seem to be catching much.

Later they hopped on to the posts by the bridge, where the low sun backlit them pleasingly.

One was stretching its wings while sitting in the water, something I haven't seen before. Evidently it was making sure that they were dry enough to fly home with, because after a minute it took off and headed south to the Thames.

Eight Herring Gulls were doing the worm dance together in the Diana fountain enclosure.

Only the adult was catching any worms. There is more skill to this dance than you might think.

The second pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull, the one with pale pinkish legs, had made another kill on the south side of the Serpentine.

A little group of Red-Crested Pochards have returned to the Long Water, the first seen here for weeks. They probably aren't migrants, and are far more likely to have flown in from Regent's Park.

The white Mallard was preening near the Dell restaurant.

One of the Grey Herons has returned to the old nest it used last summer. It is just using it as a place to stand, and won't be thinking about nesting for months.

The usual female Chaffinch was eating the pips of rowan fruit on Buck Hill.

There were also several Blackbirds.

A lone Mistle Thrush remained in the far side of the tree and couldn't be photographed.

A Wren was jumping around in the reed bed at the east end of the Serpentine.

A film crew were at work at the Lido. For this scene, two men had to swim up and down beside the jetty in the chilly water. Possibly they were real members of the Serpentine Swimming Club, who are used to the cold.

The crew told me that the film is Paddington, done in live action. Let's hope there's a real bear.

Tom arrived from St James's Park. There is a very tame Jay here, which will eat off your hand. This is his video of it, in slow motion.