Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The female Little Owl near the Queen's Temple was looking out of the hole.

While I was photographing her the usual Jay came to take a peanut from my hand, and extracted the nuts from the shell with practised speed in less than ten seconds.

A Coal Tit was not deterred by a Rose-Ringed Parakeet on one of the Rose Garden feeders.

Under the other feeder, the male Chaffinch looked around as he sat waiting for the tits to spill sunflower seeds on the ground.

A Long-Tailed Tit hung upside down to investigate a bunch of dead leaves for possible bugs.

You can often see a pair of Dunnocks near the customer entrance of the Lido swimming area, under the benches or in the red-stemmed dogwood bush on the other side of the path.

There were two Black-Headed Gulls in the marble fountain in the Italian Garden. One had a bath, the other a shower.

Quite a few of the Black-Headed Gulls are now growing the dark heads of their breeding plumage -- which are actually chocolate brown, not black.

The young birds get their dark heads before they are fully out of their juvenile plumage. They don't look fully adult till their second year.

The patch of plants in the Dell where the young Grey Heron used to look for rats has been cut down for the winter, but the heron is still hanging around there out of habit. Presumably it manages to catch fish in the stream, though I have never seen it succeed here.

On the island, several herons were flying in and out of all three nests -- this is the upper one, visible only in winter. Maybe a cold snap will dissuade them from breeding prematurely.

Nothing stops Egyptian Geese from breeding. This is the pair I saw mating under the Henry Moore sculpture a couple of days ago. They were sitting around complacently in the same spot. As far as I know, they have never managed to bring up a brood successfully here.

The enormous area occupied by the Winter Wasteland obliges people walking across the park to detour north or south of it, creating an empty triangle of grass. The geese take advantage of it, with the Canadas to the west and the Greylags near the wall of the funfair.

The white Mallard preened in the shade of the island.

An unbroken row of Cormorants sat on the posts at Peter Pan.

Monday, 17 December 2018

The female Little Owl at the Queen's Temple dozed in the sunshine.

When I went by a second time, the male owl was on a branch, but I was 200 yards away, too far for a picture. When I went closer he retreated into the hole and stared at me suspiciously with one eye. You can see how he is smaller and squarer than his comfortably round mate.

There was a Peregrine on the barracks tower, with the remains of a Feral Pigeon visible on the ledge.

A Starling shone in the sunlight as it searched for worms and insects among the dead leaves.

A Carrion Crow was also foraging, and turned over an oak leaf to see if there was anything underneath.

The Chaffinch in the Rose Garden waited in the sun-dappled shade for some seeds to fall out of the feeder.

Chaffinches have a tendency to sit down, as if their little legs were tired of carrying them. Many of the Chaffinches in the park suffer from the virus disease that attacks their feet, but this one is clear of it so far.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits crossed the bridge on their way round the lake.

I'm still trying to get a video of the Nuthatch in the leaf yard feeding from my hand. But only one of the pair will, and the one that appeared today was the other one.

A Black-Headed Gull stepped daintily across the small waterfall in the Dell.

It was in no danger of being washed away, because actually not much water goes over the fall, which is artfully constructed with a level concrete shelf that has rocks set in it to make it look natural. You see a lot of splash for very little flow. The whole Dell is a skilful imitation of a natural scene.

Most of Hyde Park is lit with picturesque and dim gas lamps, but there is a modern lamp post at the dangerous sharp zigzag outside the Magazine, a scene of frequent car crashes. A Grey Heron finds this a convenient vantage point for keeping an eye on the rats in the shrubbery.

Four Cormorants fished together on the Long Water.

A pair of Pochards preened beside the Serpentine, momentarily disturbed by an intefering Coot.

Two male swans, on the left, tried to impress a female.

A rollerblader practised a very complicated move, almost got it right, but knocked over two cones and clapped his hands in annoyance. Never mind, it will be perfect after a few more tries.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Both the Little Owls came out in their tree near the Queen's Temple as darkness was falling. There wasn't enough light for good pictures.

We've had videos of feeding the Great Tits and Blue Tits at the leaf yard before, but it's a daily pleasure, and today it was enhanced by two visits from a Robin.

Another Robin came out on the path.

A Nuthatch also came to my hand, but not when I was filming. I hope to get it on video one day, but it's still camera-shy.

A Jackdaw ...

... and a Jay were not nervous at all, and positively demanded to be fed. The Jay followed me and took five peanuts from my hand.

A Carrion Crow perched on the Big Bird statue. One of these days, with luck, I'll find a Grey Heron standing there in the same posture as Big Bird.

Two heron nests on the island were occupied, and another heron was on a willow beside the lake picking a twig to add to the nest. They really are starting very early this year.

So are the Egyptian Geese at the Henry Moore sculpture. Being African, they have no idea of the northern seasons and breed at the most unsuitable times.

Another Great Crested Grebe at the island is already going into breeding plumage.

A young Cormorant preened a wing on a fallen branch at Peter Pan.

A Black-Headed Gull drank from a puddle.

A Herring Gull found part of what looked like a large pork pie floating low in thge Long Water. This triggered a feeding frenzy from Black-Headed Gulls trying to snatch a piece of it.

The rain-wetted ground near the Dell helped a Herring Gull in its dance to bring up worms.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

A Blackbird rummaged in dead leaves to find worms. This area on the east side of the Long Water is one of the few places where the park management allows dead leaves to lie, providing a valuable resource for many birds. Almost everywhere else mechanical leaf blowers unnecessarily destroy their habitat, and the population of Blackbirds and other thrushes has crashed disastrously.

It was a dull grey day, but at least there was a Peregrine on the barracks tower.

A Long-Tailed Tit found a small larva on a twig.

Later it started raining, and a Blue Tit ...

... and a Robin were looking sadly soggy.

A Dunnock lurking under the bushes in the Rose Garden managed to stay reasonably dry.

A Mistle Thrush ...

... and a Blackbird took the opportunity to bathe in puddles.

Nothing can interfere with the love life of Feral Pigeons.

A Carrion Crow paddled in the rapids in the Diana fountain. Many birds seem to love the sensation of water flowing over their feet.

Two Cormorants quarrelled on the posts at the island.

In the water below, a Great Crested Grebe was already in breeding plumage.

A Herring Gull which had dredged up an algae-covered stone from the Serpentine was mobbed by Black-Headed Gulls, apparently wanting the stone.

A Moorhen searched through the algae on a fountain in the Italian Garden. They are often here, but I have no idea of what they are finding to eat -- is it just the algae, or are there small creatures in it?

Friday, 14 December 2018

A Great Crested Grebe looked for fish and other aquatic creatures in a submerged carpet of dead leaves at the outflow of the Serpentine, a place which allows you to film looking down from the parapet.

A teenage Moorhen at Peter Pan is now old enough to have a red and yellow bill and yellow feet, but is still in brown plumage rather than the black and dark brown of the adult at the back.

A Coot brought up a stone covered with algae, carried it to the edge and started pecking at it. Gulls also collect and probe these encrusted stones. There must be more here than just the algae.

Another Coot had some floating object with algae on it. It was eyed enviously by a Black-Headed Gull.

A Black-Headed Gull played with a plane leaf. These waxy leaves remain tough when dead, and make interesting rustling and crinkling noises.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull took a moment off hunting to have a scratch.

Cormorants have taken over the raft on the Long Water.

Intended as a nesting place for Common Terns, this raft has been used by countless species, but no tern has ever looked at it. A few terns do actually visit the park in spring, coming down the Grand Union Canal which terminates in Paddington just north of the park.

There are now eight Gadwalls on the Serpentine, about as many as we ever get.

A Shoveller added a bit of colour to a grey day.

A Pochard preened near the bridge.

One of the Peregrines was on the barracks tower.

A Mistle Thrush visited a cabbage palm tree in the Rose Garden to eat the fruit.

According to Conehead54, who regularly comments on this blog, seedlings of this tree dispersed by birds can now be found growing as pavement weeds.

Several flocks of Long-Tailed Tits ranged round the Serpentine.

A Robin fluffed itself up against the morning chill untill it was almost spherical.