Friday, 16 November 2018

It was a dark grey day, and you could hardly see this Great Crested Grebe fishing under the fallen willow near the bridge.

A band of Cormorants dried their wings at the island.

A pair of Shovellers revolved together at Peter Pan.

At the Vista the dominant male Mute Swan sailed along beside the Black Swan with wings raised menacingly. She took no notice.

In an interview, he declined to comment on the situation.

A Song Thrush visited the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

A Jackdaw ...

... and a Jay waited for service on the stone vases in the Italian Garden.

The divers working to remove the 36 large concrete blocks that anchored the Mastaba found a great deal of detritus in the lake ...

... including a World War 2 bomb. A large area of the park was closed for several hours while divers from the bomb squad made it safe and removed it. The Canada Geese had also left because of the disturbance, but eventually it was safe to go back.

During this time we went to Marble Arch, where a young male Kestrel has been reported on the central island, standing on a stone wall only feet from the passing traffic.

We passed lorryloads of stuff waiting to be installed in the Winter Wasteland. The designer of this attraction has taken his inspiration from the works of Hieronymus Bosch.

There was no sign of the Kestrel, but there was the Lesser Black-Backed Gull with beige legs, which we have already seen on the Serpentine, guarding a freshly killed Feral Pigeon from a bunch of Carrion Crows.

I don't think a Kestrel is large enough to take a pigeon, and it seems most likely that the gull did it. But I have yet to catch any gull other than the well known one in the act.

A bush on the island at Marble Arch was thronged with Feral Pigeons eating the large black berries.

On the way back through the Meadow there was an alarm call in a patch of scrub, from which a Wren stared out challengingly.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

The Little Owl was visible again in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial. But she didn't come out till the light was fading, so this is a very dark picture.

The female Peregrine was back on the barracks tower, raising a lethal foot.

Visitors to the rowan trees on Buck Hill included a Redwing ...

... a Mistle Thrush ...

... and some Starlings.

The Magpies here are residents, and spend much of their time in these trees.

More Mistle Thrushes could be heard in the trees at the foot of the hill, and there was also a small flock in the Rose Garden.

A Chaffinch found an insect in one of the Rose Garden flower beds.

A Coal Tit in the Dell looked up from eating some unidentifiable object.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits moved along the edge of the Serpentine.

A Goldcrest appeared in the yew tree near the bridge.

A Jay stared imperiously from a branch.

The Black Swan was at the Vista again, and it is now her regular hangout.

She seems to be about on equal terms with the boss pair of Mute Swans here. The male pushes her out of the way, so she sends off his mate.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had just claimed a new victim.

There was a video about this pair of Herring Gulls on Monday. Here is more of their bonding ritual. He presents dead leaves and a stone to his mate. He also pushes her backwards. There is no hard border between affection and aggression.

Most of the Herring Gulls on the Serpentine are either first-winter or second-winter birds. This is a second-winter one, with adult pale grey feathers beginning to appear on its back. These long-lived birds grow up quite slowly, taking four years to reach full adulthood.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Black Swan is really pushing her luck on the Long Water. She swaggered in with her fine ruffles threateningly raised ...

... and went for the dominant male Mute Swan, actually making him retreat.

I do hope this doesn't end in a serious fight. She may be fierce but she's much smaller than him.

The Kestrel made a momentary appearance over Buck Hill, but she was being chased by a Carrion Crow and the two of them vanished into the rooftops of Bayswater.

The rowan trees were very busy, with two Blackbirds ...

... two Redwings ...

... the solitary Mistle Thrush ...

... a pair of Magpies ...

... and a Jay.

So Jays do eat rowan berries. I haven't seen them doing this before.

Here is some video of the Blackbirds, and a brief clip of the Redwing, which had finished feeding and was having a pause for digestion.

After some of the ludicrous sporting activities that have been going on in the Buck Hill shelter, it's good to see a bit of classic Tai Chi.

On the Serpentine, a young Herring Gull was finishing off one of the pigeon killer's victims, keeping the pigeon killer's offspring away by virtue of being larger.

But both the young birds were scared off when a Lesser Black-Backed Gull came down and gave them the loud 'long call' at point blank range.

The young Grey Herons are beginning to get their white adult faces, and a trace of black is creeping in from the back of the head.

A Robin perched among rosehips in the Rose Garden.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Redwings are returning for the winter, and there was one in the ash tree on Buck Hill which is handily placed for a raid on the fruit in the rowan trees next to it.

The only bird actually in the rowan was a Blackbird.

The scarcity of Mistle Thrushes means that the fruit is lasting well.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits flew through the Rose Garden ...

... where a Feral Pigeion blended well with a patch of pansies.

On the terrace of the Lido restaurant, Starlings were drawn to the irresistible odour of chocolate cake. Most people shoo them off, but they were lucky today.

A Magpie worked its way along the edge of the Serpentine Road, probing industriously in the crack between the kerbstones and the pavement. Evidently this is worth while for the insects it produces.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from a treetop next to the park greenhouses.

The Giant Woodpecker of Doom has just been set up in the enclosure of the Winter Wasteland, which will open in a few days. The mechanical man has yet to be fitted with his heavy canvas shirt. When this thing is switched on, the man ponderously twitches his head and arms, and the bird pecks and flaps its wings.

A few Gadwalls have arrived at the Vista, after being absent from the lake for months. St James's Park is absolutely crammed with Gadwalls, but we only get occasional visits here.

A handful of Shovellers crossed the lake. I must have missed them yesterday when I was looking for them. There are plenty of bushes for them to lurk under.

The Black Swan was also at the Vista, looking round warily at the dominant Mute Swans, but everything remained peaceful.

A pair of swans flew up the Serpentine.

A Little Grebe went past the reed bed opposite Peter Pan, diving busily.

Black-Headed Gulls use similar displays for courtship and to subdue rivals. They extend their wings slightly, lower their heads, and moan.

Here the display is definitely an aggressive one. But you can see it used for courtship at

There is another clip of rivalry at

Cormorants often flap their wings for minutes on end. The conventional explanation is that they are drying their feathers, but it has also been suggested that flapping helps them to digest a heavy meal of fish.

The shire horses were having an easy time on Buck Hill. All the mowing has been done, so they only need to take away dead leaves which the visiting young bankers have raked into heaps and will load on to their cart.