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.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Most of the action today was at the leaf yard and the Vista, which is only a few yards away. I was there with David Element and Tom. When the usual female Kestrel passed over they both got photographs of it, and it's interesting to see the differences between the two, and how the angle of the light alters the colour of the bird. This is Tom's picture ...

... and this is David's.

Beside the leaf yard, Rose-Ringed Parakeets vied for a tennis ball, especially attractive to them because it's almost the same colour as themselves.

A squirrel had stolen an apple that someone put out for the parakeets, but another squirrel wanted it.

A remarkable slow-motion video by Tom of me feeding a Jay.

When they have their peanut, they retire to a secluded twig to open it.

A Jackdaw was also expecting to be fed. Although they are getting much bolder, they can still only be fed by putting a peanut on the ground.

The usual Great Tits ...

... and Blue Tits came out of the bushes ...

... and a small flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees.

Earlier, Tom had got a picture of a female Blackcap west of the leaf yard. A few Blackcaps from the European mainland overwinter in the park.

A Cormorant came down on the water.

David got a fine picture of a pair of Mute Swans taking off together.

Tom neatly captured a male Sparrowhawk whizzing past on the far side of the lake.

David stayed after we had both been driven home by the cold, and got a splendid view of the Little Owl near the Queen's Temple, which had come out on a branch.

Elsewhere, it was a quiet day. A Carrion Crow rooted up a bit of freshly laid turf in the Diana fountain enclosure and examined it for worms and insects.

A Black-Headed Gull on the Serpentine played drop-catch with a bit of bark and a twig.

A Grey Heron melted into the reeds almost as well as a Bittern can.

A Great Crested Grebe looked quietly elegant in winter plumage.

The young Mute Swan which regularly visits one of the fountain pools in the Italian Garden looked trapped and desperate to get out. But it can get out, and often has, only to return. Is it angling for sympathy so that people will feed it?

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The value of birds as scavengers is much underestimated. A dead perch on the edge of the Serpentine was gradually disposed of by a Carrion Crow ...

... a Moorhen ...

... and a young Herring Gull.

A discarded takeaway meal in the Italian Garden became a feast for Feral Pigeons, Black-Headed Gulls, a Carrion Crow and a Mute Swan.

It it wasn't for birds we'd be waist deep in rotting dreck.

Another Moorhen was more at home looking for little invertebrates in a heap of dead leaves at the edge of the Serpentine.

A Great Crested Grebe caught a perch near the bridge.

Another preened its shining white belly. The brightness of the feathers makes the bird less visible to the fish below.

A few more Gadwalls have arrived on the lake. They come and go randomly at any time of year. Breeding hutches are provided for them in the garden of Buckingham Palace, and you see more Gadwalls in nearby St James's Park than you do here.

A quarrelsome bunch of Grey Herons arrived to be fed beside the Serpentine.

The Herring Gull with the red ring that I saw on the 6th was beside the Serpentine again. I reported the ring, and now know that it was ringed in Bristol in 2016 and has been seen all over London, with 30 reports coming from 20 different observers in Barnes, Stoke Newington and Regent's Park, and on the Thames Embankment.

A visitor from farther afield: this Black-Headed Gull was ringed in Poland.

Three Common Gulls stood on the buoys at the edge of the Lido swimming area.

Two Nuthatches came to take food at the edge of the leaf yard.

A Robin perched on a ferociously thorny bush in the Rose Garden.

Jackdaws waited to be fed in a hawthorn tree near the Italian Garden. At least ten of them have taken to hanging out here.