Sunday, 24 September 2023

Owls in hiding

A pair of Jackdaws wandered along the gravel bank in the Round Pond, looking for insects on the bird droppings.

It was slightly chilly in the morning and again the female Little Owl didn't feel like coming out of her hole. Females seem to be more sedentary than males, even outside the nesting season.

The male owl at the Serpentine Gallery was perched in the middle of a bunch of leaves, and all I could see was one eye looking at me suspiciously ...

... but when I went past the tree again on my way home he had emerged.

The Blue Tit in the Flower Walk with a damaged foot stared out of a bush. It does have the remains of two toes on that foot, and was able to fly out and perch on my hand to collect a pine nut.

A Wood Pigeon eating hawthorn berries reached down too far. This is the moment it lost its grip and fell out of the tree.

The old Grey Heron from the Henry Moore sculpture was down on the Long Water fishing, I don't know how successfully. He had a mighty flap ...

... before flying up to the grassy mound where the paths divide to go over and under the bridge, a good spot for begging food off passing visitors.

One of the Great Crested Grebe chicks from the nest at the bridge picked a feather out of the water.

Their mother caught a fish and ate it herself. They need to keep themselves going during the incessant fishing for the chicks.

Three of the four from the middle of the Long Water were pestering their father. The fourth was visible out on the lake. All the ten grebe chicks on the lake that emerged initially are still alive, a remarkable record compared with the unfortunate ducks. It shows what good parents they are.

This is the youngest of them, the single chick from the second nest on the island.

A Cormorant at the Serpentine island splashed its way past a line of others perched on posts.

The female Mute Swan of the conquering pair was with the family at the Vista, being pointlessly nasty to some harmless Tufted Ducks.

There was enough of a breeze on the Serpentine to tempt a swan into the air.

There are still only two Shovellers on the Long Water, I think, a female and a drake just coming out of eclipse. Virginia got an excellent picture of him washing.

In the Rose Garden a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee going round a stonecrop flower head met a Common Carder coming the other way.

Saturday, 23 September 2023

A chilly start

Two visits to the park today, briefly quite early in the morning and later in the afternoon. It was still chilly in the morning and the female Little Owl was staying in her hole.

She ignored a pair of Egyptian Geese making a fuss on top of the dead tree.

Later it got quite warm and brought the male out in the horse chestnut ...

... and some Feral Pigeons sunbathed in the grass.

The young Robin near the bridge, which we've seen before, was hopping around in the bushes ...

... and there were several Blue Tits in the corkscrew hazel in the Flower Walk.

A Starling at the Dell restaurant took possession of a plate of scraps and wouldn't allow another one near it.

Herring Gulls breed in Paddington, so the ones on the lake are often accompanied by their young. This one unsuccessfully whined at a parent for food, who felt that it was old enough to do its own scavenging.

The three Great Crested Grebe chicks were being fed under the bridge.

A Cormorant caught a carp on the long Water by Peter Pan ...

... and a female Shoveller cruised across the waterfront.

The Black Swan was staying on the Round Pond. He has jilted girlfriends both here and on the Serpentine, but I don't think either of them was particularly attached to him.

A worker Honeybee in the Rose Garden filled her pollen bags with orange pollen from an oxeye daisy.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he got fine pictures of a Kingfisher ...

... and a Cattle Egret in flight. The Cattle Egrets at Rainham try to perch on the cows to eat their fleas, but the cows haven't realised that this is a good thing and shake them off.

Ahmet Amerikali was at Southwark Park, where he photographed a Goldcrest ...

... a Little Grebe making its way through a mat of duckweed ...

... and a Coot which has nested remarkably late in the year with a young chick.

Friday, 22 September 2023

Foxes back in the Dell

The male Little Owl at the Round Pound preened in a horse chestnut tree.

The male at the Serpentine Gallery was also visible in the usual lime.

The Jackdaw population around the Dell is increasing, and today four arrived in quick succession to ask for peanuts. They are much more polite in their demands than the pushy Carrion Crows.

The yew tree by the bridge has a good crop of fruit. A Great Tit perched on a twig. I don't think they eat yew fruit, and it was more interested in getting a pine nut from me.

Both the Peregrines were on the tower, close but out of sight of each other on either side of the concrete rib.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull tried rushing into a crowd of feeding Feral Pigeons to grab one, but they managed to evade him. If a pigeon sees him coming it's almost always quick enough to escape, and his success depends on taking them by surprise.

It's easy to forget what a beautiful view there is looking down the Long Water, created around 1730 by Charles Bridgeman, from the Italian Garden created by Prince Albert in 1860s. It's one of the few remaining vistas not disfigured by a modern tower block.

It doesn't show in the long view above, but the bank south of Peter Pan is a tangle of fallen trees. Clearing them away is made impossible by health and safety regulations, so they are just left to lie in the water till they fall apart. They make ideal perches for Grey Herons and Cormorants.

The Mute Swan family were at Peter Pan passing the time by preening until they saw some well-meaning person with a bag of unhealthy bread.

The Black Swan flew to the Round Pond yesterday. He was reported to be in a filthy temper, and had probably lost a fight with the murderous male swan in the previous picture. By the time I saw him today he had calmed down.

The Canada Goose with the speckled head is looking unkempt around the neck, a sign that he is still not feeling himself after his ordeal with the fishing weight stuck in his bill. But he is eating and expected to be all right soon.

The single Great Crested Grebe chick at the Serpentine island tried begging from one parent and then the other, but they were preening and not in the mood for fishing at the moment. It does get well fed, though.

The four chicks on the Long Water were dashing about all over the lake.

The three young Moorhens in the Italian Garden also wander around and may be seen anywhere in the area.

The previous family of foxes in the Dell were removed by the park management, always more concerned with tidiness than with the welfare of wildlife. We were told that they had been 'relocated' which, if true, meant that they would have been dumped in another family's territory, resulting in a serious fight. It was a completely pointless act because a few days later more foxes have come in to fill the gap. The Dell is an ideal territory for them, protected from people and dogs by railings which the slim foxes can squeeze through.

Oxeye daisies in the Rose Garden attracted a crowd of Honeybees ...

... and a Common Banded Hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Sunshine and showers

The female Peregrine was preening on the tower of the Knightsbridge Barracks. I've had a report, so far unverified, that a pair has been nesting on the Trellick Tower two miles to the northwest, and from observations in previous years I think it's the same pair. There's no sign of young, though.

The dominant Robin at the Queen's Gate crossing of the Flower Walk looked out from a pyracantha bush.

Along the path, a Blue Tit in the corkscrew hazel had only one foot. It was perching quite easily and flew on to another twig.

Several rats were running around in the borders. They looked healthy and shiny, unlike the squirrels which are often pretty manky.

There was a Black-Headed Gull on the kerb of the Italian Garden with an orange plastic ring, 2V65. This is one of Bill Haines's ringed gulls. I could also read the metal ring, EA74195. This is an oddly early ring number, I think going back well before 2000. I asked Bill about this and he said that he had put on the metal ring and the plastic one earlier this year. The BTO had sent him 200 rings with EA numbers two years ago, and he thought they must have had them unused in a drawer somewhere.

It started raining hard. A Grey Heron landed in a tree.

One of the young Moorhens was being absolutely pelted, but seemed not to mind.

It found a small worm in a puddle.

It was only after the downpour relented that I was able to get round the lake. A Cormorant on a post at the island was preening its chin with a foot ...

... and a heron was doing the same in a treetop.

The bully Mute Swan was pointlessly chasing another away.

Behind the Albert Memorial a Feral Pigeon was eating a low-growing plant in a puddle. I looked it up on PlantNet, which said it was Greater Swinecress, Lepidium squamatum.

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond emerged from shelter and perched in a horse chestnut tree.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks from the bridge were on the Serpentine, calling nonstop and being fed every few minutes.

One of the chicks from the middle of the Long Water had been given a fish as large as it can swallow, and rinsed it carefully so that it went down more easily.

The single chick from the island always stays close to its parents.