Wednesday, 21 October 2020

On a dismal rainy day the Rose-Ringed Parakeets looked miserable. The English climate doesn't suit them and their feathers aren't waterproof.

The native birds are used to it and for some, like Mistle Thrushes, it brings up welcome worms.

Newly arrived Redwings have been flying over the park. I haven't yet found any on the ground, and this video was shot last winter.

A Starling thought it might as well get properly wet.

A Robin perched on a twig in the Rose Garden next to a flower bed where the gardeners were working. The freshly tilled soil is a fine place to look for small creatures of many kinds.

The usual Coal Tit at the bridge came down to be fed, and allowed me time for just one photograph.

The Jackdaws ...

... and Jays are more patient in front of the camera. They know they'll get a peanut eventually. This is the Jay near the bridge that flies down to snatch a nut from my fingers, a game we both enjoy.

A Grey Heron stood patiently on a dead branch ...

... but another caught a substantial pike next to one of the small boathouses.

A Great Crested Grebe was also busy fishing, keeping low and ready to dive.

A Moorhen wandered through the wet grass at the edge of the Italian Garden ...

... where the Red-Crested Pochard drake and his Mallard mate stood on the edge of a pool.

A lone Shoveller drake preened on the Serpentine. All the others are on the Long Water.

On wet days when the park is almost deserted, geese can wander freely across the Serpentine Road to enjoy the lush grass on the other side.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was also here, eyeing a couple of Feral Pigeons on the edge of the lake. This isn't his usual place. He may be thinking he's inconspicuous against a background of quite similarly coloured Canada Geese.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull which I filmed earlier killing a Feral Pigeon beside the Serpentine struck again, this time on the other side of the bridge on the Long Water. Meanwhile, the original pigeon eater was having a meal of his own at the far end of the lake. I don't actually know whether these gulls are father and son, but it's quite likely. The young one is almost certainly male, since it's large.

It's difficult for gulls to rip pigeons apart, especially in the water, because they can't hold the victim with their small weak feet. The pigeon eater often hangs them over the edge of the kerb to anchor them.

The Black-Headed Gull EZ73323 looked down serenely from its favourite place on a notice board.

Moorhens enjoy knocking these small gulls off posts. This teenager removed two of them in quick succession.

An Egyptian Goose preened his mate. This is not just a display of affection, as he gets a snack of fleas and mites.

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water. Some of them were asleep under the shelter of a fallen tree.

A fine picture of a Tufted drake splashing down, by Ahmet Amerikali.

A strange cargo was being shipped to the small boathouse that is used as a store by Bluebird Boats. A Cormorant hastily got out of the way.

A dramatic picture by Ahmet of a Cormorant taking off. These heavy birds need quite a long run to get airborne.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits went along the side of the Long Water ...

... taking some Blue Tits with them.

Many small birds join these winter feeding flocks: tits of all kinds and often small warblers such as Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests.

This portrait of a Goldcrest near the bridge is again by Ahmet.

A Magpie climbed up an oak, looking for insects in the deeply fissured bark.

There were three Feral Pigeons at Peter Pan with Rorschach ink blot patterns, presumably siblings.

The Grey Squirrels in the park have become so used to being fed by humans that people can stroke them. But you do have to watch out for their teeth, which are as sharp as woodworker's chisels.

It's always good to see a bit of art in the park. I much prefer this to the stuff at the Serpentine Gallery.

Monday, 19 October 2020

More Common Gulls have arrived on the Round Pond for the winter. One of them had won a large piece of expensive cake from the café at Kensington Palace.

The conspicuous white 'window' on the wingtip of a Common Gull is less visible from below, and also I think this is a second-winter gull on which the white patch is smaller than on a full adult.

A young Herring Gull on the Serpentine was having a good time playing with a tennis ball. They love toys that roll.

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull which I recently filmed catching a pigeon was in its usual place below the Triangle car park. It had not succeeded in catching anything, and vented its frustration with a loud cry.

A Moorhen teenager was getting absolutely soaked under a fountain the the Italian Garden. Both Moorhens and Coots seem to enjoy this experience.

A Moorhen preened on a chain and then walked along it. They love balancing and climbing, and do it for its own sake even when they don't need to.

The very old Canada x Greylag Goose hybrid ate a dead leaf, which geese seem to like. Then it continued slurping at the surface of the water, as if it was picking up small water creatures. Although its legs are now very arthritic and obviously painful, it's feeding well and looking after its feathers, and has avoided the foxes.

After a dull and chilly morning the sun came out and showed off the fine iridescent head of a Mallard drake.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused for a moment on a hawthorn twig.

A Blue Tit perched in a treetop near the bridge ...

... and a Great Tit looked out from a deodar beside the Serpentine Road.

Both were expecting food, and got it.

A Robin sang on a busy path beside the Long Water, ignored by the humans passing by.

A Carrion Crow had found a crayfish claw in the Long Water and took it up to the Vista to deal with it. Both crows and large gulls seem to find these claws worth eating, though they must hardly contain any meat.

A Magpie tried to harass a Grey Squirrel into dropping something it was eating.

The squirrel took no notice at all, and the Magpie flew off frustrated.

A squirrel in a yew tree carefully nibbled off the sweet red outside of a berry and discarded the seed inside. The seed is poisonous, but it's not sure whether squirrels know this or whether they just don't fancy the large hard lump.

Patches of cyclamen grow along the east side of the Long Water. People buy this as a house plant, but actually it thrives in outdoor temperatures and soon dies in a heated room.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

A flash of white wingtip in a gull chase showed that the first Common Gull has returned to the Serpentine for the winter.

Later it obligingly posed for its portrait on the plastic buoys at the Lido.

There were also a few on the Round Pond, which for some reason they prefer to the main lake.

A young Herring Gull ate oatmeal. Of the strange foods that people bring to the park to feed the birds, this is one of the better kinds and greatly preferable to bread.

Cormorants jostled each other and dried their wings on the wooden posts at the island.

A Grey Heron preened in front of two Japanese maples in their brilliant autumn colours in the Dell.

Some of the Tufted drakes are now back in their smart breeding plumage.

The Red Crested Pochard drake and his Mallard mate were in the Italian Garden. I never expected this affair to last but they've been together for two years now.

The Coot which built a nest at Peter Pan at the most absurd time seems determined to go ahead with it.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet tore open the seed case of a sweet chestnut in the tree near the leaf yard where the Little Owls used to nest.

Jackdaws have the owls' hole now.

These owls are gone, but the pair on Buck Hill are still a going concern although their former hole seems to have been abandoned. Today a Mistle Thrush was looking for insects in it. There were several other Mistle Thrushes here, evidently recently arrived autumn migrants.

On the ground below a pair of Magpies had a peanut each.

A Sunday with reasonable weather brought a lot of people to the Lido restaurant, and the Starlings were waiting for a chance of scraps.

I know we've had videos of Starlings washing before, but their frantic splashing is hard to resist.

A moment of afternoon sunshine lit two Long-Tailed Tits in a passing flock.