Saturday, 14 December 2019

A cold day with a keen wind brought large numbers of hungry Great Tits out of the trees wanting to be fed.

Hungry Jays waited all round the Long Water.

Usually a Moorhen has no difficulty in pushing a Black-Headed Gull off a post, but this young gull stood its ground and wouldn't be shifted.

But this Moorhen refused to be pushed aside by a much larger Carrion Crow.  Eventually the crow had to fly around it.

Three young Moorhens enjoyed a climbing expedition in one of the planters in the Italian Garden.

A crow at the Lido looked very shiny in the sunlight.

A Great Crested Grebe at the island stretched out one of its large feet.

The Black Swan is now completely in control at the Round Pond and pushes and pecks all the Mute Swans out of the way.

There are six young swans here, all of them rescued and released by the Swan Sanctuary after they had been injured.

An Egyptian Goose drank from a very muddy puddle. The borehole water in the Round Pond must taste really nasty if this is better.

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water, and they were busily scooping up small aquatic creatures at the Vista. But number have been low these past few years and now we never get more than a couple of dozen.

Tom rushed with his camera to Whipsnade, where among the usual flock of Redwing ...

... there was a Black-Throated Thrush. This is a very rare visitor from Asia.

Friday, 13 December 2019

On a windy day, a Pied Wagtail beside the Round Pond was almost blown off its feet while looking for small edible creatures washed up by the waves.

A strong west wind raises quite large waves at the east end of the Serpentine, but Cormorants are used to the open sea and aren't bothered.

The Long Water is sheltered by trees and remains calm. Two female Shovellers fed companionably together ...

... ignoring a showy drake.

A young Herring Gull had dredged up a crayfish and was dismantling it. They eat the whole thing, but there can't be much nourishment in the legs.

A Grey Heron looked very vulture-like in the top of a willow tree.

A Carrion Crow shone in the sunlight in the reed bed at the Diana fountain.

A Robin perched against a harmonious background of dead leaves.

Another ticked irritably at me because I was filming it and not feeding it. Afterwards it came to my hand and ate five pine nuts.

Blue Tits particularly like pine nuts, and take their time savouring them.

Wood Pigeons browsed in a flower bed in the Rose Garden, occasionally pecking at the flowers but mainly looking for bulbs recently planted by the gardeners. However, they didn't seem to manage to swallow them.

The Black Swan took a moment off harassing the Mute Swans and preened on the edge of the Round Pond.

This picture is from a couple of days ago. Some vile person had thrown a lot of books into the Serpentine next to the Diana fountain. Two swans examined them, probably looking for snails rather than enlightenment.

Tom was at Wallasea Island, where he got a fine picture of a female Hen Harrier.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Another dismal drizzly day. The female Peregrine perched indifferently on the barracks tower.

A Grey Heron fished from the swan island in the Long Water.

A Cormorant managed to catch two perch at once, creating a problem for itself as perch, with their spiny dorsal fins, have to be turned round and swallowed head first.

The Cormorant didn't manage to turn both, and one fish had a lucky escape. Thanks to Michael Frankling for these excellent pictures.

Two pairs of Egyptian Geese fought and chased each other on the Serpentine.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond, so demure and peaceful when it arrived, is now acting as you'd expect from a Black Swan.

There were two Shoveller drakes at the east end of the Serpentine, a place where Shovellers never normally go, but the foul weather was keeping people out of the park and there was nothing to scare these shy ducks.

The solitary Pochard at Peter Pan mooched around in the falling rain.

A Robin foraged on the wet path.

A Wren wandered about in a flower bed in the Rose Garden.

A Pied Wagtail hunted along the edge of the Round Pond.

A squirrel seemed to find an empty crisp packet particularly delicious. I think it was licking salt off the inside.

At least there's a lifebelt for you if you obey this notice. A watching Carrion Crow was disappointed when I didn't.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he got a fine picture of a female Stonechat on a reed mace head, unusually close for such a shy bird.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A sunny morning brought the male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial to the front of the pair's hole.

The sunlight flattered the fine plumage of the Red-Crested Pochard in the Italian Garden ...

... and a Shoveller drake at the Vista ...

... and shone through the wings of a Cormorant.

A Wood Pigeon eating the last few berries on a tree stretched farther and farther until inevitably it lost its balance and fell out.

A Jay followed me from the bridge to the Vista, taking one peanut after another.

The weeping willow tree near the bridge has collapsed lower and lower over the years but is still alive. Its branches provide a haven for all kinds of water birds, large and small.

Later it clouded over and started raining. A Tufted Duck didn't care.

A Carrion Crow bathed in the Serpentine ...

... and another found a packet of roasted nuts somewhere, ripped it to pieces, and devoured the contents.

One of the Grey Heron nests on the island was occupied, but the birds don't seem to be nesting in earnest yet.

A Blue Tit at the bridge got very impatient when I tried to photograph it instead of feeding it at once.

A Long-Tailed Tit snagged its tail on a twig, a rare event for these agile birds as you can tell by the fine condition of the feathers. Birds that habitually make contact with trees, such as Nuthatches and Treecreepers, have very worn tail feathers.

A small aeroplane circled several times over the park.

Aircraft have no secrets from the web, so I can tell you that G-AZOL is a Piper Seneca, a venerable machine built in 1971 (more senex than Seneca) operated by Select Air Charter and presumably carrying sightseers. While most of it is 48 years old the right propeller is only 10, the original having been demolished when someone started the engine with the brakes off and taxied into a van. You can see a photograph of its very traditional cockpit here.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

A dark grey day of wind and drizzle turning to rain. Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks, Black-Headed Gulls, Feral Pigeons and a Moorhen put up with it. They have seen worse.

Between showers, some swans and Tufted drakes formed a little flotilla at the edge of the Serpentine.

A Moorhen preened on the trunk of a dead birch tree that had fallen into the water from the island.

A Coot skittered over the Serpentine, holding a thick strand of algae and chased by a Black-Headed Gull that was trying to snatch it. It detached a hoverfly larva from the algae and ate it while the gull stood by resentfully.

A Common Gull did the worm dance in the Diana fountain enclosure, which all the gulls know to be the best place for worms in the park. The original clay soil here has been replaced with good topsoil and high quality sports turf has been laid on it, making it a worms' paradise until they stick their heads out and get eaten.

A Carrion Crow probed a crack in the concrete for edible creatures.

This crow has a ring, which is most unusual for crows in the park. The ring looks new, and maybe Bill Haines put it on since he has been ringing other birds than the Coots and Moorhens in his tracking project. The crow flew off before I could see the whole number, but part of it is -1003- on a standard BTO ring.

A Jackdaw waited to be fed among a mass of old peanut shells which shows that this is a usual feeding place.

A Magpie struck a dramatic pose on a tree trunk.

A Jay was a bit bedraggled in the rain.

A Goldcrest came out of the bushes near the bridge and stayed on a holly twig just long enough for a photograph.

There were curious looks from a Chaffinch on the railings ...

... and a Wren on a twig.

A Robin came down several times to take pine nuts from my hand.

The first snowdrops are out at the east end of the Serpentine.

A pretty orange-brown fungus on a felled trunk at the bottom of Buck Hill. Mario tells me that it's Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes).