Tuesday, 19 November 2019

In the fountain pools of the Italian Garden ...

... two Cormorants explored the water. Previous visiting Cormorants have eaten almost all the fish except for some carp too big to swallow, so they left soon.

A Carrion Crow perched on a stone swan's head forming the handle of an ornamental urn. Over the years almost all the swans' heads had been broken off, and were replaced when the gardens were renovated a few years ago.

The little group of Gadwalls seems to be a permanent fixture in the pools, feeding at the edge of the spray from the fountains.

A Black-Headed Gull showed no respect for Edward Jenner, the inventor of smallpox vaccination.

But the statue, by William Calder Marshall, has seen worse. It was originally in Trafalgar Square, where it was regularly defaced by anti-vaccination campaigners, and had to be moved to a more secluded place in the newly built Italian Garden.

Another Black-Headed Gull with ring number EX63684 was in the park in 2015, and this is the first time I've seen it since then.

A Great Crested Grebe looked for small fish hiding in the dead leaves at the bottom of the Serpentine.

A Dunnock searched for insects in a planter. The effect was slightly like a Douanier Rousseau picture of a tiger in the jungle.

A Pied Wagtail on the terrace of the Dell restaurant hunted for insects in the joints of the paving.

Another ran up the shore.

Two Crows teased a Grey Heron in the little stream in the Dell.

The male Little Owl near the Henry Moore statue was out on the branch to the right of the pair's hole.

The three dark Mallard drakes are surprisingly shiny when the sun catches them at the right angle ...

... but no bird in the park is as magnificently iridescent as the Starlings.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Usually Dunnocks lurk shyly under bushes, but this one had come out on to the terrace of the Lido restaurant to pick up grit, and was wandering around unconcernedly as people walked past.

The Grey Herons in the park have lost all fear of humans, and get on with their quarrelsome life as if no one were watching.

A returning Redwing was eating berries in a holly tree near the bridge. Eventually it flew on to the branch of another tree where it could be photographed.

Update: Rudraksha Chodankar got this excellent shot of the Redwing while it was still in the holly.

Both the Coal Tits were in the holly, and came out to be fed.

A Jay waited on top of the dead tree across the path ...

... and a pair of Carrion Crows looked expectant on the railings.

A Jackdaw chose a gaudy background in the red oak near the leaf yard.

A more tasteful autumn view of a Blue Tit by Mark Williams.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond was ruffled by the breeze.

A Great Crested Grebe fished under the willow next to the bridge.

The long promised renovation of the island seems to be going ahead, and workmen were building a pontoon causeway across from the shore. Let's hope that the works scare the waterfowl right off the island, since the place is now exposed to foxes. But the island really does need maintenance, as it has got very run down and the birch trees are dying and falling into the lake.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he got a fine shot of a Short-Eared Owl flying ...

... and a spectacular sunset.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Both the Coal Tits at the bridge are now coming to my hand to be fed. It took the male months to pluck up his courage and follow his mate, but at last the bribe of delicious pine nuts has had its effect.

There has never been any difficulty with the bold Blue Tits, which sometimes barge the larger Great Tits out of the way.

A pair of Chaffinches foraged under the bushes. With luck we should be able to hand feed these in time.

There were three Jays here touting for peanuts.

A Robin perched on a twig in the Rose Garden.

The male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was only visible for a moment ...

... because a squirrel insolently stood on top of his nest hole, seen by him through the crack in the top of the branch. He retreated up the hollow branch.

A very large Herring Gull on the edge of the Serpentine stared at the camera.

There was a good turnout of Cormorants on the Long Water, occupying the posts at Peter Pan and several fallen trees.

A Moorhen investigated a floating bread bag to see if there were any crumbs in it. Both Moorhens and Coots seem to recognise this type of bag and pay it particular attention.

A Shoveller drake cruised past the Vista.

David Element sent a fine portrait of a Pintail at the Barnes Wetland Centre.

A few years ago we used to get occasional visits from unusual ducks, including Pintail, Wigeon and Garganey. But since the Wetland Centre opened, these seem to pass over without stopping. We seldom see even a Teal, and the number of Shovellers has fallen considerably.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond picked small things out of the water, probably insect larvae.

Joan Chatterley sent the latest picture of the young Black Swan in St James's Park, here seen beside one of its parents. It's now fully grown but still noticeably light coloured.

A fine close-up shot by Tom of a male Bearded Tit at Rainham Marshes.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

An autumn view of the Rose Garden.

This elderly Canada Goose had been on the Serpentine for years -- the picture was taken in 2015. It had run out of oil to preen its feathers and was no longer waterproof, and had got a bad limp. The other Canadas were beginning to bully it.

So it was time to move it to the swan sanctuary where it could live the rest of its life in peace. Here is a video shot by Anita on her smartphone of the goose at her temporary holding place waiting to be picked up. The Call Duck rescued earlier will be going to the same place. She now has a white Mallard to keep her company.

A Mute Swan enjoyed a mighty splash and flap.

One of the dark Mallard brothers was under the willow tree near the bridge.

A very brief video of two Moorhens fighting. They don't fight as often as Coots, but do it in the same style.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was exasperated by Carrion Crows trying to steal his lunch ...

... and moved it away into the water out of their reach.

Four Common Gulls perched on the plastic buoys at the Lido. Being heavier than Black-Headed Gulls, they often tip the buoy over and have to flap to keep their balance.

The Grey Herons know when they're going to be fed, and turn up well in advance.

For several days I've been trying to get a picture of a bird in the spectacularly red sweetgum tree near the Diana fountain. Finally a Blue Tit obliged.

But one at the bridge came much closer, because it wanted to be fed.

Only the female of the pair of Coal Tits here will come to my hand for food. The male lurks timidly in the background, and you have to throw a pine nut on the ground for him.

It's the same with the two Robins. One is easy to attract, the other hangs around diffidently on a bramble.

A single Long-Tailed Tit passed. They take no notice at all of humans.

Friday, 15 November 2019

A pair of Black-Headed Gulls strutted around together and moaned at each other in their courtship ritual.

Another played with a bit of foil.

The odd couple of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Back were still at the Dell restuarant with their teenager. They are just far enough away from the aggressively territorial pigeon-eater to avoid being attacked.

The teenager played with a champagne cork.

One of the Gadwall drakes in the Italian Garden was deluged with water while feeding under the fountain. Evidently the turbulence brings up small edible creatures from the bottom.

The trio of Red-Crested Pochard and Mallards were back in another of the fountain pools, hoping to be fed.

The odd-looking Common Pochard drake on the Round Pond was out of the water, showing an almost complete absence of the usual black feathers on his front.

The Black Swan has brown eyes rather than the adult bright red, showing that it's a young bird in its first suit of black feathers. This proves that it isn't from St James's Park, where all the Black Swans are full adults except for this year's teenage cygnet.

A male Mute Swan flirted with a teenager on the Serpentine.

A Great Crested Grebe at the island, now in winter plumage, caught a large perch.

A Magpie pulled bark off a plane tree ...

... and then went through it on the ground, finding a spider's nest.

David Element got fine pictures of a Bittern at the Barnes Wetland Centre ...

... and a Weasel which had caught an unlucky Field Vole at Rainham Marshes.

Mark Williams is cultivating the friendship of this Blackbird by feeding it sultanas. Bribery gets you a long way.