Thursday, 29 September 2022

Nervous Little Owl

The male Little Owl near the Speke obelisk was unusually nervous today, and fled twice while I was trying to photograph him. This picture is the best I could manage at the second try, of him lurking in the middle of a chestnut tree.


This Green Woodpecker photographed by Richard Oxborough near the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace looks very like the one I videoed near the Physical Energy statue on Wednesday 21 September. They move around over a large area, so it's quite likely to be the same.


A flock of Long-Tailed Tits dashed around in the trees near the bridge.


The female Peregrine returned to the barracks tower after four weeks' absence.


The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull saw a crowd of Feral Pigeons clustering around someone feeding them, and tried running in and grabbing one. This technique is less effective than his well tried method of catching a pigeon napping, and he got nothing but a few feathers.


A Black-Headed Gull tried to swallow a piece of stale dry Arab flatbread ...


... but admitted defeat and spat it out.


The youngest Grey Herons at the island are still tolerated by their parents, though their appeals for food are ignored and they're expected to fish for themselves. They seem to be doing all right.


The older brood, though, have definitely been kicked out. Here one of them gets shooed off the gravel bank on the Long Water.





A Cormorant preening at Peter Pan shone in a sunny spell.


The single young Moorhen from the boat platform rested with a parent on the jetty at the Lido. Unlike their relatives Coots, they don't dive.


The newly arrived female Mute Swan that arrived in the Italian Garden a few days ago is making progress with the cross old resident male, and he will allow her near him when there is a prospect of being fed.


On the Serpentine, the ultra-aggressive male chased a swan that was just minding its own business near the island.


With at least 40 Pochards on the Long Water, they are currently the most numerous duck in the park. They line the east side of the Long Water, though sometimes they're hard to see under the bushes. It's good that these Red-listed birds have found a safe wintering ground.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Little Grebe still here

The Little Grebe is still unobtrusively going around the Long Water. There was a distant glimpse of it on the far side of the Vista next to a Pochard, which shows how tiny it is.


A Great Crested Grebe was fishing under the balcony of the Lido restaurant. The water is still too murky for underwater shots.


A Moorhen enjoyed a shower in the marble fountain in the Italian Garden. You wouldn't know it was the finest Carrara marble under that coating of algae. Whenever it's cleaned, it gets just as green in a few days.


The two Mute Swans in the Italian Garden were only a few feet apart but not taking any notice of each other. This is the recently arrived one. Readers will know that you can tell the sex of an adult swan from the size of the knob on its bill. When I first saw this swan I thought it was a male with a smallish knob, but from the way two swans have been behaving it seems to be a female with a largish one. I think the resident male, who is very aggressive, would have driven out another male at once.


The gravel strip at the Vista is thronged with Cormorants.


Someone had been throwing down rolls beside the Serpentine. A Lesser Black-Backed Gull was pecking one enthusiastically.


Usually the birds here don't get very excited about bread, but these must have been sweet because there was lively competition for one.


Meanwhile, a Carrion Crow was eating a Feral Pigeon left by the killer gull without any interference at all.


A Grey Wagtail appeared briefly on the water's edge near the Lido restaurant.


There was also a Wren which came out of a bush for a moment.


Starlings preened on a chair on the terrace while waiting for a chance to raid a table.


A Great Tit posed among pyracantha berries in the Flower Walk.


The teenage Little Owl at the Round Pond looked out of the hole in the dead tree.


A young fox strolled through the grass on the edge of the Long Water near Peter Pan.


In the leaf yard, something had slashed the trunk of a cherry tree in several places and it was oozing quantities of sticky sap.


The royal cart is still bringing loads of flowers from the floral tribute for the Queen.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Little Owl on a rainy day

There was a very obstructed view of the female Little Owl near the Round Pond in a plane tree. It was just starting to rain and she soon flew away to find shelter.


The familiar Robin the the Flower Walk was not put off by the drizzle, and perched on my hand to take five pine nuts.


The Parnassus Frieze of famous artists and architects around the base of the Albert Memorial has a small cornice to protect the marble from rain. Feral Pigeons sheltered under it. This one was looking at William the Englishman, the architect who completed the east end of Canterbury Cathedral in the 1170s after the original architect, William of Sens, fell off the scaffolding.


In a clear interval the Long-Tailed Tits that hang around the back of the Lido were leaping around in a poplar. 


There was a Chiffchaff with them, but I could only get a distant shot when it came out in a treetop.


A Carrion Crow drank from a puddle.


Another was at the top of the Dell waterfall pulling up the mat of algae growing on the edge. I don't know what it was trying to achieve, and maybe it was just playing.


A pair of Black-Headed Gulls displayed and called affectionately to each other on the edge of the Serpentine. For a moment they jumped at each other, but I'm sure from their other behaviour they are a mated pair and not rivals.


One of our regular gulls, EZ73323, was back on the notice beside the Serpentine where it likes to stand.


A young Grey Heron and one of its parents saw someone throwing bread to some gulls and decided they wanted some. The Lesser Black-Backed Gull with pale feet is one of the new lot of pigeon killers, but was only after bread at the time.


All the posts at the island were occupied by Cormorants, so this one had to stand on a moored pedalo.


Four more Great Crested Grebes have arrived on the Serpentine, and were sitting together as grebes do when they have just flown in.


There are also some more teenage Mute Swans, I think three of them as there were six young ones on the Serpentine and three of those grew up in the park. They are older than our local cygnets, which are not yet flying.


The male swan in the Italian Garden and the newcomer are learning to tolerate each other's presence. The male lost his mate several months ago and it's possible that the newcomer will pair with him. She would have to be careful about approaching this aggressive old bird, who might easily attack and even kill her.


A Mandarin drake on the far side of the Long Water was already back in his gaudy breeding plumage.


A Red-Crested Pochard drake was well on the way to growing his bouffant hairdo ...


... and the Shovellers are also getting brighter.


A surprise appearance at the leaf yard: a cart from the royal stables.


The huge mass of flowers still being laid by people at Buckingham Palace after the Queen's funeral is gathered up nightly and taken to Green Park to separate cellophane wrapping and letters from the flowers. It seems that the letters are kept, though I don't know what happens to them. There are also innumerable Paddington Bears which are given to charities if they are not too stained and soggy. The flowers are brought to the leaf yard to be composted; it takes three trips a day to move them all. There were three royal servants on the back of the cart, all dressed in sombre magnificence, hardly the clothes for shovelling rotting flowers but things have to be done in style.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Autumn setting in

A chilly, rather windy day with intermittent rain made the Little Owls stay in their holes. But I checked anyway, and found a male Great Spotted Woodpecker near the Speke obelisk.


Flower beds in the Flower Walk are being stripped before the autumn plants are put in -- an opportunity for a Robin to come out and forage in the disturbed soil.


The very tatty Blue Tit came out to be fed. It won't come to your hand but will take thrown pine nuts, sometimes catching them in the air.


Compare this sleek one on a holly tree near the bridge.


A Wren making a loud fuss near Mound Gate ...


... drew attention to a Wood Pigeon enjoying a rich selection of weeds in an abandoned flower bed.


On the other side of the path a Magpie checked a sandwich wrapper for crumbs.


A Starling at the Lido restaurant sang its peculiar chattering song while waiting to raid a table.


A Grey Wagtail hunted on the edge of the Serpentine.


In fact there seem to be several Grey Wagtails, as this is a first-year one but we also often get an adult female, seen here earlier on the edge of the Dell waterfall. Outside the breeding season it's hard to know whether there is a permanent population of these birds or whether they just pay occasional visits, flying up from the river.


Another young Herring Gull played with a leaf. Plane leaves are tough and leathery, and will stand up to a good deal of grabbing and throwing about.


A young Cormorant dried its wings on a post at the island. Actually it was drizzling at the time so the bird was probably getting wetter, but this is an automatic act after diving.
 
 
A Moorhen took advantage of the Coots' temporary absence from their nest at the bridge to go through it for insects.

 

The young Egyptians on the shore nearby are nearing full size, though they still haven't got their adult face with the eye patch. Their wings are fully developed and they could probably fly, but I haven't seen them practising.
 
 

The resident Mute Swan in the Italian Garden cropped a tuft of grass. The newly arrived swan is still here, but they're keeping well away from each other.