Monday 16 December 2013

After yesterday's picture of a Lesser Black-Backed Gull swallowing a crayfish whole, here is one of a gull eating it in the conventional way, which is to rip it up and peck the meat out from the inside of the carapace.

Another, young Lesser Black-Back was diving for crayfish near the edge of the Serpentine. It brought one up shortly after this and flew away to devour it in its preferred manner.

This sudden flurry of crayfish eating may indicate that the crayfish have moved out of the deep bottom of the lake into shallower water, or that there are just a lot of crayfish now -- the people at Bluebird Boats are finding plenty in their net. Or it may be that the onset of winter has reduced the amount of food discarded by visitors, or a combination of any of these.

These intelligent, opportunistic birds can dive for marine animals, catch pigeons in the air, steal food from humans and forage for scraps. It is not surprising that they are so successful.

Although it was a mild day, hordes of Great Tits and Blue Tits, as well as Robins and two of the Coal Tits in the leaf yard, came streaming out to be fed. The supply of insects must be dwindling after being sustained by the fairly high temperatures of this autumn.

One of the Little Grebes appeared briefly in the reed bed near the Italian Garden.

Today it was the male Tawny Owl's turn to occupy the balcony on the nest tree. As usual, he was fast asleep.

In fact there is room for both of them here, but evidently she had business inside the tree. The nesting season is approaching. The balcony is an agreeable place for them because it is on the northeast side of the tree, out of the prevailing wind.

There have been reports of reasonable numbers of Redwing in London, so I went to the archery field in the northwest corner of Kensington Gardens, where the have often been seen in recent years. There was nothing but a lone Green Woodpecker in the middle of the field, foraging in the grass. This is a rotten picture, but it was taken from a distance of 70 yards in fading light.

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