Tuesday 30 September 2014

More Cormorants are arriving on the lake; there were 18 today. This is because the year's young fish have reached a size large enough to be interesting to Cormorants. Word gets around the community very quickly and they fly up from the river. This one on the Long Water had stopped gorging itself for a moment to play with a fallen leaf.

The young Grey Wagtail has a new favourite place, beside the water under the bushes between the Lido swimming area and the Lido restaurant, where it can't be disturbed by people. But it can be photographed from the jetty of the swimming area. Here it has caught a tiny pale worm.

On the land side of these bushes, in a small olive tree, the local Robin was singing with great enthusiasm.

A young Hobby was in almost the same place as yesterday, in a plane tree south of the Physical Energy statue. It didn't stay long, and flew off towards Hyde Park to rejoin the family.

Today it was the male Little Owl who came out for a photograph. As usual, this was in the chestnut tree just to the west of the pair's nest tree.

A Moorhen was having a good stretch on the abandoned Coots' nest at Peter Pan. It only had a moment of enjoyment, as one of the Coots arrived and pushed it off. The Coot doesn't actually want the nest, it just doesn't want anyone else to have it. Shortly afterwards it evicted two Mallards.

Melissa the Carrion Crow is almost recovered from her leg injury, though still limping slightly. She flew on to the parapet of the Italian Garden graciously accepted a digestive biscuit.

Monday 29 September 2014

The Hobbies were flying all over the park, and I was lucky to catch one of the young ones on their usual perch in the plane tree south of the Physical Energy statue.

The female Little Owl was sheltering from the midday rain in the chestnut tree next to their nest tree. She is becoming more tolerant of being photographed, though I am sure she was glad when I went away.

The rain had also brought out many birds on to the grass to hunt for worms. This Green Woodpecker ...

... and Mistle Thrush ...

were within a few yards of each other near Physical Energy, accompanied by a Jay and some Starlings. There were at least a dozen Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and two Magpies in the Flower Walk, prospecting in the grass verge and bathing in the puddles.

The Pied Wagtails were out in force on the Parade Ground. This is a female, dark grey rather than the black of the male.

There was also a Treecreeper in one of the small trees at the south end of the Parade Ground, a rather exposed position for such a shy bird. As usual, it ran round the back of the tree before I could get near it.

Two Mute Swans passed over on their way from the end of the Serpentine to the Round Pond, having finally given up the struggle after being bullied by the dominant swans on the lake. Yesterday there were 45 swans on the pond, and these will add to the number. Normally it is about 60.

Two Great Crested Grebes fishing along the edge of the Serpentine got too close to a pair of Moorhens and one of them was chased away. Moorhens look harmless but can be quite sharp if annoyed.

Sunday 28 September 2014

The family of four Jackdaws flew over the Vista and stopped for a moment on one of the chestnut trees used by the Little Owls. One of them flew right into the tree and perched barely ten feet from the male owl.

But, just as happened yesterday with the Jay, it acted as if it had not noticed the owl, and flew out again without anything happening. Perhaps these medium-sized corvids, which would certainly attack any owl if they were in a group, are not so brave on their own and decide that discretion is the better part of valour.

The owl certainly did notice the intrusion, and when the Jackdaw had gone he shifted to a different branch. He looks annoyed -- but then, Little Owls always look annoyed.

Not far away, a Jay was waiting to come down for a peanut. Here it jumps from one branch to another to have a better launching point for its swoop.

The male Tawny Owl was in his favourite place on the broken trunk of the horse chestnut tree where they have their nest.

There was a small flock of Goldfinches in a nearby horse chestnut. This is a young bird just beginning to grow the red feathers on its head.

You can see the damage done to the leaves by the larvae of the leaf miner moth, which has affected all the horse chestnuts in the park. The Goldfinch was poking vigorously at the surface of the leaves, apparently to extract the insects -- though you would have thought that the moths had grown up and left the leaves by now.

The Great Crested Grebes at the wire basket near the bridge were alternately feeding their chick and fighting their neighbours. Here the mother is bringing the chick a small perch, identifiable by the spines on its dorsal fin.

The water level in the Round Pond, which had been so high that it was slopping over the edge when there was a wind, has been allowed to fall two inches. This makes the concrete platform at the edge a perfect bathing place for Starlings.

However, the new arrangement of the pond edge is not good for Pied Wagtails. They used to run along the old sloping edge picking up insects, but now almost all the edge is under water, except in a few places where the workmen got the level wrong.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Two of the Jackdaws were prospecting for worms beside the Henry Moore sculpture. They were both adults, but this is just across the lake from where I saw the family of four flying a few days ago. When I gave one of them a piece of biscuit, both immediately crossed the lake. Maybe they were taking it to their young, though you would have expected these to be independent by now.

This young Blackbird in a yew bush in the Flower Walk now has almost all his black male plumage, with just a few brown feathers remaining. He is also beginning to get the yellow eye ring of an adult male. His beak will stay dark for several months yet before it turns an adult yellow.

Only the male Little Owl could be seen in the chestnut tree where the pair have been for several days. He was right at the top and hard to see in the leaves.

A Jay flew on to a nearby branch and I think didn't notice him, because it left him alone and flew down to take a peanut from my hand.

A Nuthatch in the leaf yard was walking along the underside of a branch, hanging on to the bark with its long, sharp, hooked claws.

Two families of Great Crested Grebes were having a territorial dispute under the bridge. This chick accompanied its parents for a while, but then lost interest and started looking for fish in the wire basket.

When it didn't find any, it amused itself by chasing a Moorhen under water.

The Moorhen fled on to the shore where its pursuer couldn't follow.

Several female Pochards have now arrived to join the males on the Long Water.

Friday 26 September 2014

There were five Goldcrests in a yew bush in the Flower Walk, and another three in the yew tree at the southwest corner of the bridge.

Goldcrests are short-lived birds, and many of them die in a hard winter. They make up for it by being highly prolific. More of them survived the recent mild winter than usual, so they have bred up to unusually large numbers.

There was a screeching commotion of Jays and Ring-Necked Parakeets at the Tawny Owls' nest tree. One of the owls, which had been sirring on a sheltered branch where we couldn't see him, suddenly rushed into the nest hole, while the angry birds continued to yell at it. This Jay can see down the top of the broken trunk where the nest is.

But all was peaceful in the chestnut tree where the two Little Owls were sitting companionably together.

This Carrion Crow is one of a pair that come to take peanuts from me when I go past the small boathouses on the Serpentine. Recently it has hurt its foot, and for several days couldn't put it down to the ground. But it is recovering, and today was the first day it could stand on two feet, though it is still limping.

Melissa, the crow who is the mate of Charlie and comes to the Italian Garden, is also a bit lame but recovering.

One of the Hobbies appeared briefly over the Serpentine, again coming from the tall towers of flats on the south side.

They don't nest on buildings as Peregrines do, and when they return from Africa next year will probably look for an old Carrion Crow's nest to reuse.

On the edge of the Serpentine, two Black-Headed Gulls were amusing themselves with fallen leaves, dropping them in the water and picking them up again.

It was the day for the monthly bird count, and I counted 45 Pochards on the Long Water. Here is one of them, looking very fine in the sunlight.

In a comment on yesterday's blog post, Amanda told me that the reason for almost all of them being male is that the sexes migrate at different times, and the drakes go first.

There are still only three Shovellers. Here is a female on the Long Water.

Thursday 25 September 2014

The male Tawny Owl was back in his favourite place in the pair's nest tree. They have thrown out this year's owlets to fend for themselves, and moulted and regrown their feathers, and now they have a few months' peace before the breeding season starts again in midwinter.

Both Little Owls were also in view, sitting together in the tree next to their nest tree. The female is in front.

The Hobbies are still here, and one flew over the Vista while I was looking for the Little Owls.

There are over 40 Pochards on the Long Water, straggling all down the east side. For some reason most of them are drakes.

The two female Shovellers have been joined by a male, seen here from the far side of the Long Water. These birds seem to arrive gradually, unlike the Pochards which came all at once in a flock.

The seven Mallard ducklings have been spoilt by visitors feeding them, and are now shameless beggars. Here they are touting for food at the Lido restaurant.

A Grey Heron has found that there are fish in the twigs of the abandoned Coots' nest at Peter Pan, and was trying to spear them. It didn't succeed while I was watching.

The Great Crested Grebes, on the other hand, have been fairly hauling fish out of this quite small place, which is easier to fish from below than above.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

The young Grey Wagtail was running along the shore at the Lido.

I haven't seen its parents for several months, but they fly all round the lake and the Dell and may be anywhere.

This wagtail, although much greyer, is a young Pied Wagtail. The flock had moved across the Parade Ground to the trampled grass near the bandstand.

One of the pair of Song Thrushes in the Flower Walk was eating yew berries.

Their quick digestive processes don't reach the poisonous interior of the seed in the berry, so that the bird is unharmed and the seed passes out to germinate. Mammals, with slower and more thorough digestion, might be poisoned if they ate these berries.

On the north shore of the Serpentine, two groups of Greylags were yelling at each other, and some of them actually came to blows.

I don't know what had annoyed these usually peaceable birds at a quiet time of year.

A young Herring Gull was eating a pigeon at the Dell restaurant.

I am watching the big gulls here to see if any of them is picking up the habit of hunting pigeons from the notorious pair of Lesser Black-Backs, but so far when other gulls have been eating pigeons it seems likely that they are the pair's leftovers. You can see that there is not much left on the carcase.

A Mute Swan on the Serpentine was shredding a plastic bag. As far as I could see, there was nothing in the bag, not even a few breadcrumbs. Maybe he was just working off  his temper.

A Great Crested Grebe being chased by a persistent chick was also showing signs of impatience.

This is one of the large band of migrant Pochards on the east side of the Long Water. He is under the willow tree near the bridge.