Saturday 6 December 2014

It was a bright frosty day. A Carrion Crow on the Parade Ground was refreshing itself with a sinister-looking pot snack, but the word 'Organic' could just be seen on the label, so it was probably less toxic than the usual rubbish they eat.

At the leaf yard the small birds were extremely hungry, and both Nuthatches ...

... and both Coal Tits came down many times to be fed.

The Coal Tit has remarkably long claws for grasping twigs. Its right foot is not completely clenched because it is lower. The automatic gripping mechanism of songbirds' feet is engaged when its tarsi (the backward-hinging joints above the feet) are flexed, and its right leg is less flexed than the left one.

Another example of a bird's vice-like grip: you would think that this Ring-Necked Parakeet holding on to the tip of an iron spike with one foot would be uncomfortable. But she perched there happily for several minutes eating a peanut.

The male Tawny Owl was in his favourite place on the nest tree.

The male Little Owl was in and out all day, attracted by the sunshine to his perch on the nest tree, and fleeing into the leaf yard when Jays approached his exposed position. But he had the leisure to give me a wink.

On the Round Pond, the mother of the eight young Egyptian Geese led them into the water as the stupid owner of an Alsatian let his dog off the leash.

Their father was behind them chivvying them on. It is very noticeable what attentive parents they are, and it has paid off in the survival of all their young.

There was a commotion in the middle of the Serpentine, with half a dozen Cormorants splashing around and gulls wheeling over them. At the centre of the disturbance was this.

It looks to me as if the Cormorant has caught a pike, and the pike has been putting up a struggle and has been lacerated by the bird grimly holding on to it. Or was the bird trying to bite off its head to kill it and thus be able to swallow the ferocious fish in safety? Anyway, a few seconds later it was successfully eaten.


  1. A friend of mine from Helsinki goes on walks feeds the wild birds. He has photos of coal tits feeding from his hand. He tells me that they are extremely picky eaters and won't come to him for nuts or seeds but are crazy for biscuits ( rather like our rich tea) and won't bother with anything else. Sue

    1. The Coal Tits here are also choosy, but they love pine nuts. In the wild they pick the seeds out of pine cones, hence their German name Tannenmeise.