Thursday 31 December 2015

The Black Swan is in Regent's Park. I went to check, and he greeted me at once and came over for a biscuit. I fear he didn't go willingly -- people have absurd notions about 'owning' birds -- and hope he will come back. He certainly knows the way.

While I was there I photographed a Little Grebe. We see too few of them on our own lake, though I think we have one permanent resident on the Long Water, silent because there is no other Little Grebe for it to call to.

Back on home territory, some Coots were fighting on the Serpentine.

The usual Shoveller, one of very few on the lake at the moment, was foraging at the edge of the water near the island. He is an immature drake, just beginning to grow his adult green head feathers.

We've had a lot of pictures of Great Crested Grebes swimming over the carpet of dead leaves at the Serpentine outflow, but I can't resist one more. Their speed and elegance under water make an exhilarating sight.

A Black-Headed Gull was happily picking up and throwing down a bit of filthy old rag.

The usual little birds came out to be fed in the leaf yard, including a Nuthatch ...

... a Coal Tit ...

... a Blue Tit ...

... and a Robin.

They have now learnt that they should keep away from the place where people feed the Ring-Necked Parakeets, and you will find most of them a hundred yards up the hill.

A pair of foxes were making a tremendous racket on the west side of the Long Water, and it looks as if we may have another litter of cubs soon.

A very happy New Year to you all, and thanks for reading the blog.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

On a windy day, a pair of Carrion Crows were playing in the updraught caused by the enormous slab side of the Royal Lancaster Hotel.

The waves on the lake made it difficult for a Shoveller to shovel, and it had to come into the edge and upend like a Mallard.

Someone had thrown a bagful of sliced carrots into the water at Peter Pan. The ducks and geese and even the Coots were ignoring them, and the only birds that seemed to like them were Black-Headed Gulls, though even they may just have been attracted by the bright colour.

A Carrion Crow had done better, finding a ham sandwich in the Diana fountain enclosure.

A Cormorant near the Italian Garden was skilfully separating a perch from a strand of algae that had come up with it.

A Great Crested Grebe was searching for smaller fish among the sunken dead leaves at the outflow of the Serpentine.

A Pied Wagtail was looking for bugs in the sand of the horse track along the side of the lake.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits was also on the hunt for insects in the trees near the bridge.

A Black-Headed Gull was enjoying a vigorous wash near the Lido.

When Robins are cold, they fluff themselves up so much that they become almost spherical.

Despite going round the lake twice and up to the Round Pond, I couldn't find the Black Swan.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

The  sunshine brought many small birds out of the bushes., including a Nuthatch which posed obligingly on a twig.

A Blue Tit was looking for insects in a bay tree.

A Coal Tit was hanging upside down in a place where even a Blue Tit might have found it hard to get a toehold.

And a Great Tit was not doing anything except look brilliant yellow in the bright sunlight.

A Carrion Crow wandering among the snowdrops near the Albert Memorial had found a bit of bread.

A pair of Egyptian Geese seem to have stolen one of the Grey Heron nests on the Serpentine island. You would think that a heron could easily evict them, but perhaps it is the persistence of the Egyptians that wins. These takeovers have become a serious problem in the big heronry on the island in Regent's Park.

On another of the nests, a Grey Heron was holding its own.

In front of the island a row of Cormorants was occupying the posts. The one at the far end is already developing the white head feathers of its breeding plumage. The extent to which Cormorants develop white heads varies a lot from one bird to another.

A Greylag was preening its wings at the Lido. They have very large wings, but manage to unfold them more elegantly than the Egyptian Goose I photographed on the 24th.

The Black Swan was hard to find, but eventually I saw him on the far side of the reed bed at the Diana fountain, pulling out reeds and eating the softer bits of the stiff dry leaves.

Monday 28 December 2015

A Treecreeper was running around on the big oak tree just inside the southwest corner of the leaf yard. I didn't get many pictures today, so here are two views of this charming little bird in the morning sunlight.

The sun had also brought out a butterfly, which was reported near the Serpentine Gallery. I didn't see it, and this picture wasn't taken today, but from the description it must have been a Peacock butterfly, which sometimes manages to overwinter as an adult.

Two Robins were singing loudly at each other in the bushes at the back of the Lido bathing area.

The pair of Grey Herons on the Serpentine island were standing companionably side by side. But there has been no further sign of nest building, and it seems that their little burst of activity has ended.

The Black Swan and his girlfriend were behind the baskets of plants at the terrace of the Dell restaurant.

A Moorhen was washing busily nearby.

And a Great Crested Grebe was languidly stretching out a big foot.

Just up the shore, the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull claimed another victim, to the horror of the Bank Holiday visitors going to the funfair.

Sunday 27 December 2015

The Teal appeared again at the north end of the Long Water again after ten days out of sight. He is now completely adult in appearance.

There was also a Cormorant hoovering up fish under the parapet of the Italian Garden.

The Black Swan and his girlfriend were cruising around near the Diana fountain.

A Greylag Goose was washing near the Lido.

Several pairs of Egyptian Geese were flying around Kensington Gardens checking possible nest sites in hollow trees.

A Wood Pigeon was looking for berries against an unseasonal background of blossom brought on by the mild weather.

A Grey Heron was preening on the roof of one of the small boathouses.

At the end of the roof a Carrion Crow was keeping a lookout from one of the wooden spikes. When it saw me coming it called to its companions and they all came in from the surrounding trees to beg for peanuts.

There were six Jackdaws near the Henry Moore sculpture, running around in the grass looking for worms. These too came over to be fed. A few months ago we reckoned that the total number of these recently returned birds was up to nine. It looks as if there are more now.

Saturday 26 December 2015

There are still a few fallen rowan berries under the trees on Buck Hill, and a Redwing was gathering up the last of them.

In spite of the mild weather, the small songbirds are now very hungry. Great Tits ...

... and Blue Tits ...

...pour out of the leaf yard in mobs if they see anyone they know to be carrying food for them.

Two Wood Pigeons were fighting about something in the shrubbery under the Triangle car park.

But the Black Swan and his girlfriend were having a peaceful time together, and neither of them attacked any of the other swans while I was with them.

Several people have said that she is becoming more attached to him, and certainly they seem to be spending more time together than they did a couple of weeks ago.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose was preening her pale wings in her usual place on the south shore of the Serpentine. Egyptians tend to look like a parcel coming undone when they are doing this.

The speckled hybrid goose had finished preening its wings and was having a flap to settle the feathers.

A Common Gull was also preening, more elegantly.

Their dark eyes give them a gentle appearance, in contrast to the implacable pale yellow-green stare of an adult Herring Gull. It's an illusion: they are gulls, constantly on the lookout for something to grab.

A young Herring Gull had seen just that, and dived into the lake to seize it.

Another one was playing with a golden clam, an invasive species which first appeared in the lake a couple of years ago.