Wednesday 30 September 2015

A Cormorant fishing in the shadows under the bridge caught a large perch, and turned it round to swallow it head first and avoid being spiked by its spiny dorsal fin.

Another Cormorant, replete after a day's fishing, was heading out of the park to spend the night downstream on the Thames.

The Great Crested Grebe family on the Long Water, also busy fishing, were annoyed by a Black-Headed Gull trying to grab their fish. The father chased it away.

A group of Greylags were having a communal wash on the Serpentine, diving and chasing each other around in a good-natured way, and of course turning upside down and waving their orange feet in the air.

It's surprising to see these big birds diving and staying under for several seconds.

One of the hybrid geese had also been bathing, and was flapping its speckled wings.

Most of the Canada-Greylag hybrids on the lake are awkward looking, but this one is quite elegant. However, it lost its poise when it slipped on the algae at the edge of the lake and fell flat on its belly.

Some Starlings on the Round Pond were also having a bath together.

This is the same Lesser Black-Backed Gull as yesterday, in the same place on the edge of the Serpentine, but with a new toy, a decayed goose feather left over from the big moult in June.

The male Little Owl was basking in the sunshine on his favourite branch.

When I went past the tree later there was a lot of calling and I went to see what had happened. The owl was in the other tree, but I couldn't find anything amiss. Probably he had been annoyed by some kind of crow.

Sadly, the tree people have hacked up the beech tree next to the damaged Tawny Owls' tree, removing the other places where they liked sitting. Heaven knows where the owls are now.

I really don't understand these people's strategy. They assault what seem to be healthy trees, while huge bits fall off trees that they have overlooked. For example, everyone knew that the Tawnies' nest tree which collapsed recently was in a dangerous state: there was an enormous hole right across the hollow trunk from side to side that you could see through.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

A Lesser Black-Backed Gull was walking up the shore of the Serpentine looking for food. There was a stick in front of it, and I knew it would be impossible for the bird to walk past without playing with this, just as you can't pass a can in the street without kicking it. And sure enough, the gull picked it up and threw it around a few times before proceeding with its search.

At Peter Pan, two Black-Headed Gulls were playing their favourite game of knocking each other off posts. In fact they both lost their footing, as the one that had just arrived landed a little too near the edge and slipped off.

A teenage Moorhen was eating lichen off a floating branch, and paused to take a drink to wash down this rather gritty meal.

A Tufted Duck on the Serpentine turned upside down to preen his belly.

A Grey Heron at the island gave me a piercing stare down its long lethal beak. This view is the last thing that many a fish and rat have seen.

The sunshine had brought people on to the terrace of the Lido restaurant, and the usual Pied Wagtail was running around under their chairs.

I used to think that it was looking for food crumbs, but after seeing a Starling catch a Crane Fly here I reckon that it may be after insects attracted by the crumbs.

Another patch of grass on Buck Hill has just been mown, and the local Carrion Crows were taking advantage of the exposed insects, and of being able to walk more easily than they can in long grass.

Under the trees at the foot of the hill there was a patch of Yellow Fieldcap mushrooms, larger and shinier than the rather withered ones I saw earlier near the Little Owls' trees.

The male Little Owl, on his usual branch, was annoyed by a squirrel climbing up towards him and gave it a fierce yellow glare.

Monday 28 September 2015

A Ring-Necked Parakeet in the leaf yard was eating yew leaves. These are the most poisonous part of the plant. Birds can get away with eating the berries, since only the seeds inside are poisonous and are not digested in a bird's fast digestive system, but I wonder what happened to the parakeet here.

A Starling was wandering around the terrace of the Lido restaurant, apparently picking up crumbs. But when I blew up the pictures, you could see that actually catching crane flies, of which there are large numbers all over the park at the moment.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water were sticking to traditional fare. Here two chicks make a rush for the latest fish.

There were five Shovellers on the Long Water -- not much of a showing but more should arrive in a while. They are on the far right of this picture taken across the lake. I haven't cropped into it to show them more clearly, because at the far left there are two terrapins sunbathing, both Red-Eared Sliders.

Above them in a willow tree, a Grey Heron was also sunbathing, in the Space Shuttle posture.

A little group of Mallards flew past. The drakes are now in full breeding plumage and have started chasing the females, although there will be no actual breeding till next spring.

A Cormorant was preening on a post near Peter Pan, with the sunlight showing off the oily iridescence of its feathers.

The male Little Owl was in this year's nest tree. It was windy and his usual perch was swaying too much to be comfortable.

These mushrooms were growing on wood chips that have been laid as a mulch under some plane trees near the Physical Energy statue. I can't identify their species, but if Mario is reading this I bet he can. Update: it's same species as I photographed on 11 September in a different patch of wood chips, a Stubble Rosegill, Volvariella gliocephala. But this one is white where the last one was grey and shinier and more sticky-looking. Thanks. Mario.

Sorry this blog post is a bit late. My internet connection went down.

Sunday 27 September 2015

One of the Great Crested Grebes from the nest on the fallen poplar came too far up the Long Water for the liking of the pair from the reed bed, and there was a fight, with two of the chicks watching with interest -- the third one was still coming up when I took this picture. As usual, there was a good deal of splashing and shrieking but no one was hurt, and the intruder was driven off towards the bridge.

The grebe chicks from the poplar are still quite small and haven't grown their flight feathers yet.

The older set of chicks are already brief making practice runs for the difficult business of taking off, and I hope to catch one on camera soon.

There was another scrimmage on the Serpentine, of Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, almost all juvenile, trying to grab a slice of bread. A smaller Black-Headed Gull hovered above like a scrum half waiting to seize anything that came out.

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water. The males are still not fully out of eclipse and still have some speckled plumage.

A Carrion Crow was eating rowan berries in one of the trees on Buck Hill.

In the next tree a Magpie was doing the same.

This demonstration of corvine power had driven out the Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes and Starlings.

I couldn't find any Reed Warblers in the reed bed near the bridge, and they may already have set off on their long migration. A small brown bird in the reeds near the Diana fountain turned out to be a Wren. These are residents.

Both adult Little Owls were on view. The male had reclaimed his favourite branch on last year's nest tree ...

... and the female was in her usual place in this year's nest tree, as usual quite hard to see among the leaves.

Although they are a pair, outside the nesting season they like to keep their distance.

Saturday 26 September 2015

The Cormorants on the Long Water seem to be taking over the new gravel bank at the Vista. It's a lot easier to get on to than the wooden posts they have been using.

This bank was built to attract the wading birds that are occasional visitors to the park. I haven't seen one here yet, but if it turns up it is going to have to fight for its place among the many other species that are using the bank.

The foolish Egyptian couple haven't been seen for a while, and it seemed that they were nesting again. Now they have shown up on the Vista, their usual territory. They may have lost another brrod within a couple of days, as they have consistently done several times a year for the past ten years.

Across the lake from Peter Pan, the Great Crested Grebe family were being heavily harassed by Black-Headed Gulls, and had to shelter under the bushes.

A pair of Nuthatches came down to be fed at the railings of the leaf yard. This one had found a nut by itself, perhaps an underripe hazel nut.

One of the yew trees in the Flower Walk was full of Mistle Thrushes eating the berries.

Near the Italian Garden someone had thrown down some extra-thin grissini for a Feral Pigeon. It was interested and tried to eat them, but couldn't manage to peck pieces out of these rigid little sticks.

Weekends bring more and more people to feed the Ring-Necked Parakeets beside the leaf yard. Today there were over twenty at one time.

The female Little Owl was in what has now become her usual place, enjoying a sunny interval. She is getting calmer about being photographed.

The Reed Warblers are still in the reed bed near the bridge, but although I went by several times they wouldn't come to the front to be photographed. However, there was a good view of a female Migrant Hawker dragonfly, in her tiger-striped colours looking every bit as elegant as her blue mate.

The Cetti's Warbler is still singing nearby.

Friday 25 September 2015

The yew trees have berries on them, which were attracting Blackbirds, and also this Ring-Necked Parakeet which was eating unripe berries although there were plenty of ripe ones.

The holly berries are ripe too, and a Wood Pigeon was taking advantage of them.

This tree beside the Long Water also had Blackbirds, Starlings and Ring-Necked Parakeets in it, as well as a Great Tit who was only there for the bugs.

I heard a male Cetti's Warbler singing in the reed bed just to the east of the Lido swimming area, and three of them could be seen moving about, though too hidden by foliage to be photographed. Shortly afterwards I met David Element, who had heard a male Cetti in the usual reed bed near the bridge at almost the same time. It's impossible to tell whether this means there are two males, or whether a single male had made a swift flight -- they move around over a wide area.

The Reed Warblers were still in the bed near the bridge, but wouldn't appear for a photograph while I was there. The usual tits came out to be fed while I was waiting. Here is a Blue Tit looking very elegant.

This is just an ordinary Feral Pigeon on a post near Peter Pan, but it has a striking colour scheme.

The female Little Owl was on the usual branch in last year's nest tree. At another time she was in the other tree. But I haven't seen the male owl for four days. He may have found a new perch in the leaf yard.

Some of the Tufted Ducks have almost completely regrown their sharp black and white breeding plumage.

A Great Crested Grebe had caught a fish under the parapet of the Italian Garden. She ate it herself rather than giving it to a chick. Even the most devoted parents have to eat some time.

There are a lot of Crane Flies (the respectable name for Daddy-Long-Legs) on Buck Hill. The length of their legs is really astonishing, reaching from side to side of this picture.

A closer view shows that they are true flies, with only one pair of flying wings and the hind wings reduced to club-shaped halteres, which vibrate to act as a kind of gyroscope, keeping the insect steady in flight.