Monday 30 November 2015

The Mute Swan that was attacked by a dog yesterday seems to be recovering. He was in the bushes beside the Vista, and you can see that he is holding his leg in a more natural position, though it will take time to heal.

Later he swam over to the gravel bank on the other side of the lake and rested on the slope. He would not be able to get out of the water or walk, or of course take off, but he will be all right afloat for the time being.

I couldn't find the Black Swan for some time, but then spotted his girlfriend. He was nearby, lurking in the shadows under the bridge.

As well as the two Mute Swans with black faces, we have this one with a speckled face. Possibly all three are siblings.

A Great Crested Grebe was taking off, helped by the strong wind which allows a shorter takeoff run for this laborious business. It is one of a group of five that flew into the Serpentine last night. They were still in the gregarious mood that grebes adopt when on the move, and this one was flying over to rejoin the others.

A strong wind makes Cormorants hold their wings horizontal when drying them. If they stood in the normal upright position they would be blown over.

It was also making it difficult for these young Herring Gulls trying to walk along the line of buoys at the Lido. The gulls are too heavy for the buoys and tend to tip them over, and the wind caused them to lose their footing the whole time.

Of course they don't need to stand on these unstable things. It's probably just another gull game.

A screeching flock of Ring-Necked Parakeets swept over the Serpentine.

The rowan tree on Buck Hill is still full of Mistle Thrushes.

Plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares have been seen in St James's Park, but we don't seem to have any at the moment.

A Robin rooting around in dead leaves beside the Long Water had caught a small grub.

Sunday 29 November 2015

The male of the Mute Swan pair on the Long Water has been injured, it seems by a dog belonging to one of the usual idiots who think the law doesn't apply to them. He was holding his leg stiffly and sometimes waving it around, and was clearly in pain, but I don't think the leg was broken. I called Malcolm the Wildlife Officer, but it takes him a while to get over from Richmond so I don't have news of the swan's condition.

The Black Swan and his girlfriend were near the Diana fountain, pushing the other swans around in their usual way. But aggressive as they are, they never cause injury.

Another swan passed a couple of Great Crested Grebes who were enjoying an affectionate display.

On the Serpentine near the bridge, an eddy of wind was driving a red balloon in circles. The Coots were awed by this phenomenon and got out of its way.

Coots can be bolder with balloons, as we saw back in 2012 when one tried to add a silver balloon to its nest as an ornament.

The Pochards are back on the Long Water, at least two dozen of them. They come and go mysteriously, flying by night so you never see them on the move.

Two Cormorants were fishing in the wire baskets near the bridge, catching a lot of small fish.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was also hunting. He lunged at this one, but it escaped by a fraction of an inch.

A Black-Headed Gull on the Long Water was playing with an empty nut packet in an attractive shade of violet.

This female Pied Wagtail was sprinting around on the road at the north edge of the Serpentine, effortlessly dodging passing cyclists, skateboarders and runners. I think it must be the one that has been behaving so fearlessly at the Lido restaurant. These little birds are so fast that human movement is no threat to them.

A foraging flock of Long-Tailed Tits was working its way through the trees next to the Bayswater Road.

Saturday 28 November 2015

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were a scene of furious activity, with Mistle Thrushes flying in to eat the berries ...

and rattling loudly at each other and at the other birds in the tree, which included Blackbirds ...

... and Starlings.

At the bottom of the hill a foraging flock of Long-Tailed Tits were carrying a Goldcrest along with them, and I managed to snatch one distant and poor-quality shot of it before it moved on.

A Pied Wagtail poking for bugs in a puddle beside the Serpentine was ruffled by the wind, with choppy waves breaking in the background.

A Carrion Crow landed on one of the gas lamps beside the lake, causing the loose top to tip over so the bird nearly lost its balance.

The Black Swan was near the Diana fountain again. He had a good stretch.

A couple of hundred yards along the shore we found the Canada-Greylag hybrid goose which has problems with balance. As we approached, a dog ran at it and it flew into the water, which is a relief as we had thought it was unable to fly. It becomes quite brisk and normal when you feed it, and was even seeing off a Carrion Crow that was trying to take its food.

Two Tufted Ducks were diving near Peter Pan.

Mallards may be common, but they make a pretty picture with a background of dead leaves.

Friday 27 November 2015

At the island, two Herring Gulls were quarrelling about something, probably a fish snatched from a Great Crested Grebe which was nearby.

Various kinds of gull were still trying to snatch fish off the Cormorants. But they just got the surrounding weed, as the fish had been swallowed in a flash.

This Cormorant had the time to throw the weed aside before it was grabbed by a gull.

Another Cormorant missed its footing when trying to jump on to a post near the island, but managed to grab the chain as it fell to avoid ignominiously splashing into the lake.

A Pied Wagtail on the shore of the Serpentine also made a mistake, seizing what it thought was a grub but turned out to be a bit of grass, which it spat out.

A Blackbird beside the Henry Moore sculpture had better luck with a worm.

There were lots of Mistle Thrushes flying in and out of the rowan trees on Buck Hill, sometimes eating berries, sometimes just chasing each other through the branches.

They are much less shy about being photographed than the migrant Blackbirds, which fly out of the far side of the tree as you approach it -- they aren't used to being in a park.

A big flock of Long-Tailed Tits, together with other tits, was working its way through the bushes on the east side of the Long Water.

The Black Swan now knows me and comes to be given a biscuit. He was at the landing stage beside the Diana fountain.

His girlfriend was a couple of hundred yards away -- they can't spend all their time canoodling when there are serious matters like food to be attended to.

Someone had poured some red lentils on to the shore of the Serpentine. Geese, pigeons and gulls all seemed to like these.

Thursday 26 November 2015

The Black Swan's girlfriend was alone and looking a bit sad, but he soon came to find her and they went up to the bridge.

The Black Swan seems nervous about going on to the Long Water, and has probably had an encounter with the tough pair of Mute Swans who own it. But there are some tempting waterside plants to eat. He let her go under the bridge, and when she came back undisturbed, he went himself for a quick snack. He only stayed for two minutes before retreating to the safety of the Serpentine.

The Cormorants are now almost always bringing up their fish draped in weed that has to be separated and discarded.

It seems that the powerful lunge and grab of their technique is not very accurate. Sometimes they just come up with a beakful of dead leaves and no fish.

The Great Crested Grebes are much more agile and precise, and seldom have this problem. Here is a young grebe from the nest in the reeds on the Long Water, about three and a half months old, but already an expert.

This Egyptian Goose is much smaller than the others. I think it's the one from the brood on the Serpentine in which it was tiny and young-looking compared to its siblings. But it seems bright and active, and was boldly pushing gulls and pigeons aside when someone was feeding the birds.

I threw a peanut to a Carrion Crow and a young Herring Gull intercepted it, shattering the shell with a couple of swift pecks -- harder for a gull than a crow, as it can't hold the nut down with its weak little feet. Then it picked up the largest piece of the shell and played with it for several minutes.

The usual pair of Herring Gulls were in the Diana fountain enclosure, looking for worms in their usual place in the corner. When they wandered off in different directions, one of them called its mate.

A Robin on a tree near the bridge was waiting impatiently to be fed.

The shire horses were out on Buck Hill again, this time with a chain harrow. I don't know what this was supposed to do to the grass, but it was very efficient at picking up dead leaves, and avoided the din of mechanical blowers.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

A bunch of Ring-Necked Parakeets were milling around on the path near Peter Pan, apparently picking something up. I couldn't see any food there, so probably they were collecting grit, as birds do to help them mash up food in their crops. But they could have chosen a less busy place to do it.

A few moments of sunshine started a Mistle Thrush singing in the top of a lime tree on Buck Hill.

Song Thrushes sing quite readily on sunny winter days, Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds much less so.

There were plenty of Jays in the leaf yard waiting to be given peanuts.

The Black Swan and his girlfriend were being followed by the girlfriend's brother. The Black Swan didn't like this and chased the brother off, pushing him right up to the far end of the Serpentine.

While I was watching this I met some people from California who had come to see the Little Owls. Sadly, these were not to be found. But they also wanted to see a Pochard. There were none on the Long Water, where there may be 40 winter migrants on one day and none the next. Luckily the handful of resident Pochards at the island are much more reliable, and we found this female resting on the edge.

The Teal is now growing adult feathers on his back. I hope he stays for long enough for us to see the complete transformation, as we did with the Scaup earlier this year.

The Cormorants fishing in the baskets near the bridge have a peculiar technique. They cruise over the top of the basket looking for a flash of silver. When they see it they lunge down into the basket, and their forward momentum causes them to make a complete somersault. It looks most undignified, but it works well.

A young Herring Gull was watching the spectacle from a nearby post, waiting for the Cormorant to be slow swallowing a fish so that it could swoop in and grab it.

But Cormorants know about this, and swallow their fish in a fraction of a second as they surface.

The mild temperature and sunny intervals had brought several rabbits out around the Henry Moore sculpture to crop the grass. One paused for a moment to scratch its jaw.