Friday 30 September 2016

A shower brought a flock of Mistle Thrushes on to the grass on Buck Hill to pull up worms.

For the Great Crested Grebes with younger chicks it was the endless duty of catching fish for them. This parent was doing well on the Long Water near the Italian Garden, catching three perch in five minutes which all disappeared into the ravenous youngster.

An more advanced youngster on the Serpentine was fishing at the edge, and cheekily surfaced under a Coot. It was chased away by the angry Coot.

Not in the slightest alarmed, it immediately caught a crayfish and took it into the middle of the lake to eat it.

Grebes never tire of the game of coming up under other birds, and go on playing it as adults.

The buoys at the Lido were lines with Black-Headed Gulls. One of them struck a balletic pose.

But as soon as one gull gets a bit of Arab flatbread, all the others take off as one bird to chase it and make it drop the food.

One of the young Mute Swans from the nest on the reed raft was pecking at something just under the waterline. It brought up what I think was a snail.

A few feet away the young Grey Heron that was rescued was playing with a stick, dropping it into the water and lunging at it. As with gulls that play the same game, this is useful practice for its feeding strategy.

It was good to see the heron enjoying itself after its recent ordeal'

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water. I could see half a dozen but there may have been more under the bushes.

There was a rare glimpse of one of the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial, I think the female of the pair.

The female owl near the leaf yard had come down quite low in the uphill tree to enjoy the sunshine.

Honeybees are still busy. This one was on a purple flower in the Dell.

Thursday 29 September 2016

The young Grey Heron that was rescued is recovering its confidence . It was walking along the edge of the Dell restaurant terrace looking for food scraps.

A young Great Crested Grebe and its father were fishing together on the Serpentine. The chick wasn't begging; it was helping, or trying to help. They didn't catch anything while I was there, and probably the young grebe was more of a hindrance that a help. But it shows that the young ones are growing up.

A young Lesser Black-Backed Gull had found a packet of Frazzles (crispy bacon flavour, if you were wondering) and, after tipping out and eating the remaining contents, was playing with it.

An adult thought there was still food in the packet, drove the young one off, and grabbed it.

But finding there was nothing left, it threw down the packet and flew away. It is only young gulls that play with things.

Another Lesser Black-Back seized a peanut that I had thrown to a Carrion Crow. Puzzled as to how to eat it, it dropped it, but still prevented the crow from getting near it.

The crow walked round the back of the gull, jumped over its head and seized the peanut. The move took me (as well as the gull) completely by surprise, so this is a rotten picture.

Some Black-Headed Gulls whizzed around trying to catch bits of bread that someone was throwing in the air.

This Canada Goose had been given some grapes. It ate one, didn't like it much, and left the rest.

The gulls weren't interested either. But Blackbirds and Rose-Ringed parakeets love grapes.

A Wood Pigeon was eating laurel berries near the bridge.

The cherry laurel (not related to the bay tree, which is sometimes called a laurel) is well known to be highly poisonous, and I was surprised. but I looked it up, and see that the poisonous part of the berries is the stones. Presumably, as with yew berries, the stones pass through the bird's quick-moving digestive system untouched, so the poison doesn't get out.

The weather brightened after early rain, and lunchtime brought people to the terrace of the Lido restaurant. The resident Starlings understand about lunchtime and the effect of sunny weather, and were waiting expectantly on the railings and the roof.

The Nuthatches in the leaf yard also have a good understanding of feeding time, and were coming down to the railings to take food.

The female Little Owl was a few yards away in the nest tree.

There was the usual queue for the bath in the Italian Garden.

If a pigeon takes too long bathing, the next one  comes down and chases it off.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard had a clash with a Magpie and retreated into his hole. The Magpie followed and insolently peered into the hole.

After it had gone, the owl emerged, looking quite calm. It's all part of an owl's life.

The rescued young Grey Heron flew down from its usual place on the raft into the Dell for a bit of fishing in the stream.

It was surrounded by the usual rubbish. I do hope it will have the sense to avoid this, especially the Coca-Cola can. A couple of years ago a goose got a ring-pull can stuck on its bill.

Two young Great Crested Grebes were fishing together on the Serpentine, breaking off occasionally to practise their head-shaking greeting ritual.

Their father looked on, relieved at being left in peace after the long labour of feeding them.

A Greylag Goose was having a very energetic wash.

At the Dell restaurant, someone was feeding the Mute Swans curry and rice out of a spoon. The swans seemed happy with this. It certainly saves you from getting bitten.

A gust of wind gave a young Moorhen a Marilyn Monroe moment.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate was eating a freshly caught victim.

The male gull was some way along the shore by himself, looking for another pigeon. Usually he shares his kills with his mate, but wouldn't give her a whole pigeon. I wonder whether she caught it herself. I have seen her having a go at this.

A Wood Pigeon was eating hawthorn berries at the foot of Buck Hill.

A Starling at the Lido restaurant decided to head south.

The two Nuthatches came down to take seeds from the railings of the leaf yard.

A clump of amaryllis has unexpectedly emerged at the corner of the Dell. A bee was rolling around in one of the flowers, as if intoxicated by the nectar.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

The young Grey Heron that was rescued yesterday was in the same place on the reed raft, idly stretching a wing. Its feathers were properly preened and it was looking fit and well.

This heron on the Long Water near the Italian Garden often stands in the water looking ashore, an odd reversal of a heron's usual behaviour. Possibly it is hoping for a rat to pass by in the brambles.

A Carrion Crow on Buck Hill did have a rat, though it's not clear how it got it. The rat looked quite fresh.

A Magpie was eating the remains of a Canada Goose on the Serpentine island. The goose seems to have been considerably torn up, which raises the disturbing possibility that foxes are now swimming to the island. It isn't far for a fox to swim, but so far it seems to have been a safe place for waterfowl to rest and nest.

Another Magpie was giving a Little Owl near the leaf yard a hard time.

A few years ago on the Serpentine there was an odd couple of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull, and this may be them again. They were both holding bits of leaf, and I think this was a bonding ritual rather than play.

Then they called loud and long to each other. They are certainly mates.

This Black-Headed Gull with a white plastic ring 28P1 was on the Serpentine on 20 December last year as a juvenile. Now it's come back. Some of our Black-Headed Gulls come from as far away as Finland, but when I reported the ring I found that this one was hatched in Reading, so it hasn't had far to travel.

There was another Black-Headed Gull here on the 18th with a yellow ring 2PSN. Both were ringed by the North Thames Gull Group, so probably it's equally local. Will report both, but don't expect exciting news.

The three young Mute Swans on the Long Water have bcome quite independent, roaming around without their parents, But they haven't been thrown out yet, and the family came together when they saw someone feeding the birds at the Vista.

The young ones haven't made a successful flight yet. It takes a lot of practice before they can keep their balance in the air.

There was a brief glimpse of the young Grey Wagtail on the little plank bridge in the Dell. It was hatched in a nest under this bridge.

A male Ring-Necked Parakeet was eating hawthorn berries at the bottom of Buck Hill.

A Robin was singing very quietly to itself in a yew tree beside the Long Water.