Thursday 15 September 2016

A pair of Nuthatches made a welcome reappearance at the leaf yard, calling to each other and taking seeds from the railings.

When winter comes and there are fewer insects, they will be keener on being fed, and with luck will restart coming to our hands. I give them pine nuts, which all the small birds love, and sunflower hearts. This is a fairly natural diet for an insect-eating bird when the supply of insects is low.

But the birds in the park are given all kinds of strange and unsuitable things by visitors. This Canada Goose was eating couscous, with some difficulty as it had to keep taking sips of water. Starchy grains and bread are definitely not good for birds.

Luckily there is plenty of natural food to mitigate the harm. These Greylags were happily browsing the mixture of plants in one of the reed rafts.

And a pair of Egyptian Geese were eating the duckweed that is spreading at the north end of the Long Water. However fast geese and ducks consume this stuff, it seems to grow back faster.

The usual pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had a more nutritious meal on his mind, and was wondering whether an attack down the slope of the boathouse roof would work.

His mate, at the other end of the roof, was having a squabble with a young Herring Gull.

The young Moorhens from the nest in the drain near the bridge, though still quite small, are beginning to grow flight feathers.

There is a family of Wrens in the brambles under the broken horse chestnut tree a few yards north of the bridge.

Both the Little Owls near the leaf yard were visible. This is the male, on his favourite branch but in a slightly different place which made him easier to photograph.

His mate was in the next tree up the hill, which is her usual place at the moment.

The horse-drawn mower was out on Buck Hill, giving some teenagers a bit of experience in hayraking.

I went to Regent's Park to try to find the Black Swan, but couldn't see him. However, there was a Little Grebe catching fish near the iron bridge, so of course I took a picture of it.

Perhaps the Black Swan is in St James's Park. There is a single Black Swan there, part of the captive collection, whose mate was killed by a fox. I don't know what sex it is (and indeed am uncertain about our Black Swan), but there is a chance they might get together.

There is good news about the caterpillar I saw yesterday. Claudia Watts, one of the Royal Parks ecologists, tells me it isn't an Oak Processionary moth but a Brown-Tail moth. This also has irritant hairs that cause rashes and breathing difficulties, but they are less severe. It's a good idea to give any hairy caterpillar a wide berth.


  1. Maybe he was feeling lonely and sought for others of his kind? And what will become of the adopted Cygnet if he isn't around?

    Black Swan, come baaaaaack!

    1. Anyway, it's probably good for the adopted cygnet, which will remember that it's a Mute Swan and not be hopelessly conflicted. It's large enough to make its own way in the world.

    2. I work near St James Park, so will have a look tomorrow or Monday

  2. for a moment I thought by 'teenagers' you meant those two chaps behind the horse-mower...

  3. I think people panic about these caterpillars a bit too much. Don't handle them and you will be fine. Lots of caterpillars have hairs of course, most are harmless, and cuckoos love them!