Saturday 3 September 2016

The changeable weather had kept the Saturday crowds out of the park, and Buck Hill was deserted, so that a flock of Mistle Thrushes could roam around freely on the grass.

There were none in the rowan trees at the top of the hill, just some Blackbirds eating the berries. This is a young one, more speckled than an adult female.

Another young Blackbird was on the path at the bottom of the Dell, calmly rummaging about in some dead leaves while people walked inches away. They are less shy than adults.

In the stream in the Dell, a pair of Moorhens were repairing an old nest, helped by the chicks -- or maybe they thought their parent was bringing food rather than leaves.

One of the chicks wandered around in the grass ...

... for a moment looking like Sir Henry Raeburn's portrait of the Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch.

Another Moorhen, in the Italian Garden, was taking a moment off feeding duty to have a preen. But it was facing downwind, and a stiff gust disarranged its careful work.

There is a new hybrid goose on the Long Water, presumably another Canada-Greylag cross. It is rather small and dark and has yellow feet, unlike either of its parents. These hybrids are very variable.

The dominant Mute Swans on the Long Water have cleared out all the others, as they do every few days. But they have left the Black Swan alone, possibly after meeting some resistance.

The adopted cygnet is here too, but keeping apart from the dominant pair's three cygnets, which have grown into hulking teenagers and learnt their parents' aggressiveness.

One of the Great Crested Grebe chicks saw its parent with a fish and raced up to seize it, coming to an abrupt halt at just the right moment.

Grebes' peculiar swimming action allows them to brake sharply, and even swim backwards.

We're used to the first-year big gulls on the Serpentine being Herring Gulls from the Paddington colony. But there are now a lot of juvenile Lesser Black-Backs mixed up with them. On average they are slightly darker, smaller and more delicate looking than young Herring Gulls.

But they only way to be sure is to watch one fly away. Its flight feathers are the same colour all along the wing, like this.

Young Herring Gulls have paler inner primaries.

The Little Owl near the leaf yard made a brief appearance, but went inside the tree when the wind got up.


  1. What a wonderful comparison between the young Moorhen and the skating Reverend Robert Walker. You caught the action very well!

    1. It only occurred to me after I looked at the photograph, of course.

  2. I was going to suggest that the young Moorhen looked like a ballerina working on its arabesque.

  3. Nice photo and comparison.
    I found some more solitary wasps the other days and a bee that was lucky to survive from them.

    Also here are some grasshopper photos if you are interested.

    1. Thanks, will look these up. By the way, you can put live links in comments with the usual A HREF command.

  4. Ah I wonder what happened to the Tufted duckling? Not seen them out and about for ages....

    1. Haven't seen it since I last published a picture -- and of course I've been looking for it.