Monday 19 September 2016

The explosive song of a Cetti's Warbler could be heard in three widely separated places: at the top end of the Long Water, in the reed bed next to the bridge, and in the reed bed at the outflow of the Serpentine. They are mobile birds, but I was walking briskly from one end of the lake to the other, and I really think there are three males, plus an unknown number of females, whose quieter call I didn't hear today. Naturally I didn't get a picture. They make sure they are in cover before they sing, and are very hard indeed to photograph.

But as I stared at the Serpentine reed bed, a Robin stared back from a head of reedmace.

As autumn sets in and the supply of insects falls, small birds are becoming noticeably hungrier. Plenty of Great Tits came out of the leaf yard to be fed.

The Mistle Thrushes still have plenty of berries in the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

They are spending most of their time on the east side of the road, in Hyde Park -- not sure what the attraction is here.

There were half a dozen Blackbirds eating berries in the yew tree near the bridge.

Another had found a worm in the leaf litter near the Italian Garden.

A Jackdaw seemed to be ripping the hinge of a nest box to pieces. You might think it was trying to get in and devour the inhabitants, but probably it was looking for insects in the decaying roofing felt.

Probably very few of the nest boxes in the park are used now. The old gardener who made and maintained them has retired, and no one has taken over the work. Nest boxes need emptying after use evey year, and they are now full of detritus. This is a shame, because Great Tits and Blue Tits like nesting in boxes, which are safer and cosier than their natural nests in cracks in trees.

There were quite a few Red Crested Pochards on the lake. Some of the drakes are beginning to regrow the bouffant ginger headdress of their breeding plumage.

A Mute Swan was preening on the Serpentine.

It's quite a job, as they have about 20,000 feathers (though the record, at over 25,000, is held by the smaller Bewick's Swan, of which there are some in the captive collection at Regent's Park).

Two Coots were fighting, as usual. No one ever seems to win these fights. They just kick each other and try to pull their opponent under water, and then give up and circle each other with their wings raised in threat. Perhaps points are awarded for style.

The male Little Owl was in the usual chestnut tree, looking suavely elegant ...

... but less so when I passed by later and he was throwing up a pellet. All owls do this to get rid of the indigestible parts of their prey, such as mouse bones. But Little Owls live mainly on worms and insects, and their pellets contain things such as the hard wing cases of beetles.

The female owl was sitting inscrutably in the next tree, not bothering to look round.

She can't see me from this angle. Owls have eyes like telescopes, with a rather narrow field of vision. Their eyes are tubular, not spherical, and are fixed in their skull, so that to see something at the side they have to swivel their neck.


  1. There are three trees of small ornamental apples just across in Hyde Park, quite near the road - they were full of parakeets last autumn. Perhaps the mistle thrushes might also be interested?

    1. Perhaps. They're crabapples and very sour, even when ripe. Parakeets don't seem to mind that, and I've seen them eating very underripe and sour fruits. Mistle Thrushes seem to like sweet things, and particularly berries that have been frosted, which concentrates the sugar.

  2. For the humans: Crabapples are very good when cooked- they have a sort of concentrated apple-ness about them.

  3. (I mean crabapple jelly; no idea how apple sauce or similar would be like)

    1. You need an awful lot of sugar, though.

    2. no more than usual, I seem to remember - it's been a few years, mind.