Saturday 30 September 2017

A Goldcrest looked out of a yew tree near Peter Pan.

A Chiffchaff was flying around with a flock ...

... of Long-Tailed Tits.

These flocks are often accompanied by other kinds of tit, especially Blue Tits, and also by small warblers such as Goldcrests. This is the first time I've noticed a Chiffcahff with a flock, but probably it happens often enough.

This Blackbird in a rowan tree on Buck Hill is a first-year male, already with black plumage but still to develop his yellow bill and eye ring.

A Starling at the Dell restaurant jealously guarded the bit of pizza crust it had taken from a table.

Jays are not much seen at the moment because they are busy collecting acorns and nuts and burying them for winter storage. When this one had finished its task, it happily came over to take a peanut, which it ate on the spot. Probably peanuts don't keep, and may germinate quickly if buried, though I have never seen a peanut plant growing in the park.

The second pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull is now fully up to speed and claiming a pigeon daily. This clip was shot in its usual place on the shore below the Triangle car park.

After the gull had eaten its fill, a Carrion Crow came to finish off the last scraps.

Two Young Herring Gulls had found conkers and were playing with them, while a third looked on enviously.

(For the benefit of overseas readers, I should explain that 'conker' is the common British name for a horse chestnut seed.)

A Great Crested Grebe struck a heraldic pose while preening.

The Black Swan had a glint in his fine red eye when he saw someone about to feed him.

He was left alone by the local bullying Mute Swan, who was busy beating up one of his own species.

Feeding the Rose-Ringed Parakeets at the leaf yard is now so popular that it attracts visitors from other eras.

Today's blog will be a bit late because of computer breakdown.

Friday 29 September 2017

A Peregrine was on the Household Cavalry barracks tower again today. It looks as if the pair have settled on this place as a day roost, and they might even consider breeding here among the mass of antennae and electronic gizmos on top of the tower.

Wind around the tower creates a strong updraught, in which a bunch of Carrion Crows were playing.

There are a few hundred Starlings in the park, not enough for an impressive murmuration display but a reasonable mob nevertheless. Here are some videos of them.

They collect in a tree beside the Serpentine for a sociable chatter.

They gather on the roof of the Lido restaurant to watch for leftovers on a table on the terrace.

Their communal bath is interrupted by a Mute Swan in a bad mood.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused under the shady trees across the path from the leaf yard.

There was no sign of the Little Owl, probably sulking in her hole because a Magpie was insolently perched on her favourite branch.

But I did hear her mate calling from his horse chestnut tree, where he is invisible among the leaves.

At least 20 Mistle Thrushes flew rattling to Buck Hill for a raid on the rowan trees.

The second pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull was in his usual place below the Triangle car park, standing well back from the edge and alternately preening and watching for a Feral Pigeon to alight in a suitable place.

A Cormorant preened on the fallen horse chestnut in the Long Water.

A male Tufted Duck attended to the newly regrown white feathers of his breeding plumage.

There are still only three Shovellers on the Long Water. More should arrive soon.

The Black Swan saw me coming from a long way off and cruised over to get his daily treat of birdseed.

The young Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine are now large enough to fish cooperatively with their parents in a completely adult way.

Young Moorhens grow up very fast. This one was a newly hatched chick eight weeks ago, and is now an almost fully grown brown teenager.

Thursday 28 September 2017

The Mute Swans on the Round Pond find the water inlet fascinating. They don't just drink the water, they also for some reason like biting the stainless steel nozzle.

On the Serpentine, the Black Swan had been eating algae, but came over quickly for his daily ration of birdseed.

One of the Long Water Great Crested Grebe chicks got a fish.

(Couldn't help being reminded of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, although the painter omits the fish.)

The Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant is gaining confidence. Here it is prowling up the edge of the terrace looking for scraps. Soon it will be leaping on to tables and snatching food of people's plates like its notorious predecessor.

After the recent sudden arrival of a flock of Chiffchaffs, they have spread out over the park. This one was on a hawthorn bush near the Queen's Temple.

Robins are everywhere. This is the bird who owns the olive tree next to the Lido restaurant ...

... and another struck a dramatic pose at the top of a young oak tree near the leaf yard.

Under the tree there was a carpet of sunbathing Feral Pigeons.

The Mistle Thrushes eating fruit in the rowan trees on Buck Hill ...

... were joined by a flock of Starlings ...

... and a couple of Magpies.

The local Blackbirds were under the trees looking for worms. This young male has grown most of his black adult plumage. He won't get a yellow bill till next year.

The Little Owl near the leaf yard was preening and scratching in her usual chestnut tree.

The young people in hi-vis jackets who work with the shire horses on Buck Hill are bankers and other corporate people being given an experience of real work. Here they are arriving, forking hay on to a cart, and going back just two hours later absolutely exhausted.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

A Little Grebe had flown up to the Round Pond to fish. Virginia sent me some excellent pictures of it standing on the solar panel platform ...

... and admiring its reflection.

She said it wasn't catching much, but it had been on the Round Pond for two days in preference to the Long Water, where there are lots of fish and we see the Great Crested Grebes feeding them to their chicks. If a fish is too large for a Little Grebe to swallow, it shakes the fish to pieces and then eats it.

One of the Little Grebe chicks from the Long Water dived. This picture was taken straight down from the bridge parapet.

The Black Swan was on the Serpentine, calling in his musical voice.

A Gadwall drake looked very smart in his understated way.

In the enclosure of the Diana fountain, a Herring Gull pattered its feet to simulate the sound of rain, and thus bring up worms. Herring Gulls and Common Gulls do this dance, but I've never seen a Lesser Black-Backed Gull doing it, in spite of their often being in the same place as a dancing Herring Gull. This clip was shot at a distance over the fence. It's remarkable that at the end of September it was warm enough to create a heat haze.

A Peregrine was on the Household Cavalry barracks again, for the whole time I was in the park.

There were several Pied Wagtails hunting for insects on a patch of dead grass killed by having a concert stage on it for a couple of weeks. The surface is easier for the birds to run on than live grass, and the number of insects seems to be unaffected.

A Carrion Crow took possession of the Lido restaurant weathervane, evicting the Starlings that usually perch on it.

Several Mistle Thrushes flew into the rowan trees on Buck Hill to eat the fruit.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was looking out of her hole, ready to dart in at a moment's notice ...

... as there were Magpies banging around in her tree.

Another picture from Virginia, and a remarkable one. An eastern European girl had brought four painted pigeons into the park in a pet carrier box, and was showing them off on the bridge, gathering quite a crowd. She travels around Europe with the birds.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

There was a Peregrine on the tower of the Household Cavalry Barracks, seen here for the first time since we spotted two here on 6 September.

There were several Chiffchaffs in the Rose Garden. Two of them sang during a sunny spell.

The female Little Owl was also enjoying the sunshine in her usual chestnut tree.

I could only find one Mistle Thrush in the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

A Robin in the Rose Garden defended his tree. There is a feeder in this tree which he visits, though he has difficulty hanging on to the perch, which was designed for the strong grasping feet of tits.

A Carrion Crow had a wash in the Serpentine and flew into a tree to dry and preen.

The second Lesser Black-Backed Gull is definitely killing Feral Pigeons. I passed it while it was walking through a crowd of them, not exhibiting the obvious hunting behaviour of the well known Lesser Black-Back, but clearly searching. When I went by again after a couple of hours, it had a pigeon and had eaten about half of it. At this time the other gull was busy hunting at the far end of the lake, so this was not a pigeon that had been stolen from it.

Here is a portrait shot of the gull, showing the distinctive pale greyish feet and marking on the bill.

This is the well known Lesser Black-Backed Gull, in his usual place at the east end of the Serpentine, spotting a group of Feral Pigeons washing and coming ashore to try to get one. He was unsuccessful. The point of this unremarkable clip is to show that he was busy while the second Lesser Black-Back had a pigeon, so that the second gull could not have stolen a freshly killed pigeon from him. This shows that the second gull is certainly killing pigeons for itself.

The new Great Crested Grebe family from the Long Water were on the Serpentine again, and one of the parents brought a fish to a chick.

But another chick seemed to have caught a fish by itself, as it was a considerable distance from either of it parents.

And this one was certaintly starting to try to feed itself. It was probing at the edge of the Serpentine, probably looking for snails in the algae.

Some Mute Swans charged down the Serpentine and hauled themselves into the air.

The Black Swan was taking it easy.

The colour of the feet of Greylag Geese is variable, mostly shades of pink or pinking orange. But this bright orange is unusual.