Tuesday 31 October 2017

A Grey Wagtail on one of the rafts at the east end of the Serpentine reached casually into the leaves and turned round with an insect in its beak.

A Wren was scolding noisily and hopping around in a tree near the bridge.

Carrion Crows use this rattling call as a signal to mob a predator such as a hawk. But I couldn't see a predator overhead, and no other crow seemed to respond to the call.

But this crow was looking around nervously, so it must have reacted to the rattling call.

Today's search for the Firecrest produced calls from two of them on the west side of the nursery, about 100 yards up from the southwest corner. But still the only birds that came into view were Goldcrests.

The remaining fruit on the rowan trees on Buck Hill attracted several Blackbirds ...

... and a single Mistle Thrush.

A Jay came down to take a peanut from my fingers. This is not a good video, as I am still working to get the subject right. But the slow motion does show that when a Jay takes the nut, it uses its beak to take it and not its feet.

Black-Headed Gulls seem to use this display both for courtship and for rivalry. In this case it must have been rivalry, as one ended up attacking the other.

A pair of Egyptian Geese at the Dell chased another pair, separating them. One took refuge behind the railings ...

... while the victors displayed, quacking and panting loudly.

A Greylag at the Dell restaurant won a whole bread roll and hurried off to eat it away from the gulls.

The Black Swan came onshore at the Vista, something he can do quite easily but is a real effort for the bigger and clumsier resident pair of Mute Swans, who chose to stay put and stare at him enviously as he enjoyed his treat of birdseed.

A Great Crested Grebe flew down the Serpentine.

Monday 30 October 2017

The second pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull was in the first gull's territory near the Dell restaurant.

There were the remains of two Feral Pigeons on the shore, the other one being finished by a Carrion Crow.

Surprisingly, there was no evidence of a fight having broken out. This was probably because the number one gull was lying on the restaurant roof digesting a large meal, and couldn't be bothered to exert himself.

The three young Great Crested Grebes were on the Serpentine, all fishing for themselves although one of their parents was nearby.

This is a testing time for young grebes, as they are not yet good at fishing but have to catch enough to survive.

The Black Swan was fast asleep on the Serpentine.

A Cormorant was looking its shining best on a post on the Long Water.

Mute Swans and Canada Geese were bickering over a bit of French bread.

Today's search for the Firecrest produced nothng except five Goldcrests, which came out in response to me playing Firecrest calls.

I think the Firecrest has moved from the west side of the nursery where it was yesterday and the day before. It was originally spotted near the Magazine, a hundred yards away.

A Blue Tit was looking very fine in the sunshine.

A Starling was looking absolutely fabulous.

The very nervous Robin in the Rose Garden is becoming more confident, bribed with pine nuts.

A Jay near the bridge was hoping for a peanut.

A Pied Wagtail hunted insects on the slate roof of one of the small boathouses.

The rowan trees on Buck Hill have been almost stripped of fruit, though there are a few bunches left on the lower branches of one tree. There was enough to interest a Mistle Thrush.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was in the same horse chestnut tree as his mate was yesterday, over by the Queen's Temple. He looked out of a comfortable hole, which would serve as a nest site if the Magpies get too much more them in their original sweet chestnut.

The female was in the original tree, preening.

Sunday 29 October 2017

A Jay dug up a buried hazelnut on Buck Hill.

Some of the Jays in the park will fly down and seize a peanut neatly from your fingers. It's all over in a flash -- I must try filming this in slow motion.

A pair of Carrion Crows enjoyed swinging on the weathervane on the Lido restaurant.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet looked out of a hole in one of the plane trees near the boathouses. This has long been a Starlings' nest hole -- I hope the parakeets don't take it over.

Several Blackbirds were eating fruit in the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was in her usual chestnut tree.

Egyptian Geese, a Grey Heron, a Moorhen and a Wood Pigeon were enjoying the seclusion of the Dell, which was fenced off as a bird sanctuary in 1922.

A Moorhen knocked a Black-Headed Gull off a post. The gull knocked off another gull.

A Black-Headed Gull turned downwind and was ruffled.

A Great Crested Grebe had been preening, and stood up to flap it wings. They aren't quite as small as this picture suggests, since they were angled back.

A pair of Shovellers were doing their head-bobbing courtship display, inappropriately at the end of October.

The Mallard drakes in the lake come in six colour schemes: black and white, very dark with an unusually shiny iridescent green head, normal, pale with a rather dull iridescent head as here, almost white with a completely dull brown head, and pure white.

A day wouldn't be complete without the Black Swan coming over for his treat of birdseed.

Yesterday a Firecrest was reported on the London Bird Club Wiki, on the west side of the so-called Bird Sanctuary -- that is, the enclosure with the nursery greenhouses in it. I went there today and heard it calling, but couldn't see it in the thick bushes.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Both Little Owls at the leaf yard could be seen today. The female was in a horse chestnut tree 20 yards west of the one where the male often perches. I only found her because she was calling.

The male was in the nest tree, a welcome sight as we haven't seen much of him lately.

Tom found and photographed a Song Thrush in the same tree yesterday. These beautiful and melodious birds have become really rare in the park, largely because of destruction of their habitat by blowing leaves out of the shrubberies.

There were a couple of Mistle Thrushes in trees near the rowans on Buck Hill, but I couldn't get a picture of them. However, there were several Blackbirds eating rowan berries. One stared suspiciously, but held her ground.

A Great Tit also gave me a piercing stare, but in this case because he wanted me to stop photographing and give him a pine nut.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had breakfasted at the Lido restaurant, and left the remains for the crows ...

... while he went to pick up some lunch.

A Crow was going through the rubbish in a bin beside the Serpentine. The technique is to turn a bag upside down and shake out the contents ...

... which can then be examined one by one.

A flock of Starlings were prospecting for wireworms in the Diana fountain enclosure. The large area of grass is free from dogs, and people usually keep to the paths around the watercourse. so it's a peaceful hunting ground.

A young Mute Swan and and adult were washing on the Serpentine.

The Black Swan was on the shore at the Vista, fending off pigeons from some birdseed I had given him. He thought he was far enough from the edge to avoid being bitten by the resident Mute Swans, but he was wrong.

There was just one pair of Gadwalls on the Serpentine, in contrast to fourteen pairs in St James's Park. I've never seen more than eight pairs here.

Friday 27 October 2017

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet ate yellow berries in a tree by the bridge.

Just down the path, Charlie and Melissa the Carrion Crows waited on twin tree stumps for their treat of peanuts.

Some horrible person has stolen the feeder near the fountain in the Rose Garden for at least the third time. One of the local Dunnock pair had moved to another feeder so far not yet found by the thief, and was picking up spilt birdseed on the ground underneath.

The Little Owl was enjoying the sunshine on her favourite branch.

A hoverfly was also basking on a dandelion. I think it's Syrphus ribesii, which doesn't have an English name. It's male, as you can tell from its closely spaced eyes.

A rat was digging in the Dell. Perhaps it was trying to unearth a nut buried by a Jay.

A Shoveller drake preened at the Vista, showing off his iridescent green feathers.

The Black Swan was also preening at the east end of the Serpentine.

Then a visit to St James's Park to try to see a Kingfisher, which we did but only for a moment as it flashed past, with no chance of a photograph.

There are three Black Swans on the lake there.

This is one of the Bar-Headed Geese that often visit us, usually at the east end of the Serpentine or on the Round Pond.

This Greylag Goose with white patches and blue eyes may be another Greylag--domestic cross. It is on the small side for a Greylag, unlike the huge bird in Hyde Park, but both have blue eyes.

There were 16 Gadwall pairs, far more than we ever get. They have been given breeding boxes in the garden of Buckingham Palace, only 100 yards away.

The St James's Park Coots are still occupying well maintained nests ...

... and bringing twigs to build them up. This park is where Coots were deliberately introduced to central London in the 1920s by putting eggs in Moorhen nests. Since then they have bred massively and far outnumber Moorhens.

St James's Park also has plenty of Little Grebes. The lake is regularly stocked with small fish for the White Pelicans, which attracts them, and also Kingfishers.

It's impossible to go to St James's Park without taking a picture of the famous view northeast from the bridge, with the plain classical front of the Horse Guards, the domes of the old War Office building, and the spires of the National Liberal Club.