Monday 31 December 2018

There are more premature signs of spring. A Great Tit was singing, and another perched on some hazel catkins near the leaf yard.

A Goldcrest was also singing in the Dell.

A Cormorant on the Long Water was getting the white patches and white-speckled head of its breeding plumage.

There is still a little fallen fruit under the rowan tree on Buck Hill, and a Redwing got two berries at once.

But mostly it was back to the usual diet of worms (as Martin Luther said, 'So help me God, I can take no other course').

A Blackbird found a worm in the Rose Garden. You can hear the noise of the Winter Wasteland in the background, which fortunately will be closing soon.

This Blackbird was waiting under the feeder in the Rose Garden for its daily present of sultanas.

The Wren that I videoed yesterday was in exactly the same place, still picking up invisible tiny creatures.

You seldom see what Long-Tailed Tits are catching either.

A Blue Tit had found a substantial larva.

A Coal Tit waited for a turn on the feeder.

A Carrion Crow posed regally on the crown above the relief of Queen Victoria in the Italian Garden.

The Little Owl at the Queen's Temple was sulking at the bottom of her hole, and wouldn't come out for a better picture.

A Wood Pigeon bathed at the top of the waterfall in the Dell. It's a popular bathing place for many birds. They seem to like the feeling of the fast flowing water.

A Tufted Duck preened beside the Serpentine.

The small aluminium plate marking the deodar in the Dell is covered with scratches. This is because a squirrel is sharpening its teeth on it.

May all readers have a very happy and successful New Year.

Sunday 30 December 2018

This pair of Egyptian Geese has been hanging around in the Dell for several days, and displaying on a treetop. It was clear that they were planning to breed, with their usual cluelessness about the unsuitability of the season. Now they are going ahead.

The little flotilla of Red-Crested Pochards was still cruising around at the island.

A pair of Gadwalls fed at the edge of the Serpentine.

The hybrid goose that is three quarters Bar-Headed and one quarter Greylag visited again from St James's Park.

A Grey Heron standing on the swan island in the Long Water caught a very small fish.

On of the pair of herons in the lowest nest on the island was poking around in the bottom of the nest. It's possible that the female has started laying eggs. They will have to be very, very lucky with the weather to succeed in this attempt.

There is no more fruit on the last rowan tree on Buck Hill, but still some on the ground for Redwings and other fruit eaters to collect.

A pair of Chaffinches picked up spilt birdseed under the feeder in the Rose Garden.

While I was standing very still to video the Chaffinches, a Wren forgot I was there and started hopping around near me. I couldn't see what tiny creatures it seemed to be finding on the bare ground.

A pair of Mistle Thrushes in the Dell flew around rattling furiously and looking ruffled. They were protesting about two Magpies in the trees above them.

A flight of Long-Tailed Tits went through the Dell.

A Robin on a bramble beside the Long Water stared at the camera.

So did a Jackdaw, with that imperious look that means 'Give me a peanut.'

A Great Tit was also expecting to be fed, and was fed of course.

But it is still very difficult to get the shy Coal Tit in the leaf yard to come down to take food from the railings.

The female Little Owl at the Queen's Temple was chased into her hole by a single furious Blackbird. It took her some time to emerge bit by bit.

When I went past later in the hope of a better picture she had gone in again.

There were some pretty little orange-brown mushrooms in the grass nearby, with caps about an inch across. As usual, I couldn't find out what they were.

Update: Mario thinks that they may be The Deceiver. What picturesque names fungi have.

Saturday 29 December 2018

The last of the fruit on the rowan tree on Buck Hill was being polished off by two Redwings ...

... and a small group of Blackbirds.

Most of the Blackbirds were on the ground eating fallen fruit.

You can see the five-pointed indentation in the bottom of the fruit which shows that it is not a berry but a fruit like a little apple or rosehip, with five seeds.

A Green Woodpecker called from a plane tree on the path between the Albert Memorial and the Physical Energy statue. A few seconds later a woodpecker flew into the top of a tree, and I rushed round the tree trying to photograph the elusive bird, getting just one pretty bad picture. But surprisingly it turned out to be of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I never saw the Green Woodpecker at all.

A Feral Pigeon pecked vigorously at half a sausage left over from someone's breakfast at the Dell restaurant, knocking over bottles in its enthusiasm.

The female Little Owl near the Queen's Temple emerged from her hole in the afternoon.

Cormorants fished over the submerged wire baskets filled with twigs that were put under the bridge to act as a fish hatchery. These are a breeding ground for perch, but the perch seem to have grown up and moved out, and the fish I have seen Cormorants catching recently are probably small roach.

Another Cormorant caught one under the parapet of the Italian Garden. It was getting a fish every minute, all of them about this size.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes is now hanging around under the collapsed willow tree next to the bridge, whose yellow twigs you can see in this picture. They have started building a nest once, though they abandoned it. I do hope they don't nest seriously, as there are certainly not enough very small fish to feed the chicks at this time of year.

A little group of Red-Crested Pochards has arrived on the Serpentine. They only visit occasionally, flying in from Regent's Park or St James's Park where they are more numerous.

A single Red-Crested Pochard drake preened in a fountain in the Italian Garden. A female Mallard seemed to admire his showy plumage, but he wasn't interested in her.

The pair of Grey Herons were together in the lower nest on the island, the only one that is easy to see.

There was also a pair on the fourth nest on the other side of the island, which can only be seen through obstructing twigs. This is a view from the far side of the lake.

There was one heron in each of the other two nests.

I'm including these two pictures because someone commenting on the video about the pigeon-killing gull on my YouTube channel expressed surprise that the gull doesn't use its feet to grasp the pigeon when eating it. Gulls' feet are small and not strong, good enough for running or swimming but really no use at all for holding things. Their webbed toes don't clench tightly, and the hind toe, essential for a good grip, is much reduced and doesn't touch the ground when it stands.

This second-winter Herring Gull has chosen to sit on the joint of the rail of the Lido jetty because it's more comfortable for its flat feet than the more sharply curved railing.

And this young Black-Headed Gull stands lengthwise on a chain at the bridge, where a bird with perching or gripping feet would have stood sideways on.

Friday 28 December 2018

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull stalked along the edge of the Serpentine, eyeing a bathing Feral Pigeon.

He saw his opportunity and pounced.

There are Grey Herons all over the place, including eight attending to the four nests on the island and these two on the electric boats moored next to it.

Another walked carefully over the stones in the lower waterfall in the Dell, looking for lurking fish.

A Cormorant fishing in the Long Water near the Italian Garden came up with just a disappointing beakful of leaves.

A pair of Egyptian Geese which had been displaying on a tree top in the Dell came down to the stream for a wash and preen.

A pair of Red Crested Pochards cruised past the island.

I heard a Little Grebe calling on the Long Water, near the bank on the same side as me so that it was impossible to see. So I rushed to the Italian Garden and managed to snatch a distant shot of it heading away.

The female Little Owl at the Queen's Temple was chased into her hole by Magpies. A few minutes later she looked suspiciously out from the bottom of the hole to see if they had gone. I had to take this picture from too far away, because of the awkward angle.

David Element found her on the edge of the hole, which allows you to get closer and look up to her, and took this fine picture.

The Carrion Crow that I filmed yesterday rooting in a planter in the Italian Garden was at it again today, in the same planter. It leaves the other ones completely alone. Conehead54 thinks it's digging up vine weevils.

The crows at the Lido restaurant know that the green and gold foil packets contain delicious butter, and make a beeline for them as soon as a table is vacated.

In the rowan tree on Buck Hill, there are still a few bunches of fruit in hard-to-reach places on the tips of twigs. A Blackbird had been attending to one, and flew away with a last fruit in its beak.

This female Chaffinch in the leaf yard occasionally comes out to the front. I haven't got her interested in taking food yet, but Chaffinches will come to your hand if you are patient with them.

A small group of Long-Tailed Tits were moving around the feeders in the Dell.

A Goldcrest appeared for a moment in a tree at the top of the Dell.