Thursday 27 December 2018

It was a day of mist and hazy sunlight. You wouldn't think this picture of the Italian Garden fountains was taken at 11.30 am.

To the despair of the park gardeners, all kinds of creatures dig up the bulbs they have carefully planted -- squirrels, rats, and in this case a Carrion Crow which was making a really thorough job of wrecking a planter in the Italian Garden.

There is still perhaps two days' supply of fruit on the rowan tree on Buck Hill, perhaps less if the Blackbirds have a serious go at it. A Redwing made the most of what was left.

The female Little Owl at the Queen's Temple looked down from her hole.

Her mate was also on the treee, but was frightened by a crow and fled into the hole before I could get into position for a photograph. One of the owls on Buck Hill was also visible, twice but only for seconds at at time, vanishing into the hole while I was still a long way off.

In the leaf yard, only the female Nuthatch of the pair appeared. She is the one that I can't tempt to come to my hand, no matter how I try. I put down some pine nuts for her on the railings.

There is a fourth Grey Heron nest on the island, on the south side and hard to see from the north shore. But a few days of cold weather will finish off all these premature attempts.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were building a nest in the fallen willow tree next to the bridge. Probably they're not serious about nesting -- they often play around for months before they get going properly.

There is a new pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the lake. This is the smaller of the two, presumably the female, finishing off one of the pigeon-eater's kills. They are both of the darker intermedius morph, with almost black backs. She has a distinctive irregular dark bar across the yellow iris of her eye.

The other stayed farther out in the lake, but he too seems to have unusual eyes of a dusky colour. It seems likely that the darker variety of Lesser Black-Backs is more prone to having dark eyes.

This Black-Headed Gull now developing its dark head is a longstanding winter visitor to the park. The ring is numbered EX63683, and it was put on by Roy Sanderson here a decade ago.

Two Black-Headed Gulls paid a little attention to a lemon before deciding it wasn't good to eat.

A Moorhen gave it one look and walked off. It's alway interesting to discover something that a Moorhen won't eat.

A pair of Egyptian Geese stood on a weeping beech in the Dell and performed their noisy display. The female makes most of the racket with her honking call. The male makes a hoarse panting noise.

Of all the drakes on the lake the Gadwall is the least showy, a model of sober elegance.


  1. I wonder why it is that Mallard ducks also make the louder calls than the drakes. You would think they would have at least equal need for loud alarm calls. Jim

    1. More to be alarmed about? Attacked on the nest by foxes and on the water by drakes.

    2. If attacked by drakes there's not much they can do if they don't already have a consort to fight them. Also a drake guarding a nesting or pregnant duck can achieve more by warning her to freeze or move early than vice versa. Jim

  2. Wow, that picture of the Italian Garden fountains! I nearly gasped at its beauty.

    I have no doubt that the Crow must have a beef with some of the gardeners. That bout of destruction looks personal.

    1. I've never seen a crow quite so bent on destruction.

  3. Hi Ralph, a couple of points. First graellsii is the palest of the forms of LBB Gull in the UK + is the race most often encountered + the one that breeds here. The much darker intermedius from further north is occasionally found in winter.

    Second point- I wonder whether that badly behaved Crow in your video is looking for Vine Weevil grubs which regularly eat the roots of Primulas + Cyclamen in containers. The health of those plants look as though they may be infected.

    Finally would like to wish you a Happy New Year + thanks for your wonderful daily diary which I always enjoy watching!

    1. Thanks. Got the names the wrong way round, because intermedius sounds as if it ought to mean the paler colour. Should have checked. Have changed text.

      Interesting about the vine weevils. The crow was only attacking one planter.