Thursday 13 December 2018

Most of the action today was at the leaf yard and the Vista, which is only a few yards away. I was there with David Element and Tom. When the usual female Kestrel passed over they both got photographs of it, and it's interesting to see the differences between the two, and how the angle of the light alters the colour of the bird. This is Tom's picture ...

... and this is David's.

Beside the leaf yard, Rose-Ringed Parakeets vied for a tennis ball, especially attractive to them because it's almost the same colour as themselves.

A squirrel had stolen an apple that someone put out for the parakeets, but another squirrel wanted it.

A remarkable slow-motion video by Tom of me feeding a Jay.

When they have their peanut, they retire to a secluded twig to open it.

A Jackdaw was also expecting to be fed. Although they are getting much bolder, they can still only be fed by putting a peanut on the ground.

The usual Great Tits ...

... and Blue Tits came out of the bushes ...

... and a small flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees.

Earlier, Tom had got a picture of a female Blackcap west of the leaf yard. A few Blackcaps from the European mainland overwinter in the park.

A Cormorant came down on the water.

David got a fine picture of a pair of Mute Swans taking off together.

Tom neatly captured a male Sparrowhawk whizzing past on the far side of the lake.

David stayed after we had both been driven home by the cold, and got a splendid view of the Little Owl near the Queen's Temple, which had come out on a branch.

Elsewhere, it was a quiet day. A Carrion Crow rooted up a bit of freshly laid turf in the Diana fountain enclosure and examined it for worms and insects.

A Black-Headed Gull on the Serpentine played drop-catch with a bit of bark and a twig.

A Grey Heron melted into the reeds almost as well as a Bittern can.

A Great Crested Grebe looked quietly elegant in winter plumage.

The young Mute Swan which regularly visits one of the fountain pools in the Italian Garden looked trapped and desperate to get out. But it can get out, and often has, only to return. Is it angling for sympathy so that people will feed it?


  1. I nearly called the wildlife officer for that swan once, thinking it couldn't get out!
    The way they bicker about it, perhaps the parakeets think the tennis ball must be an enormous nut (or egg?) they haven't cracked open yet? Even if the outside tastes funny.

    1. I'm far from sure, but I thought the ball was simply a toy. Gulls play with tennis balls, which happen to be the largest thing a Herring Gull can pick up in its beak.

  2. Blackcaps seen in UK in winter generally will have migrated from central Europe. See here and here. And always a pleasure to tune in. Jim

  3. I am really puzzled about that swan. Are swans capable of such foresight as to use a ruse?

    Ralph looks like a falconer in that wonderful little video. I can almost feel the cold across the screen though.

    1. It may have been just a swan mood, des fiers Domitius l'humeur triste et sauvage.