Sunday 23 December 2018

The Great Crested Grebe that is stranded in the stream in the Dell was busy fishing. It seems to be finding food, possibly small invertebrates rather than fish.

This dark Mallard drake doesn't associate with the inseparable dark Mallard brothers, and is probably not related to them. But, like them, he doesn't have a mate. Perhaps female Mallards are prejudiced against dark drakes. The white Mallard, a much odder bird, does have a mate.

All the usual duck species were present today: Gadwall ...

... Shoveller ...

... Tufted Duck ...

... Pochard ...

... and Red-Crested Pochard.

Red-Crested Pochards, though orginally park escapes, are now included on the list of British birds as they have established a stable breeding population.

The number of Cormorants using the raft as a fishing station is now up to five.

A Herring Gull called continuously as others followed it across the lake. The young gull immediately behind it made the upward nod of assent that mates make to each other, but I don't think these two are mates. I can't figure out what kind of social interaction is going on here.

Both the Peregrines were on the barracks tower, preched too far apart to get them into one shot.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore statue came out of her hole briefly.

The owl near the Queen's Temple was also visible.

A Blackbird ate fruit in the rowan tree on Buck Hill.

A Redwing also made a brief foray into the tree.

The Blackbird at the bottom of the hill now comes out every time I pass and waits to be given some sultanas. Bribery will get you everywhere with these normally shy birds.

Long-Tailed Tits jumped around in a nearby tree. It's a Winged Elm (Ulmus alata), whose peculiar ridged bark harbours insects.

Something had upset the birds in the leaf yard, and they were all nervous. The Nuthatch was hesitant about coming to my hand, though it eventually came down twice. And it was very difficult to entice the timid Coal Tit down to the railings to take a pine nut.

A Robin in the Rose Garden had to raise its voice to be heard over the din of the funfair a few yards away -- the directional microphone on the camera has muted the extraneous noise to some extent. Urban Robins are known to sing louder than rural ones.


  1. Hi Ralph, I was looking for the little owl by Queens temple today around midday but couldn't seem to find it. I will try again tomorrow morning

    1. It pops in and out more or less at random, but the best time is when it's getting dark and the park is about to shut.

    2. Ok I'll try about 4ish. Is it in the tree right next to the temple?

    3. See the blog post for 6 December, which has a map.

  2. Great to see that the grebe appears to be having plenty to eat. The Grebe might be quoting to the fish "I am not locked in here with you, you all are locked in here with me".

    Poor Robin. Won't someone stop that awful noise and just let it sing? Nothing could be more beautiful and uplifting.

    1. I really hope Hugh Smith will have some cunning plan to rescue the grebe. It should be all right for a few days, but the stream is far too small for it in the long term. Such brilliant birds in the water, but hopeless in the air and worse on the ground.