Tuesday 24 September 2019

A day of heavy rain interspersed with brief sunny spells. The teenage Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water ignored the downpour.

The Mallard drakes are now back in their fine breeding plumage ...

... and the Tufted drakes have nearly regrown their shining white sides.

The hopeless female Egyptian Goose who has never managed to raise goslings has now recovered her flight feathers, and was with her mate on the edge of the Italian Garden.

The large flock of Pochards had come out from their usual place under the trees on the east side of the Long Water.

A group of Red-Crested Pochards were also back in breeding plumage. It had just stopped raining after a heavy shower, and you can hear Blackbirds chattering excitedly at the prospect of finding worms in the wet soil.

The rain had flooded the path running around the Dell, and a female Blackbird was happily digging in the saturated grass. She saw me and came out to be given some sultanas.

Several more were eating rowan fruit on Buck Hill ...

... accompanied by a couple of Mistle Thrushes, though most of these were out on the grass.

A flock of House Martins passed over Buck Hill. They soon left on their way to Africa.

I didn't see the Spotted Flycatchers. They may have gone too. There was a brief moment of excitement when I saw two small brownish birds fly into a treetop near the bridge, but the photograph -- taken in very dim light -- shows that they were Chiffchaffs.

The holly tree on the other side of the path is laden with berries. A Great Tit waited to be fed.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was on the prowl in his usual place near the Dell restaurant. In this picture he hungrily eyes a Feral Pigeon from less than two feet away, but both the gull and the pigeon know that this is not within grabbing range. The pigeon can rocket into the air before the lunging gull gets near it. It's only when pigeons stop being alert that they get caught.

Wasps are very fond of ivy flowers, and a big patch at the back of the Lido had attracted them.

A fine close-up shot of a Common Wasp by David Element. Males are distinguished by their long antennae.


  1. Any idea why male wasps need longer antennae? Curious.

    1. Maybe to smell the queen from a distance?

    2. I went on a course about bees and that was stated as the reason why male honey bees have long antennae.

  2. A good number of Pochard there, Ralph. I had quite a good count when I went to Ruislip Lido last Friday. Such an attractive duck, as are the Red-crested Pochard.

    Yesterday when I left work + walking along the river at Barnes I saw a Lesser Black-back pull something from the water. I then realised it was still alive + was a juvenile Feral Pigeon. The gull just battered away at it starting to eat it while the pigeon put up its last weak resistance. A few 1st-winter Herring Gulls stood close by + a Great Black-back flew in.

    1. Haven't seen a Great Black-Back here for some time. They used to be quite frequent visitors.

  3. Do we then have a second pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Back in the park? It would be out of character for other gulls not to pick up such an useful technique.

    Poor pigeon, though. Gulls are brutal, and their brutality is only limited by their size.

    1. No, just one here. Others have tried, but it's on the limit of their ability and they haven't succeeded yet. There is another pigeon killer in St James's Park, and possibly another on the Regent's Canal though this may be ours on tour.