Thursday 31 October 2019

Looking for a Little Owl in the oak near the Albert Memorial this morning, all I could find was a pair of Stock Doves.

But at lunchtime the male owl came out and perched on a twig ...

... in the classic position of the Little Owl on an Athenian tetradrachm coin of 450 BC.

A Starling beside the Serpentine sang loudly for no reason except that it was a sunny day.

There's an ants' nest in the grassy bank at the back of the Dell restaurant. Starlings regularly comb the grass around it looking for straying ants.

Virginia sent an elegant picture taken yesterday of a Grey Wagtail preening on a rock at the top of the Dell waterfall ...

... and this fine shot of a male Chaffinch was taken near the bridge by Ahmet Amerikali.

The Jackdaws have really moved into the area around the Henry Moore sculpture. Seven of them came to be fed this morning.

A Herring Gull beside the Serpentine ate a mysterious object. It was under an oak tree, and I think it may be a deformed acorn caused by infestation with a gall wasp.

The Moorhens in the Dell and two of their chicks were feeding enthusiastically behind some plants  in the Dell, though I couldn't see what they had found.

The mystery was solved when a hand appeared behind a bush and tossed them some mealworms. It was the female gardener who looks after the Dell so devotedly, and who also maintains a couple of feeders for the small birds. I didn't know she also feeds the Moorhens.

Two Moorhens were having a fight at the island. They fight in the same way as Coots, but less often.

One of the three teenage grebes from the island was fishing with its mother, and no doubt picking up some useful tips on technique.

The Red-Crested Pochard with the Mallard mate was in the Italian Garden as usual, along with the spare Mallard drake who has attached himself to the pair.

When the pochard first got together with his mate, he fed in the normal style for his species, by diving. But I haven't seen him diving recently, and he seems to have taken up the habit of upending like his companions. If the algae are near enough the surface, this saves effort.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

It was probably a mistake to start feeding Carrion Crows, though it's hard to resist these charming, intelligent and funny birds. One at the Lido restaurant gave me a calculating look.

But this one just landed on my head and stayed there for a minute. One shouldn't reward such behaviour, but it got the peanut it wanted.

Humans are not their only victims. A Lesser Black-Backed Gull finishing off one of the pigeon eater's kills got its wing pulled.

Three Jays waited in a hundred-yard stretch beside the Long Water. They are all back now from their autumn task of burying acorns.

A Wood Pigeon ate holly berries.

The ubiquitous Rose-Ringed Parakeets are almost invisible among the green leaves of summer, but as the leaves turn brown they become more and more conspicuous, until in winter they are glaringly obvious. In their native India they can hide in green leaves all year round.

The man with the Hyacinth Macaws is clearly tired of people admiring his beautiful birds. When it's time to take then out for their morning airing he keeps to the less frequented parts of the park, and all you see of him is his back view as he hurries away.

Ahmet Amerikali found a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a tree just to the east of the Italian Garden.

Another of his pictures, a dramatic shot of one of the younger Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Long Water being fed.

With a whole lake to drink from, not just Moorhens but all birds prefer drinking rainwater from muddy puddles. I am not going to try drinking the lake water to see what puts them off it, but it all comes from a borehole in the London clay and is likely to have a harsh alkaline taste.

A young Cormorant, still with a pale front, dried its wings while the dominant Mute Swan from the Long Water patrolled the water in front of the bridge. He had just driven a bunch of swans off his territory and didn't want them going back.

The female Egyptian Goose of the hopelessly incompetent pair in the Italian Garden has grey wings like Blondie, though slightly darker. The pair must be at least twenty years old now and, as regular readers will know, in all their time in the park they have never managed to raise a single gosling.

The forty-odd Pochards on the Long Water lurk under the bushes on the east side where you can't get a good picture of them, but one drake came over to the Vista.

In a moderate breeze, Black-Headed Gulls can hang motionless while hoping to catch the food being thrown to them.

A Black-Headed Gull made a low pass over the head of a Herring Gull on a pedalo, surprising it and making it drop the cupcake wrapper it was holding.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

The yew tree near Peter Pan has a fine crop of berries, and several Blackbirds were taking advantage of it.

There were four Mistle Thrushes in the Dell, rattling at Magpies.

It looks as if the resident pair must have managed to breed after all. They lost three nests to Magpies, and I thought they'd given up. But evidently they managed to find a well hidden site and finally succeeded.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused for a moment among autumn leaves.

Birds tend not to like salad vegetables -- too watery, not enough energy. I've never seen a Starling eating a cucumber before. Other Starlings seemed keen on it too, but probably only because the first one had it.

Two Carrion Crows bathed in the Serpentine.

A pair of Jackdaws pulled up clumps of grass in their quest for worms.

All the Jays are reappearing after their autumn task of burying acorns, as as usual are expecting to be given peanuts.

Tom was at Rainham, where he got a picture of two Ravens. They are still seldom seen around London, but numbers to seem to be rising a bit.

He also sent a fine shot of one of the Wrens near the Serpentine bridge.

Two of the young Great Crested Grebes from the east end of the island practised their dance moves. They got as far as rather vaguely waving a bit of weed. The full mating dance takes some time to master.

The chick from the west end of the island, the youngest one on the lake, is quite big now and beginning to get a crest.

Two young Moorhens enjoyed climbing in the reeds in the Dell. Moorhens love climbing for its own sake, not just to find insects.

Mark Williams sent a pleasing picture of the Black cygnet in St James's Park, getting darker by the day.

Monday 28 October 2019

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture came out for a short time, but quickly retreated into her hole when some workmen started cutting up the tarmac path, offending her sensitive ears.

The Coal Tit at the bridge perched in the pink-leafed bush where I hoped she would go.

A close-up of a Starling waiting to raid a table at the Dell restaurant.

Carrion Crows industriously unload rubbish bins in the hope of finding something edible. The park is now replacing the bins with newer ones with closed tops, but the crows can still get in through the slots in the sides.

The flower beds in the Rose Garden are being replanted with winter flowers. Magpies take advantage of the freshly turned earth to look for worms and larvae.

At the Lido restaurant, the resident Grey Heron is getting bolder by the day. 'Oh look, a table.'

'Let's see what there is.'

'What, no cake?'

'At least there's a cup of mayonnaise.'

'Aargh, I can't get it out with my beak. Oh well, away it goes. Better luck next time.'

The lonely Shoveller drake on the Long Water has been joined by four other Shovellers.

A good close-up by David Element of a drake scratching.

A chocolate brown Mallard drake on the Serpentine. Like all the extra dark Mallards, he has a white bib, an expansion of the narrow white neck ring of a normal Mallard.

A dramatic picture by Ahmet Amerikali of an Egyptian Goose about to splash down.

The moored power boats make a wonderful adventure playground for young Moorhens to practise their climbing.

Virginia got a fine photograph of a Cormorant uttering a hoarse call at Peter Pan.

Sunday 27 October 2019

While we were feeding the Great Tits ...

... and a Robin on the corner of the leaf yard ...

... three Goldcrests appeared in the yew tree.

A Jackdaw perched on the railings waiting for a peanut.

One of the Wrens near the bridge came out on a branch with a fittingly tiny bracket fungus.

A Starling shone in the low autumn sunlight as it chattered in a tree beside the Serpentine.

The odd trio of a Red-Crested Pochard drake, his Mallard mate, and a Mallard drake hanger-on cruised around with a pair of Gadwalls in one of the fountains in the Italian Garden.

The Red-Crested Pochard is a spectacular creature. His lofty forehead suggests a great brain, but in fact it's all fluff.

The female Mallard enjoyed a flap.

So did an Egyptian Goose on the Serpentine. They have enormous wings for their body size.

More Egyptians flew in from the Parade Ground, where the dismal Winter Wasteland is being erected.

A Tufted drake turned upside down to preen his belly.

Common Gulls are trickling in gradually, and there are now half a dozen on the Round Pond. They refused to allow a group shot, and this is the best I could manage.

Autumn colours are developing in the avenue leading from Kensington Road to the Palace. The south front, by Nicholas Hawksmoor, is the grandest part of a hodgepodge of a 17th century building vaguely extended in various directions.

Someone had arranged some red maple leaves on a tree stump nearby, so I took advantage of this artistic endeavour.

The sweetgum tree at the Diana fountain is at its showy best.