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.


  1. Sigh. I miss our Black Swan.

    I wonder if the young Grebes have any notion of what sex they are? I remember that Chicken, the rook starring in Corvus, didn't apparently know that she was a female until she laid her first egg.

    The Starlings seem to be pecking at the cucumber as if they half expected it to bite back. I wonder if they thought it was a dead animal or something like that. They're not really carrion feeders though, aren't they?

    1. I don't think even adult grebes know what sex they are most of the time. They look the same, their rituals are the same, they take it in turns to go on top when mating until one of them is surprised by laying an egg, and then it's Gosh, I'm a girl grebe, and then they forget again.

    2. I've read that in captive and feral pigeons, sometimes the hen will mount after the cock has, particularly when she is most fertile. Pigeons being distantly related to grebes and flamingoes. It would seem to make gravitational sense as the hen's bits will then be underneath, but I wonder why it is not much more widespread among birds. Jim

    3. In grebes mating is invited by the 'underneath' bird, a most unusual thing for birds.

    4. Is that so? While usually the males have to display and court to win females, it seems that widely among birds, coitus in established pairs is often initiated by the female prostrating herself or initiating a sequence leading to mating e.g. in pigeons. Sometimes females have special mating calls, e.g. female great tits have a love 'sub-song'. Also females as well as males can initiate 'infidelity' matings, at least according to BBC documentaries. Jim.

  2. Well, maybe not. I can only speak from my own observation, and this behaviour is very obvious in GC Grebes.