Thursday, 12 December 2019

Another dismal drizzly day. The female Peregrine perched indifferently on the barracks tower.

A Grey Heron fished from the swan island in the Long Water.

A Cormorant managed to catch two perch at once, creating a problem for itself as perch, with their spiny dorsal fins, have to be turned round and swallowed head first.

The Cormorant didn't manage to turn both, and one fish had a lucky escape. Thanks to Michael Frankling for these excellent pictures.

Two pairs of Egyptian Geese fought and chased each other on the Serpentine.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond, so demure and peaceful when it arrived, is now acting as you'd expect from a Black Swan.

There were two Shoveller drakes at the east end of the Serpentine, a place where Shovellers never normally go, but the foul weather was keeping people out of the park and there was nothing to scare these shy ducks.

The solitary Pochard at Peter Pan mooched around in the falling rain.

A Robin foraged on the wet path.

A Wren wandered about in a flower bed in the Rose Garden.

A Pied Wagtail hunted along the edge of the Round Pond.

A squirrel seemed to find an empty crisp packet particularly delicious. I think it was licking salt off the inside.

At least there's a lifebelt for you if you obey this notice. A watching Carrion Crow was disappointed when I didn't.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he got a fine picture of a female Stonechat on a reed mace head, unusually close for such a shy bird.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A sunny morning brought the male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial to the front of the pair's hole.

The sunlight flattered the fine plumage of the Red-Crested Pochard in the Italian Garden ...

... and a Shoveller drake at the Vista ...

... and shone through the wings of a Cormorant.

A Wood Pigeon eating the last few berries on a tree stretched farther and farther until inevitably it lost its balance and fell out.

A Jay followed me from the bridge to the Vista, taking one peanut after another.

The weeping willow tree near the bridge has collapsed lower and lower over the years but is still alive. Its branches provide a haven for all kinds of water birds, large and small.

Later it clouded over and started raining. A Tufted Duck didn't care.

A Carrion Crow bathed in the Serpentine ...

... and another found a packet of roasted nuts somewhere, ripped it to pieces, and devoured the contents.

One of the Grey Heron nests on the island was occupied, but the birds don't seem to be nesting in earnest yet.

A Blue Tit at the bridge got very impatient when I tried to photograph it instead of feeding it at once.

A Long-Tailed Tit snagged its tail on a twig, a rare event for these agile birds as you can tell by the fine condition of the feathers. Birds that habitually make contact with trees, such as Nuthatches and Treecreepers, have very worn tail feathers.

A small aeroplane circled several times over the park.

Aircraft have no secrets from the web, so I can tell you that G-AZOL is a Piper Seneca, a venerable machine built in 1971 (more senex than Seneca) operated by Select Air Charter and presumably carrying sightseers. While most of it is 48 years old the right propeller is only 10, the original having been demolished when someone started the engine with the brakes off and taxied into a van. You can see a photograph of its very traditional cockpit here.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

A dark grey day of wind and drizzle turning to rain. Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks, Black-Headed Gulls, Feral Pigeons and a Moorhen put up with it. They have seen worse.

Between showers, some swans and Tufted drakes formed a little flotilla at the edge of the Serpentine.

A Moorhen preened on the trunk of a dead birch tree that had fallen into the water from the island.

A Coot skittered over the Serpentine, holding a thick strand of algae and chased by a Black-Headed Gull that was trying to snatch it. It detached a hoverfly larva from the algae and ate it while the gull stood by resentfully.

A Common Gull did the worm dance in the Diana fountain enclosure, which all the gulls know to be the best place for worms in the park. The original clay soil here has been replaced with good topsoil and high quality sports turf has been laid on it, making it a worms' paradise until they stick their heads out and get eaten.

A Carrion Crow probed a crack in the concrete for edible creatures.

This crow has a ring, which is most unusual for crows in the park. The ring looks new, and maybe Bill Haines put it on since he has been ringing other birds than the Coots and Moorhens in his tracking project. The crow flew off before I could see the whole number, but part of it is -1003- on a standard BTO ring.

A Jackdaw waited to be fed among a mass of old peanut shells which shows that this is a usual feeding place.

A Magpie struck a dramatic pose on a tree trunk.

A Jay was a bit bedraggled in the rain.

A Goldcrest came out of the bushes near the bridge and stayed on a holly twig just long enough for a photograph.

There were curious looks from a Chaffinch on the railings ...

... and a Wren on a twig.

A Robin came down several times to take pine nuts from my hand.

The first snowdrops are out at the east end of the Serpentine.

A pretty orange-brown fungus on a felled trunk at the bottom of Buck Hill. Mario tells me that it's Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes).

Monday, 9 December 2019

A young Herring Gull watched two adults dancing to bring up worms. A few minutes later it had learnt the worm dance and was trying it out.

Two Black-Headed Gulls that have been returning to the lake every winter for years: T4UN from Poland ...

... and 28P1, less exotically from the Pitsea landfill site in Essex.

The north edge of Kensington Gardens is bordered by a hedge screening out the busy traffic on the Bayswater Road. It's a rather neglected part of the park, which is just what Blackbirds like, and many of them live in the hedge.

A Carrion Crow dunked a bit of Arabic flatbread in a puddle and delicately picked soggy pieces off it.

A Jackdaw perched on a high branch waiting to fly down for a proffered peanut.

A Blue Tit at the bridge was also looking expectant.

A Long-Tailed Tit looked for insects in leaf buds.

Cormorants perched on the posts that originally supported the nesting island for Mute Swans, destroyed by its own occupants.

A young swan on the Serpentine enjoyed a vigorous wash. This is one of birds that was rescued by the Swan Sanctuary after it had been injured by a dog, and has now been returned to the park.

However, four of the returned teenagers found the resident swans on the Serpentine too tough for them, and have retreated to the calm of the Round Pond. You can also see the Black Swan hurrying over to the group that are being fed. (And no, the Round Pond isn't particularly round.)

Tom was at Titchwell Marsh, where he got a fine picture of a Sanderling ...

... and video of a Turnstone. It's turning over sticks here, but you can see how it got its name.

Every now and then bands of young men in fancy dress roam around the park. These were captured by Ahmet Amerikali. You can see why proper superheroes sensibly wear their underpants outside their tights.

One of them, wearing a duck mask and feet, lost his footing and one of his feet in the Italian Garden. The real ducks were not amused.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

The pair of Great Crested Grebes from the east end of the island are still on the Serpentine, though most of the others have flown out. They were defending their territory against another grebe that had crossed the imaginary line.

A Cormorant stretched and flapped to make sure its wings were in order before taking off from the Long Water.

A fine picture by Ahmet Amerikali of a Cormorant with a perch.

The Black Swan saw someone feeding the waterfowl beside the Round Pond and hurried over to squeeze into the crowd.  It's only taken a few weeks for what I think is a feral bird to adjust to park life.

A Shoveller looked splendid in the morning sunshine.

Later a chilly wind got up, and a Grey Heron hunched into a streamlined attitude as it stood on the roof of one of the boathouses.

A pair of Egyptians sheltered between the legs of the Henry Moore sculpture.

Another pair displayed in the horse ride beside the Serpentine. The one on the left has a slight case of angel wing, but can fly and has survived. More severely affected birds that can't fly don't last long, as they are killed by foxes or dogs.

This Blackbird beside the Long Water used to come out regularly to be given sultanas, but I hadn't seen him for months. Then today he was back, calling from a branch, and of course he got his reward.

The Winter Wasteland attracts all kinds of scavengers, and is mostly responsible for the number of Carrion Crows that have moved permanently from the northwest corner of Kensington Gardens to the east end of Hyde Park. A couple of dozen of them flew into the Dell and started rootling in the dead leaves.

A few days ago I published a picture of a Common Gull, of which this is a detail, and wrote that it probably couldn't see well straight ahead. I've noticed this in Common Gulls several times.

But this Common Gull has more frontally set eyes.

Black-Headed Gulls always seem to have eyes that can see straight forward ...

... and so do the larger gulls.

This is a young Lesser Black-Backed Gull which I think is the offspring of the pigeon eater and his mate.