Saturday 1 August 2020

A Grey Wagtail enjoyed a bathe at the top of the waterfall in the Dell. We've seen it before, but what makes this clip unusual is that there was a family calling out and pointing at it from the parapet, and their little boy was actually in the pool a few feet from the normally very shy bird. But it took no notice of them at all. Birds are often not worried when people are active and noisy, but if you act like a birdwatcher and creep up on them stealthily they think they're being hunted and flee.

There are only two mature rowan trees left on Buck Hill, the other two having succumbed to honey fungus. One of them has already produced a fair crop of fruit, which a Blackbird was enjoying.

Much of the fruit has been torn off and dropped by Rose-Ringed Parakeets, sadly wasteful feeders which destroy far more than they eat. A Feral Pigeon was picking up the debris.

The young Little Owl was in its usual place in the lime tree on Buck Hill.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water dived repeatedly next to its mother to make her go down and find a fish for it.

A Moorhen in the Italian Garden looked down from a rail at its new family ...

... which were feeding and playing in the water lilies.

The Black Swan was on the edge of the Serpentine preening its fine ruffles.

The Egyptian goose pair with the blond male still have one gosling, though all the pale ones have been taken.

The Mallard still has three ducklings. She looked at them solicitously, but there's not much she can do in this dangerously exposed place with gulls circling overhead.

I don't usually photograph Grey Squirrels, but sometimes you just have to.

The unsuccessful wildflower patch at the back of the Lido has produced a few borage plants, which have attracted Honeybees.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he found a young Merlin. The tiny raptor was standing on the electric fence which keeps the cattle in, with its tail feathers touching the live wire. Feathers are quite good insulators, but it still seemed to be noticing a tingle.

He also got a good shot of a Grass Snake.


  1. All being well, I’m going to visit the park tomorrow. It will be the first time since March! I’m looking forward to seeing the young grebes

    1. Good, may see you there. The young grebes are easy to find -- just listen to them squeaking.

  2. I think I've read that live wire is dangerous to birds only when they touch it with two different parts of the body simultaneously. Something about completing the circuit. I've seen raptors perching on wires carefully refraining from closing their talons.

    There is something so endearing about the excitement in the voice of the family admiring the unflappable Grey Wagtail. Wonderment is the beginning of love.

    1. The Merlin isn't perching on the wire as a small bird would. It has its tail touching the live wire and its feet on the metal fence, which is earthed. So there is a circuit and a certain amount of current, possibly very little, is flowing through the bird.

    2. (I'm assuming that, in spite of having two wires, this is a normal electric fence with one contact earthed, and that both wires have the same polarity.)

  3. Very unseasonal Merlin! Wouldn't normally expect one to appear in the London area until about October, though always very scarce but Rainham seems to get the lion's share of the records. I did see Howard Vaughan put this out- assumed he'd found it!

    1. Probably Tom was with Howard when the Merlin turned up. Tom is a volunteer at Rainham.