Thursday 6 August 2020

A quick round of the park before I went to Rainham Marshes.

The two young Great Crested Grebes at the bridge practised fishing. They didn't catch anything, but it was good to see them improving their skills before the awful day when their parents stop feeding them.

The Black Swan was in a group of Mute Swans, displaying and calling. The Mute Swans didn't know what to make of this spectacle, since they have different displays and, though not really mute, generally restrict themselves to grunts and hisses.

A very short video by Duncan Campbell of the Egyptian Goose family which has taken up residence on the traffic island at Marble Arch, and which shows no sign of leaving after more than 100 days. (It's short because people kept walking in front of the camera.) They are wandering among the large group of bronze African Elephants that currently ornaments the island. Being African birds themselves, and found over much of the continent, in the wild they probably encounter the real thing.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate was displaying hunting behaviour again, though the wary pigeons gave her a wide berth. It seems that she envies her mate's skill and would like to show him that she's just as good. He was watching her from the Dell restaurant roof.

The young Little Owl came out in the usual tree after the early drizzle had stopped.

A young male Blackbird is just getting his first coat of black feathers.

A family of Blackcaps were bustling around in a bush beside the Long Water.

At Rainham it was not much of a day for birds, though there's always something to see.

Three Little Egrets bickered mildly along the water's edge at the Shooting Butts hide (the name refers to the marshes' former use as a military practice ground). The first clip also shows two Black-Tailed Godwits, which flew away before I could make a separate video of them and I couldn't find them again.

Just one Little Grebe was on view ...

... and one teenage Great Crested Grebe, older than the ones in the park, which was by itself catching insects.

A female Kestrel perched on the electric fence.

Three seals were distantly visible on the other side of the wide Thames estuary, blurred by haze. I think they are Harbour Seals, but there are also Grey Seals here.

There was no shortage of Marsh Frogs in the little drainage ditches.

A Gatekeeper butterfly perched on a globe thistle ...

... and a Small Tortoiseshell on a teasel.

There was a female Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly on the path ...

... and also this ornamental little creature, which I think is a Brassica Shieldbug (Eurydema oleracea).


  1. I think you are right about that shield bug, do you irecord these?

    1. No, I didn't even know there was a bug recording app. There are serious insect people at Rainham anyway who will be recording these things much more efficiently and accurately than I can.

  2. I think I remember reading that seals can sometimes be seen swimming up the Thames even within the city itself?. That's astounding.

    I have good hopes for those two young Grebes, They look like they are getting the hang of fishing, even though they aren't catching anything yet. They can survive on insects for a time, right?

    Speaking of rivers: look what a local fisher caught in the not that large river Tiétar, in the north of the region:

    That's a 2,21 mt long catfish...

    1. Yes, seals swim right through the city. Which is not to say that the river is clean. It's better than it was, but you still need a serious immune system to cope with it. People who join rowing clubs on the upstream edge of London always get ill until their antibodies catch up with the local bacteria.

      I don't think grebes can sustain life on insects alone, at least not here. They always face a big challenge which only the strongest and cleverest survive.

      That is a very serious catfish. There was one catfish here, in a pool in the Italian Garden, origin unknown but maybe dumped. Paul found it. I was afraid it was going to grow into a monster, but I think a heron got it before that as it hasn't been seen recently.

    2. Herons, the true guardians of civilization.

    3. People don't realise how vital scavengers are -- or only belatedly after they're gone, as with the Indian vultures killed by diclofenac.

  3. Some nice insect photos from Rainham. Concur with Brassica Bug. Though i haven't seen them, Rainham has some much scarcer shieldbugs such a smottled & Rambur's Pied Shieldbug. Must try & get there soon.

    Love the Marsh Frog shot- they are such wonderful characters & are much relished by the resident Herons, Little Egrets & Grass Snakes. I saw a turquoise specimen there one year- spectacular!

    1. It's definitely a time for insects at Rainham rather than birds. However, the Cordite Store, which is the best place, is still shut as part of the great panic.

  4. Love the marsh frog, butterflies, dragonfly and brassica bug pics..
    Must visit rainham marshes when the weather cools down...

    1. Not much happening there at present. Keep an eye on the London Bird Club Wiki for news.