Tuesday 29 September 2020

Moorhens are generally more peaceful than Coots but fight in the same way, kicking and jumping on each other. They also try to seize their opponent's head. This battle went on for at least five minutes. This is the last two and a half minutes at the end of which a Coot, eager to join in the fight, rushed in and accidentally broke it up.

One of the Great Crested Grebes from the east end of the island, at last free from the duties of child care, fished under the small electric boat.

The edge of the Serpentine is thick with nasty-looking and rather smelly green algae. But to a Mallard they're a treat, and she was shovelling them down with gusto.

Disturbed by a dog, Canada Geese flew to the safety of the lake.

The one and only pair of Gadwalls are still on the Long Water.

The overnight rain had brought up plenty of worms, and various gulls, Carrion Crows and Egyptian Geese were massed on the Parade Ground looking for them.

Two Magpies enjoyed a splash in a puddle.

Near the Henry Moore sculpture, a Rose-Ringed Parakeet chewed a yew berry to extract the sweet juice before spitting it out. The ground underneath the tree was littered with sticky berries and broken twigs.

While I was filming this, one of the regular Blue Tits came out to be fed.

This Robin is usually on the railings here, but keeps to itself.

The Grey Wagtail appeared for a moment in the Dell pool, giving time for just one hasty shot.

I was baffled by this conflict involving a European Hornet, but David Element has explained what was going on. The picture below shows the hornet (brown and yellow) predating a social wasp (black and yellow -- probably Vespula vulgaris but impossible to tell without seeing the facial markings there are several similar species). The sting was being employed in a failed attempt at self-defence and a drop of venom has collected at the end. Hornets often catch and subsequently dismember smaller social wasps or Honeybees and they can easily collect them from ivy flowers at this time of the year. They also feed on the ivy flowers and they are comparatively easy to photograph in autumn, either on ivy or at sap-runs. I [DE] have seen a Common Wasp taking a freshly emerged Common Darter Dragonfly as prey.

The ivy was full of insects. I was looking for an Ivy Bee and didn't see one, but there were plenty of Honeybees.

I wasn't sure about this hoverfly, but Conehead 54 reckons it's Eristalis pertinax. It wouldn't turn round to show its face.

But this is certainly our old friend Myathropa florea with the Batman symbol on its thorax.

There are still lots of Greenbottle flies on the ivy flowers.

A Holly Blue butterfly perched on a leaf on the ground below.


  1. Black hoverfly pic appears twice instead of Grey Wagtail. And always a pleasure to tune in. Jim

    1. Thank you, corrected. Blogger malfunctioned constantly this evening, putting pictures in the wrong place, and I only just managed to get the post together at all. The new interface is an unmitigated disaster.

  2. That fight looks more dangerous to the losing bird than ordinary Coot fights, it seems to me. The intruding Coot got overeager and spoilt the "fun".

    I'm sure the Mallard would think the same about some humans' taste for steamed broccoli.

    Wonderful, if hair-rising, picture of the Hornets. We should be grateful to them for their vigilance, but darn, aren't they the stuff of nightmares.

    1. In 1960 President George H.W. Bush banned the serving of broccoli on Air Force One. He remarked, 'I do not like broccoli ... and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!' Howls of anguish from the American Broccoli Growers' association. The vegetable haunted politics for years. At the 1992 election which put Bill Clinton in the White House, Hillary was photographed holding a sign saying 'Let's put broccoli in the White House again.' In 2013 at a dinner for children who had won a competition to design a healthy recipe, Obama was asked what his favourite food was. He claimed it was broccoli. Not even the most slavish Democrats believed him.

  3. Ralph the Eristalis looks like E. pertinax to me & the wing margin markings of the blue look like a male Holly Blue to me.

    1. Thank you. Have changed the blog. As I get more interested in hoverflies I'm surprised at how variable their markings can be.

      Yes, the wing patterns of that butterfly are clearly those of a Holly Blue. But it was a remarkably deep blue, and the underwing looked beige rather than blue-grey. Maybe the result of the dimming autumn daylight and reflections off the leaf on to the underwing. In full summer sunshine Holly Blues are hard to photograph as their bright upperwings tend to flare to white, and you have to stop down the camera a lot. Much less for Common Blues.