Saturday 5 September 2020

Today started with a mystery bird. Two of them were on top of a horse chestnut tree near Queen's Gate, making a chattering noise rather like Goldfinches. I could only get these pictures of one of them, not good as the tree was tall and the camera pointed almost vertically upwards.

Although its head is striped, it isn't stripy enough elsewhere to be a Dunnock. What can be seen of the feather pattern is not unlike that of a Spotted Flycatcher, but its tail seems too short for that.

Update: Tom confirms that it's a Spotted Flycatcher.

Another half-seen bird in the leaf yard that allowed me one hasty shot turned out to be a female Blackcap.

A Coal Tit waited for its turn on the feeder in the Rose Garden.

A Grey Heron on the roof of the Dell restaurant was buzzed by several Carrion Crows. Crows seldom waste the opportunity to annoy herons.

The heron went off to sulk on the corner of the restaurant roof.

A picture of a heron in a better mood, having just caught a rat. Tom got this excellent shot at Wanstead Flats ...

... where he also photographed a Common Redstart in a hawthorn ...

... and a Whinchat in front of the concrete wall of a block of flats.

Back in the park, Ahmet Amerikali took this dramatic picture of two young Herring Gulls with only one pike.

A young Great Crested Grebe caught a fish under the willow tree near the bridge.

Three Red-Crested Pochard drakes pursued a female.

Again, there were lots of hoverflies in the wildflower patch behind the Lido. Here are four pictures, side and front views of two flies. Both look like Eristalis arbustorum, but their markings are fairly different. The differences in the face are due to the first one being female and the second male. Males have larger eyes that meet in the middle.

There was also a Greenbottle fly on an ivy flower.

Someone had left an Aperol spritz on a table at the Lido restaurant. There isn't much alcohol in this drink. but there is quite enough to get a wasp off its little stripy face. One had got so drunk that it had fallen in. I fished it out with a feather. Another wasp visited it, perhaps merely out of curiosity, but I thought the drunk wasp might be in danger so I put it in a bush to recover. It will have a horrible hangover.


  1. The visiting wasp looked as though it might like to take a bite out of the drunk one. Good job you saved it.

    1. Yes, it looked as if the visiting wasp was saying 'Are you all right?' but I mistrusted its intention.

  2. I didn't know wasps can get drunk. It reminds me of boars getting off-their-tusks drunk after eating arbutus by the hundreds. That wasp ought to be grateful, as you saved its life twice over.

    Lovely pictures of the flycatcher! Such a lovely little bird.

    Poor Heron. Not even a weapon of mass destruction such as its beak is enough to withstand a communal assault launched by creatures vastly their superiors in intelligence.

    1. Crows constantly harass herons, and I am not sure whether their enmity is justified by anything that herons do, or whether it's just crows' dark sense of humour.

  3. Nice to get a Spotted Flycatcher! There seems to have been a good number passing through London but the species has eluded me so far this autumn. At least I caught up with Whinchat in Richmond Park yesterday!

    Wanstead Flats does turn up some amazing birds-good numbers of scarcities. It seems to pip all other London sites. I know there are some good birders there but that can be said for quite a few places.

    1. Wanstead Flats looks utterly unpromising. A little bit of scrub and a pond amid arid football pitches, with a clump of trees on the other side. But somehow it attracts a rich variety of birds. I've never understood why.