Saturday 31 October 2020

A morning and early afternoon of rain, often heavy. It didn't deter the Long-Tailed Tits ...

... and I saw two flocks in different places within a few minutes of each other. I was never sure whether I was seeing different flocks or the same one several times, but now it's clear that there are at least two.

A Robin wasn't deterred by a raindrop bouncing off its face ...

... but a Jay looked quite bedraggled.

The male Peregrine was on the barracks tower. His face is much darker than the female's, and he almost always stands with his back to the view.

In the absence of the usual Grey Heron, Feral Pigeons perched in a row on the standing stone in the Dell.

A pair of Herring Gulls waved leaves at each other and moaned affectionately, and the female sat down in a significant way, as if nesting.

A Moorhen cruised through floating leaves.

A Greylag Goose drank from a muddy puddle. I can only assume that they like the taste of mud -- more interesting than plain water, like tea.

Shovellers fed at the Vista.

The Red-Crested Pochard in the Italian Garden added a bit of colour to a grey day.

The brood of four young Mute Swans on the Serpentine are now fully grown and absolutely enormous.

There was a hideous apparition in a hedge.

The rain slackened later and there was a brief dry spell which allowed a Cormorant to dry its wings ...

... and a weak sun came out for a moment, lighting up the beautiful markings of a female Gadwall.

Friday 30 October 2020

A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from a tree near the Italian Garden.

A Starling at the Lido restaurant, waiting to grab scraps, attended to its feathers. Starlings do everything with great speed and energy.

Another stare from a Long-Tailed Tit.

The Feral Pigeons have now realised that there is grass seed to be had under the Henry Moore sculpture.

Someone had dumped some cooked rice on the edge of the Serpentine for the pigeons to eat. The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull hung around, hoping that a pigeon would be too busy feeding to see him coming ...

... but then a Carrion Crow barged in and pushed the pigeons away.

Another crow intercepted a bit of bread that someone was trying to feed to a pair of Mallards in the Dell pool.

A Moorhen washed and preened in the stream below the waterfall.

A Cormorant washed furiously at the island.

A small fish saw its last daylight near the Italian Garden.

A Tufted drake balanced on the chain near the bridge.

A feeding frenzy caused by someone throwing bread at the Mute Swans.

The restless Black Swan is back on the Round Pond.

Bright yellow Sulphur Tuft mushrooms have started to come up on the prolific patch of wood chips near the Physical Energy statue.

Thursday 29 October 2020

A day of steady drizzle. A Carrion Crow stood in a puddle.

A Jay wandered through long wet grass, not a surface that any corvids like but there's always the chance of a worm.

One of the Peregrines was back on the barracks tower. In wet or windy weather they seem to prefer this place to their other daytime station, the Metropole Hilton hotel in the Edgware Road.

The ground under the Henry Moore sculpture has just been sown with grass seed, something that normally attracts a mob of Feral Pigeons to eat the seed. But so far only one seemed to have discovered it.

A Wood Pigeon devoured holly berries at a great rate.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits moved along the edge of the Long Water ...

... taking with them a Goldcrest, which found an insect larva on a twig.

A young Herring Gull ate a fish -- which looked to have died of natural causes some time ago -- but was constantly harassed by Carrion Crows trying to grab it.

Another played with a dead leaf, one of their favourite toys.

A Black-Headed Gull stared intently from the scaffolding in the Italian Garden.

A Grey Heron fished beside the platform at Bluebird Boats. Fish lurk in the shadows, but if one puts its head out for a moment it is instantly grabbed.

Egyptian Geese roost on the pedalos at night, producing a major problem for the staff who have to blast off the mess with a high-pressure hose.

Two young Mute Swans were making their first attempts at flying, so far without much success.

A Shoveller cruised past the waterfront at Peter Pan.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Three Mute Swans thundering over the head of a young Great Crested Grebe didn't worry it.

One of its parents caught a perch, and ate it. The young ones are only being fed occasionally, and are expected to catch most of their own food.

Shovellers seem to be able to revolve for ever. This pair at the Vista continued non-stop for at least three minutes after I stopped filming.

A sight of an old friend -- the Polish Black-Headed Gull T4UN which has been returning faithfully for many years.

A Carrion Crow bathed on the edge of the Dell waterfall.

Three of the Magpie family on Buck Hill perched together.

The fourth was by itself among some berries, though it didn't seem interested in eating them.

A young Wood Pigeon had a hard time pulling some tough holly berries off the twig.

It was much easier for a Rose-Ringed Parakeet to deal with soft yew berries.

Starlings hunted for insects and worms among the dead leaves in the Diana fountain enclosure.

A Pied Wagtail was also hunting on the other side of the Serpentine.

A Wren hopped around in a yew hedge in the Flower Walk.

A Long-Tailed Tit stared at the camera.

Some Common Wasps are still around. This one was browsing in a fatsia clump near the bridge.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

A day of intermittent rain. A Grey Heron stood stoically on a dead willow near the Italian Garden.

One of the Peregrines huddled miserably on the barracks tower.

Feral Pigeons sheltered under the cornice of the bridge.

A Carrion Crow perched on a gas lamp ...

... and a pair of Jackdaws among the red leaves of a sweetgum tree.

Long-Tailed Tits continued their endless hunt for insects.

The affectionate pair of Black-Headed Gulls who constantly display to each other were in their usual place on the south shore of the Serpentine.

A Herring Gull stared down haughtily from an urn in the Italian Garden.

Another Black-Headed Gull showed no respect for the statue of Edward Jenner, the inventor of smallpox vaccination whose discovery led to the total eradication of the disease.

However, the statue, by William Calder Marshall, has seen worse things. It was originally in Trafalgar Square, where its installation in 1858 was furiously opposed by both anti-vaxers and the military, who complained that he was the only civilian in the square and, worse, was sitting down when all the generals and admirals were standing up. It was removed to the park in 1862. The British Medical Journal commented that the other statues remained in Trafalgar Square 'because they killed their fellow creatures whereas he only saved them'.

Honourable mention should be made of one of these military men in the square, Charles James Napier who, as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in India, saved far more lives than he took by prohibiting the practice of suttee, burning widows alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands. When Hindu priests protested, he is said to have replied, 'Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.'

A Great Crested Grebe on the Long Water was already in its plain winter plumage.

While I was taking this picture from the bridge, another pair of grebes shot under it and flew up the Long Water.

A Cormorant on the other side of the bridge tried to dry its wings in the drizzle.

In wet weather, when there are few people and their dogs in the park, the Canada and Greylag Geese can move on to the lush grass on the north side of the Serpentine. There was a brief glimpse of one of the Bar-Headed x Greylag hybrids which often fly in from St James's Park.

A Shoveller drake had shovelled up enough tiny water creatures to satisfy him, and attended to his fine feathers.