Tuesday 7 December 2021

A very dark wet day again, and the quality of today's pictures is lamentable. But there was a view of a single Redwing on a tree near the Long Water.

As usual I was followed by several hungry Jays.

A Magpie preferred to try its luck in a rubbish bin.

A Carrion Crow stared darkly from a branch in the Dell.

There was a Grey Heron in the nest on the island again, mostly hidden by twigs so I didn't try to photograph it. Its mate was under the tree in one of the floating wire baskets.

These baskets were originally filled with water plants that were supposed to make an ornamental border for the island. All the plants died, but the baskets are being slowly refilled with hardy wild plants that have seeded themselves. The heron is standing in front of a patch of Purple Loosestrife.

This is the young Herring Gulls' playground at the southeast corner of the Serpentine, where they fish up bits of rubble encrusted in algae. They use these as toys, but they also peck at the algae. I don't think gulls would normally eat algae, so maybe there are some small edible  creatures in it.

A Black-Headed Gull was also interested in one of these lumps. They are the remains of several tons of rubble dropped into the lake by the organisers of one of those silly Red Bull birdman events where people strap on wings and crash into the lake. The debris was never cleared up.

Another Black-Headed Gull had a more usual snack, a rat-tailed maggot, also covered in algae which must it take some time to peck off to get to the larva inside.

Coots dived busily for something edible they had found on the bottom of the lake, perhaps some birdseed thrown in by a visitor. Black-Headed Gulls saw them feeding and hung around hoping to be able to grab it, but to no avail.

A passing Great Crested Grebe gave me a stare. There were few people on the shore on this filthy day.

It looks as if the grebes I saw mating yesterday on the Long Water were just taking advantage of a Coots' nest that was unoccupied at the time. Today a Coot was on it.

Beside the Serpentine a flock of grazing geese, mostly Canadas but with a few Greylags, saw a loose dog approaching in the far distance and moved down to the safety of the water. They have to do this again and again, thanks to irresponsible dog owners who don't put their dog on the lead when near the lake.

On the other side of the lake some Greylags were also disturbed, and flew overhead to come down in the water.

A pair of Shovellers rested at the edge of the island.

A hasty shot snatched through the bushes beside the Long Water: three of the teenage Mute Swans on the Long Water were putting in a bit of flying practice with their father.

To cheer up a dull day's set of pictures, here is something from Tinúviels' Spanish bird guide Jesús Porras, a Black-Winged Kite near Navalvillar de Pelar, Badajoz.


  1. A great capture of a typically nervous recently arrived Redwing.

    I-spy Cranes behind the Kite, very majestic. Jim

    1. Yes, in the rich bird life of Extremadura Common Cranes, which we would go into ecstasies over, are commonplace and are allowed to be out of focus in the background.

  2. That was one of our typical foggy early December days. Usually the fog will clear up by noon and the sun will come blazing in (for December standards, that is). Cranes tend to like the fog, as it makes them less visible.

    I always find it fascinating how large flocks of Geese manage to move in unison and coordination.

    Today's picture transmit how cold the day was. I bet the Jay and the small birds were very hungry.

    1. Studies of flying Starlings show that each bird observes nine others in front of it, which is how they manage to keep so closely in formation. I don't suppose that geese observe so many, either on the ground or flying in a flat formation, but it's enough -- along with a bird's very fast reaction speed -- to keep them coordinated.

      I can judge the hunger of the small birds by how often I need to refill my small bird feeder with sunflower hearts, which they all like. In summer a fill lasts three days. At the moment I am having to fill it daily, and it's nearly empty when I arrive.

  3. Lovely shot of the Redwing & the real colours of the Magpie.

    Surprise to see a Black-winged Kite in your report! Magnificent birds & have had the pleasure of watching a fair number over the years. A bird that is anticipated to turn up here as a vagrant in the near future as it moves further north.

    1. Hope it turns up before I drop off the twig. It is a lovely creature.