Monday, 5 September 2022

Insect-eating birds

A Chiffchaff looked for insects in the bushes near the Henry Moore statue.

Ahmet Amerikali found a Reed Warbler oddly far from the lake in the Flower Walk.

The Grey Wagtail reappeared on the edge of the small waterfall in the Dell. I think it's in the park all the time, but not often seen.

A female and a male Pied Wagtail hunted in the grass beside the Round Pond. Females have a grey back, males black. They stay well apart from each other when hunting, as they make sudden dashes and might collide if too close.

You can never be sure what they're finding, but I got a close-up of the female with a small white larva.

A flock of Starlings ran around in the grass. Sometimes their prey is wireworms, which are the long thin larvae of click beetles, and you can see them pulling up what look like little threads. They take off and land apparently simultaneously. One of them must start the movement, but their reactions are so fast that the human eye can't catch it.

With Blackbirds you can see when they get an earthworm, but a lot of their food is small insects that go down in a flash.

Two Cormorants stood on the fallen poplar in the Long Water.

Ahmet got a picture of one catching a fair-sized pike.

One of the youngest young Grey Herons was looking down in the hope of finding a fish. The fishing instinct must be completely hard-wired: they don't learn anything from their parents.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was in his favourite place on the Dell restaurant roof with his offspring.

The young one is still tolerated on his territory but is expected to find its own food. But gulls learn by watching other gulls, and I'm sure it has quickly learnt scavenging techniques and the best places to look. All the rubbish bins in the park now have some kind of cover over the top to stop big gulls from climbing in and throwing out the entire contents to examine in the open.

One of the pair on Moorhens in the Dell reclined on a rock.

A clump of purple Michaelmas daisies attracted several White-Tailed Bumblebees ...

... and a Common Carder worked over a pink stonecrop.


  1. That Moorhen is doing a great impersonation of Marguerite Gautier, fetchingly draped along a sort of fainting coach all languid-like,

    Are you getting the first winter migrants over there? Some are earlier than usual here.

    1. Patchy returns of winter migrants. Some Mistle Thrushes were reported arriving elsewhere, but no sign of them here. A few Shovellers have turned up. Also Pochards, which arrive quite early. Black-Headed Gulls also return early, and we have just one strangely early Common Gull -- they don't usually arrive till October.

  2. Lovely shots of the Grey Wagtail & your top Chiffchaff. I don't think Ahmed's photo is a Chiffchaff though. It looks like an out of habitat Reed Warbler (not uncommon on migration)-very look spiky bill. It also has a long primary projection which Chiffchaff doesn't. Very different looking bird to yours.

    1. Yes. Way out of habitat in the Flower Walk, which is 400 yards from the lake. I see them in the lakeside trees, but this is an odd place.