Wednesday 30 November 2022

A new Black Swan

A Black Swan has arrived on the Round Pond, the first one in the park for some time. It's a big male and quite aggressive ... 

... but a Coot got the better of it.

A pair of Gadwalls fed in the low sunlight.

The widowed female Mute Swan was back on the Long Water, preening on the gravel bank. Somehow she has kept her end of the lake clear of other swans all by herself ...

... but I'm sure the male of the pair in the Italian Garden has designs on her territory.

A Little Grebe crossed the Long Water.

I was expecting this to be the one we've seen recently, but I'm not sure. The previous one was definitely immature, still with faint traces of stripes, and this one looks completely adult and beginning to change into breeding plumage. It could just be the same one growing up quickly, which they do much faster than Great Crested Grebes.

The fallen poplar at the Vista is now mostly inhabited by Black-Headed Gulls, with only a few Cormorants remaining. At the peak of the Cormorant population there were as many as 22 in the tree.

A Grey Heron perched among autumn leaves near the bridge.

More autumn colours: a Jay in a beech behind the Albert Memorial...

... and a Carrion Crow on a notice board beside the Serpentine.

One of the three Coal Tits followed me up the Flower Walk.

The horse chestnut trees which produced new leaves after the drought are still green. A Great Tit caught some tiny creature on a twig.

This pair of Magpies at the Steiner bench are, I think, the parents of the large and unruly family that ranges along the east side of the Long Water.

We've seen this female Great Spotted Woodpecker near the Speke obelisk several times before.

She was leaping around with great vigour.

Afternoon sunshine brought out a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee on the mahonia bush in the Rose Garden. Looking at past pictures, I see that I found one in the same place on 2 January this year.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

A shock for a Coal Tit

A Coal Tit in a yellow ginkgo tree in the Flower Walk ...

... spun round in fright as a Chaffinch landed behind at ...

... and left it in possession of the twig.

Also in the Flower Walk, a Blue Tit looked out from an aucuba bush ...

... and a Robin perched in a small beech.

Long-Tailed Tits gathered in a bush at the edge of the Vista before the flock crossed the gap together.

A Dunnock came out of the bushes at Mound Gate. You think of Dunnocks as being stripy birds, but from this angle the stripes hardly show at all.

A male Blackbird ate sloes in a bush beside the Lido ...

... while his mate perched on a twig above. I hope he let her come down to enjoy the feast.

When you think of how fantastically shy the Jackdaws were when they returned to the park in 2014, it seems incredible that now they walk confidently up to you to demand peanuts.

Jays also make their wishes felt very clearly.

A young Herring Gull fished up an algae-coated stone from the shallows at the edge of the Serpentine.

A Grey Heron perched on a rail in the Italian Garden with the Mute Swan pair visible in the pool behind.

A Cormorant had been fishing in another pool. Not finding anything, it decided to leave. There were few people here on a misty grey day, so it strolled across the pavement and jumped down the steps of the marble fountain ...

... where another Cormorant had just caught a perch under the edge of the fountain bowl.

A male Egyptian Goose on Buck Hill caressed his mate and panted hoarsely. Although the sexes look alike they make completely different sounds: females quack.

Monday 28 November 2022

A lack of thrushes

A young male Blackbird from the Dell came out to look for worms. There has been a family nesting in the Dell for several years, and they have become quite calm about the crowds of people on the path only a few feet away. This one will take thrown raisins, and accepted several as a modelling fee.

There are a few migrant Blackbirds here now, many of which are young as can be seen from the dark beaks of the males. But it has been a very poor year for migrant thrushes generally, at least so far -- we shall probably get the usual flocks of Redwings when the Winter Wasteland is finally dismantled in January. This Mistle Thrush in a sweet chestnut near the Speke obelisk is certainly a resident.

A pair of Stock Doves perched on a dead tree nearby.

This is the tatty Blue Tit in the Flower Walk whose peculiar genetics I mentioned yesterday. Today she was looking a bit smarter than recently, having grown back some worn-off feathers on her head.

The usual Coal Tit was on a dead stem on the other side of the path ...

... and a Jay waited in a magnolia tree.

The male Chaffinch at the back of the Albert Memorial came down on to the path, hoping for a pine nut which of course I provided.

There are usually some Long-Tailed Tits near the Italian Garden as there are plenty of hawthorn trees, which they particularly favour presumably because there are a lot of insects in them.

The Robin in the Rose Garden was having to sing at the top of its voice to be heard over the dreadful Christmas songs coming from the skating rink in the wasteland.

The female Peregrine was on the tower.

A Grey Heron watched patiently for a fish at the Vista. The Cormorants have had most of them by now.

Black-Headed Gulls milled around the Dell restaurant.

The pair of Herring Gulls on the south side of the Serpentine were having a quiet moment.

The urns in the Italian Garden are full of rainwater, as their drain holes got blocked years ago. They are convenient places for Egyptian Geese to moisten their feathers to help with preening.

Glancing sunlight reveals Egyptians' iridescent green secondaries, a duck-type feature in these birds that are intermediate between geese and ducks. A goose feature is that the sexes look the same.

Sunday 27 November 2022

A grey day

It was a dark soggy day and hard to get reasonable pictures. After I had lured two Magpies out of the corkscrew hazel bush in the Flower Walk with gifts of peanuts ...

... the small birds arrived, including the very hungry Coal Tit that follows me along the path.

Word seems to be getting around the normally nervous Blue Tits that it's safe to come to people's hand for food, and there are now four in the Flower Walk and behind the Albert Memorial that will do this.

They include the tatty Blue Tit now, but I didn't see her today. Neil told me that her peculiar appearance is due to a gene called 'frizzle' which is found in various species.

The female Chaffinch was in the prematurely blossoming viburnum bush across the path ...

... and a male of a different pair came out in a tree at the back of the Albert Memorial.

A pair of Wrens hopped around in a bush near the Italian Garden.

The flock of Long-Tailed Tits from the back of the Lido was in a weeping willow.

A pair of Black-Headed Gulls displayed to each other on the shore below.

The young Grey Heron was fishing from a wire basket at the island.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes rested on the Long Water.

A Moorhen poked around in the little stream in the Dell. They can find something to eat just about anywhere.

The Mute Swans seem to have gone back to the status quo. The pair in the Italian Garden were on the kerb of a pool. The male, on the right, seems to be more tolerant of the local Egyptian Geese.

The widowed female was on the nesting island with a Cormorant and a Grey Heron.

The teenage cygnet that was stranded in the Italian Garden yesterday has managed to escape.

Three Egyptians preened side by side on the edge of the Serpentine. They must be a family to stay so peacefully together.

Damp as it was, the temperature was quite mild and there were several Buff-Tailed Bumblebees browsing on the withered lavender in the Rose Garden.