Tuesday 31 January 2023

Join the party

Starlings are gregarious birds. When a few start splashing on the edge of the lake the others fly down to join in the fun.

A female Blackbird stared suspiciously from a patch of dead leaves where she was looking for worms.

There was nothing suspicious about the stare of a Coal Tit in the Flower Walk. It wanted a pine nut, now.

The female Chaffinch in the corkscrew hazel flew out several times to catch pine nuts in midair.

Long-Tailed Tits passed through the bushes near Peter Pan.

Joan Chatterley photographed a Wren in a bush near the Dell. They're odd creatures. Some dash into hiding the moment you look at them, others seem completely unconcerned. 

The Grey Herons are back in their nest on the island -- but I'm pretty sure this is another false start and they won't get around to breeding for months.

The other pair of herons have shown no interest in nesting. One was on the moored pedalos, the other keeping a lookout from a boathouse roof, ruffled by the wind.

A row of Common Gulls preened on the buoys at the Lido.

The Little Grebe was diving with the Tufted Ducks in the Italian Garden fountain ...

... when its old friends the Gadwalls flew in, saw it, and instantly swam over to join it.

The dominant Mute Swan pair were in the next pool. They can't see down to the lake from here, and didn't notice that another pair had intruded and come most of the way up the Long Water. But of course they will and the invaders will be sent packing.

This Egyptian Goose has been alone on the lawn between the Dell and the Rose Garden for several days. It seems to be perfectly healthy and is walking around and grazing. Perhaps it just wants to be alone.

A picture from Alcalá de Henares taken by Tinúviel's husband Emilio: White Storks occupy the ruins of the archbishop's palace.

Alcalá was the birthplace of Cervantes. Its university is where the gigantic Complutensian Polyglot Bible was compiled, with Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin texts all on the same page, and published in 1520.

Monday 30 January 2023

Starling steals a worm

A Redwing pulled up a worm on the Parade Ground and was about to eat it when it was rudely bumped out of the way by a Starling which ate the worm itself.

A Song Thrush sang in a tree by the Speke obelisk. They often sing in winter on a sunny day, or just because they feel like it.

It wouldn't be a proper day without an imperious stare from the Coal Tit in the Flower Walk.

The aggressive Black-Headed Gull was literally at his post on the landing stage at the Diana fountain ...

... which he had cleared of all rivals.

There were no Cormorants on the Long Water, for the first time since they arrived in the autumn. Five remained at the Serpentine island. These too will probably be gone soon, not returning until the young fish hatched in spring have reached a worthwhile size.

The Little Grebe was diving under the fountain, getting heavily splashed. Any disturbance to the water seems to help with finding small edible creatures.

Then the three Tufted Ducks started diving and the Little Grebe joined them.

The Gadwalls that the Little Grebe used to accompany show no sign of wanting to return. There were five on the Long Water opposite Peter Pan, and some more on the Serpentine.

The dominant Mute Swans had completely cleared the Long Water of rivals and returned to the Italian Garden. They like it here because people feed them more than at the Vista or Peter Pan.

Greylag Geese grazed in the Diana fountain enclosure in the late afternoon light. They are often seen here because dogs are not allowed in; also the grass is of good quality and carefully maintained.

A pair of Egyptian Geese preened on the edge of the Serpentine.

The mahonia bush in the Rose Garden still has enough flowers to attract Buff-Tailed Bumblebees. After these flowers have gone the bees should be able to get by on the hellebores in the flower beds, not their first choice but all right at a pinch.

Tom shot this remarkable video of a Bittern fishing at Fishers Green in the Lee Valley Park.

Ahmet Amerikali was at Russia Dock, which sounds a hopeless place but there is now a nature reserve here called the Woodland. Among other birds he saw a Goldcrest landing on a branch ...

... and got a splendid shot of a Kingfisher and its reflection.

Sunday 29 January 2023

More Redwings

There were Redwings in three places today. Here is one dashing about the Parade Ground looking for worms and insects.

There were also some moving through the trees near the Speke obelisk, where I saw a flock yesterday, and a few in the tops of the tall plane trees beside the Albert Memorial, where I have never seen Redwings before.

Otherwise it was an uneventful day, with the birds kept in the background by the Sunday crowds. The usual crew turned up to be fed: a Chaffinch in the corkscrew hazel in the Flower Walk ...

... a Blue Tit just along the path ...

... and a Coal Tit near the Albert Memorial.

A Jay waited in a holly at Mount Gate.

The Black-Headed Gull with ring EZ73323 was on his post surveying the visitors as they went past speaking all the languages of the world.

The gull who owns the landing stage by the Diana memorial fountain was annoyed because two Canada Geese were standing on it and he couldn't get them off.

The lower ranking gulls who don't have private territories have made a terrible mess of the moored pedalos.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull chewed a blade of grass. Perhaps gulls, like dogs, eat grass when they have indigestion.

The Little Grebe was in the Italian Garden fountain as usual. Its three Tufted Duck companions were dozing, so it was fishing on its own.

After five unsuccessful dives it came up with something which looks like an insect larva.

This is one of three dark Mallard drakes with white bibs, probably siblings, which have been on the lake for several years.

A fine picture by Duncan Campbell of a Canada Goose taking off ...

... and a beautiful shot from Finland by Jukka Tiipana of a Pygmy Owl, looking annoyed because he interrupted it in its efforts to catch a mouse. These tiny birds, the size of Starlings, are never seen in Britain.

Saturday 28 January 2023

Redwings in the trees

The Redwings had moved from the Parade Ground to some trees near the Speke obelisk.

You can hear their pleasant mild chatter.

A Starling ate an apple that someone had put on the railings for the Rose-Ringed Parakeets.

The Robin at the Henry Moore sculpture is now a regular customer.

I also managed to feed one near the obelisk for the first time. It must have seen me feeding the Great Tits here.

There was a Grey Heron back on the nest which they started rebuilding and then abandoned late last year. The herons here can go on with this stop-start nesting for months and not actually breed till summer.

A Common Gull stood on the edge of the lake below.

The Little Grebe and a Tufted Duck in the Italian Garden were being shadowed by a Black-Headed Gull.

Both the grebe and the ducks were catching things on the surface and I got a lucky shot showing an insect, though I can't identify it.

I've been looking for the little white Ross's Goose on the Serpentine that Jenna saw on Tuesday night, but didn't find it till today.

These North American geese were originally brought over as ornamental park birds, but there is now a small feral population.

The dominant swans on the Long Water were at the Vista. The female peevishly pecked at a Gadwall.

There were five Shovellers near Peter Pan, apparently recently arrived though I saw a couple on the Round Pond a few days ago. They don't seem to like the park much ...

... unlike Regent's Park, where Elizabeth photographed a flock a few days ago.

There is a place on the Serpentine Road near the Cavalry Monument where people dance on skates at weekends. It's always worth watching.

Friday 27 January 2023

Redwings arrive on the Parade Ground

The Redwings have now arrived to dig up worms on the grass ruined by the Wasteland, as they do every year. Most of the grass dies, but the worms survive and are easier to find on bare ground. The newly arrived birds are very shy and keep their distance, but in a week or two they will be more approachable.

A visit to the blossoming bushes in the Flower Walk found the tatty Blue Tit in the wintersweet ...

... and the male Chaffinch in the paperbush. The flowers are still in bud but will be yellow when they come out.

None of the Coal Tits would stay still for long enough to photograph here, but I got one in the corkscrew hazel.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits worked its way along the Rose Garden.

The Robin at the Henry Moore sculpture is now coming to my hand. It collected six pine nuts.

A Carrion Crow took advantage of floods on the Vista to have a bathe.

The Diana fountain has now recovered from the mysterious Unpredicted Issue and the water is running again. A crow came to drink, scooping up a beakful of water and throwing its head back to swallow it. All drinking birds have to do this except pigeons, which seem to be able to do something clever with their tongues that allows them to suck up water from the surface.

A Feral Pigeon at the Lido restaurant was enthusiastically slurping up mayonnaise from a pot of coleslaw.

The Black-Headed Gull EZ73323 was at his usual post.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden, deserted by the Gadwall pair with which it used to feed, is now accompanying a group of three Tufted Ducks. They are getting on better than they did yesterday, when the ducks were puzzled by the tiny newcomer. The grebe can't work as closely with them as it did with the Gadwalls, as they are all diving birds and need a certain amount of space to avoid collisions.

They are having a hard time from the Black-Headed Gulls trying to grab whatever they catch.

The dominant Mute Swans, having completed a clearout of the Long Water, came over to the Vista to tout for food.

But when I got round to the other side of the lake, some swans were already trying to sneak under the bridge. Maintaining a territory is a full-time job.

In the Rose Garden, a rash daffodil had come out too early.

There are still some flowers on one of the mahonia bushes, and a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee was making the most of them.