Saturday 30 September 2023

Little but majestic

A Robin sang quietly to itself in the corkscrew hazel bush in the Flower Walk.

A Long-Tailed Tit stared from a tree in the Dell.

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond looked down from the top of the horse chestnut tree. It seems odd that any creature so small should be so majestic, but Queen Victoria was only 4 feet 11 inches tall.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was lying down after another heavy meal.

A Black-Headed Gull had won a bit of bread and was having some difficulty swallowing it.

It was service as usual for the Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Serpentine.

There's another teenage Mute Swan on the Round Pond, bringing the total of young up to three. I think this is the new arrival, but it's hard to be sure.

The young cygnet that was actually hatched in the park is in the foreground here, with the other teenager.

The swan in the Italian Garden had a wash under a fountain.

Six Shoveller drakes rested on the gravel strip in the Long Water, in various stages of coming out of eclipse. There were two others farther along the strip.

The Michaelmas daisies in the Rose Garden were alive with bees, mostly Honeybees ...

... and Buff-Tailed Bumblebees.

A Common Carder preferred the smaller flowers of Slender Vervain.

Tom sent a remarkable picture of our visit to Rainham Marshes on Thursday, a female Wheatear knocking another off her perch.

Joan Chatterley was at Rye Meads, where she photographed a Great Egret ...

... a Little Egret ...

... and a Water Vole.

Friday 29 September 2023

Black-Headed Gull catches a fish

A Starling at the Lido restaurant shone finely in the sunshine.

Birds don't usually eat salad but this salad has a lot of mayonnaise on it, and Starlings like that.

The bossy Robin the the Flower Walk ticked irritably at me because I was taking pictures instead of feeding him.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused in a hornbeam tree.

The only Little Owl visible today was the female at the Round Pond, in the place that both like in the horse chestnut tree.

You tend to think of Black-Headed Gulls purely as scavengers, but they do catch fish. This one was very proud of itself and strutted about with its catch, risking having it snatched by the other gulls, before swallowing it.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks from the island, the eldest on the lake, are now diving actively with their parents and learning the essential skills of fishing. But they're still being fed, and will be for some weeks.

A chick from the nest at the bridge ran for a fish ...

... but there was quite a lot of weed on it, which had to be shaken off.

The chick from the second nest on the island is growing steadily.

Coots in the Italian Garden were mildly surprised when a carp came up behind them.

The clear water in the fountains allows you to see how the young Moorhens swim with their unwebbed feet. It's much the same action as walking.

As more Shovellers arrive on the Long Water, a line of four drakes passed the gravel strip.

But we never now get the numbers seen two decades ago, when 50 was routine and one year there were 200. The creation of various wetland sanctuaries along the river has given them better places to go.

This bee on a dahlia is probably a very worn Common Carder that has lost most of its ginger fluff. I know the feeling. 

A Dronefly, one of the smaller Eristalis species, browsed on an oxeye daisy.

The orange patches on its abdomen look quite like the pollen bags of the worker Honeybee it mimics.

Another hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii, paused on a leaf much chewed by the larva of some other insect.

Afternoon at Rainham Marshes

The stars of the afternoon's visit to Rainham Marshes were three Wheatears on the river bank, though this video shows only two of them.

A Kingfisher put in an appearance on the reserve, though it remained distant ...

... but not as distant as the Barn Owl in its box, which you never see any closer than this in the daytime. You can just see its face in the centre of the picture.

A female Marsh Harrier passed over.

There was a reasonable view of a Cattle Egret, which I missed the last time I was there.

A Little Egret was scuffling its feet to stir up the fish, which you would think was the exact opposite of a successful technique, but it seems to work for Little Egrets.

A single Black-Tailed Godwit flew in.

There were plenty of Lapwings.

A Ruff wandered along the shore, probing the mud for edible creatures.

A Little Grebe preened and stretched.

There were several groups of Teal on the water.

A Shelduck investigated the mud at the edge of the river left by the falling tide.

A large green Marsh Frog looked up from a drainage ditch.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Morning visit -- more later

I had a quick morning visit to the park, not seeing anything very exciting, and went to Rainham Marshes in the afternoon. The Rainham pictures will be up later tonight.

There was a brisk south wind, but having a Carrion Crow on the arrow of the weathervane makes it swing about.

A Grey Heron at the island was looking a bit windswept.

But there were still people at the tables on the Lido restaurant terrace, and Starlings were waiting expectantly on the umbrellas.

A Blackbird foraged under the railings of the Rose Garden.

The Robin in the corkscrew hazel in the Flower Walk is a much more peaceful bird than the belligerent one at the Queen's Gate crossing, and allows other small birds to share the bush -- but not other Robins, of course, which must be kept out of its territory at all costs.

The male Little Owl at the Round Pond was in the horse chestnut tree ...

... and the male at the Serpentine Gallery was in the lime. I'm amazed that we have been able to see owls for such a long season.

The Peregrines were on the barracks tower. The male is on the left. You can see that there is less white on the side of his face, which is not a consequence of being male but simply because he's a dark bird.

Cormorants dried their wings on a fallen tree by Peter Pan.

The plaintive calls of the ten Great Crested Grebe chicks could be heard all over the lake.

This is one of the first family from the island, now with a noticeable black crest.

The Black Swan was resting on the edge of the Round Pond.

The Egyptians in the Italian Garden stood sentry on the urns.

The new family of foxes in the Dell, who came in to replace the ones abducted by the park management, are well settled into their new quarters and stroll confidently around, occasionally stopping for a scratch.

There are still a few Willow Emerald damselflies on the east side of the Long Water.

A Common Carder bee worked over a knapweed flower.