Wednesday 27 September 2023

Autumn leaves

Carrion Crows perched among the turning leaves of a plane tree. Autumn is properly here, and the temperature is dropping.

A crow flew up to the Lido restaurant roof with part of a food wrapper which must have had something tasty stuck to the back.

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond was in the horse chestnut tree. This was the only owl I could find today.

Both Peregrines were on the barracks tower, with the female on the left. They seem to be getting more relaxed in each other's company. I'm sure that if the Household Cavalry could be persuaded to put a nest tray of the ledge that they would breed next year.

A young Blackbird perched among the feathery leaves of the Water Fir in the Dell.

A Robin in the Flower Walk had flown into the cover of the corkscrew hazel bush and was uttering the warning call meaning that there was a predator overhead. Small songbirds understand and share this call.

When I put up the picture of the Starlings on the archangels on the Albert Memorial on Monday, Theodore commented that he'd seen one perched on one of their hands. And as I was passing today, that's what I saw too.

The pump that supplies water to the top level of the waterfall in the Dell is working again, and a Wood Pigeon was drinking from the pool at the top.

But all is not well in the stream at the foot of the waterfall. Without the pump, which has been out of action for months waiting for a spare part, the flow through the stream is so sluggish that the water has become covered with stinking algae. With luck and colder weather these should be cleared by the renewed flow.

One of the Great Crested Grebe chicks from the nest at the bridge used a foot to preen the parts it couldn't do with its bill.

One of the young Moorhens in the Italian Garden was exploring the water lilies.

A Mute Swan descended on to the Serpentine ...

... and made a splashy touchdown. Like other web-footed birds they use their feet as waterskis to cushion the impact, but swans are so heavy that they break the surface almost at once.

A Shoveller drake could be seen at the island -- not a place they usually go, preferring the calm of the Long Water.

A few days ago Ahmet Amerikali told me that he had seen a Hummingbird Hawkmoth browsing on the flowers in the Italian Garden. It wouldn't stop and he didn't get a picture of it. Today the same moth whirred past me, and I spent half an hour trying to get a picture also without success. However, I did find a Painted Lady butterfly drinking from a Zinnia ...

... and also a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee ...

... and another one on a Calico Aster.

The picturesque but impractical cluster of bird boxes which was part of an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery has been taken down, and in its place a grim gaunt structure is going up. At first sight it looks like a dead tree, then you see that its surface seems to be made of rough slate. But this too is an illusion: it's glass fibre on a steel frame, which you can see through the access panels that allow it to be bolted together.


  1. The brotherhood is strong with the small song birds.
    Sean :))

    1. But not entirely. Great Tits will 'cry wolf' with the universal alarm call to scare rivals or other species away from feeding stations. And given the chance they will kill other small songbirds and small bats, to eat their brains. Jim

  2. I've given up on trying to understand what gets and doesn't get put up as exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery. It's all so random.
    Anyone with even an ounce of poetry in their bodies would feel moved to compose a haiku inspired by that amazing first picture of the two crows. Alas that I don't have a single milligram, let alone an ounce.
    Now I wonder which of the Archangels the Starling has chosen for its perch. An intriguing conundrum.

    1. Fortuitously, you are supposed to mention the season in a haiku. Keeping it simple:

      Two crows on a branch.
      The leaves are turning yellow,
      For autumn is here.

      I don't think I want to understand what drives the people at the Serpentine Gallery. I would go mad, well, madder than I am now.

      I looked up the link between archangels and compass points. Uriel is north, Michael is south, Raphael is east, Gabriel is west. So the Starling is on Rapahel's right hand.

      The archangels are also associated with the four elements: Uriel is earth, Michael is fire, Raphael is air, Gabriel is water.

    2. You never disappoint!

    3. "You never disappoint!" Seconded. Joe

    4. Thank you both for your kind words.

  3. I don't know how much I like the new statue. Well done on finding the Starlings! I am still going to look for the Shoveler.

  4. There are quite a few Shovellers now. More likely to see one on the Long Water than the Serpentine.