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.


  1. I would never of imagined a Black-Headed Gull having the skill and practiced technique to catch moving fish! I gotta say I do admire and respect any bird that has the ability to capture a fish in water! Amazing stuff.

    Seeing the Starlings mesmerising colours reflected in the suns lights is a kind of fuzzy dazed warm feeling to me.
    Sean 😃

  2. What a fascinating video of the young Moorhen. It's almost as if it's running not swimming.
    Do you think the young Grebes are catching anything, even if they are still being fed?

    1. When a Moorhen walks it clenches its toes parallel when moving its foot forward, to avoid catching its enormous foot on its other leg. This means that when swimming with the same action it creates less drag when moving the foot forward than it does moving it back with the toes spread out. So it manages to propel itself. It's inefficient, but in practice it gets them along fairly quickly. If they need to hurry they can use their wings.

      I think the young grebes must be catching things occasionally, but increasingly. I have seen slightly older grebes catching small fish in the shallow water at the edge of the lake.

  3. Lovely shot of the iridescent Starling.

    Have to say I don't think the bumblebee is a Tree Bumblebee but it is very worn. My impression is a very tatty Common Carder Bee. I've probably only seen a couple of Tree Bumblebees this year. I get the feeling they're becoming more common further north.

    I also think the dronefly species is one of the smaller ones-my moneys on Eristalis arbustorum as the face would appear plain, but not the greatest angle to conclusively rule out E. nemorum.