Tuesday 31 October 2023

Eating at the restaurant

A noisy crowd of Starlings had descended on the Lido restaurant terrace to scavenge scraps.

The young Grey Heron was also here, and someone had given it a chip.

There are several Cetti's Warblers around the lake, hard to tell how many because they move around. I saw one yesterday near the Italian Garden, but as usual only for a moment and I didn't get a photograph. Ahmet Amerikali did better, getting a clear shot of one in the reed bed at the end of the Serpentine.

He also captured a Goldcrest unusually out in the open on a bramble near the bridge.

Jackdaws were waiting to be fed on the railings of the Diana fountain. They are constantly having to compete for food with Carrion Crows which bully them, and both these very intelligent birds are devising new tricks to outwit each other.

The Little Owl at the Round Pond was on her usual branch. It seems odd that she prefers the slanted branches of this fork when it would be more comfortable to perch on a horizontal branch, but this place gives her a good view.

The odd couple of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull called quietly to each other on the edge of the Serpentine.

The Lesser Black-Back has very bright yellow legs and is easily mistaken for the pigeon eater. The latter had finished his lunch and flown off, and a young Herring Gull was pecking at the remains.

Five Cormorants perched on the thin branches of their favourite tree on the island. I still have to see one landing in this difficult spot, and how one already on a branch manages to stay on when the arrival of another heavy bird make the branch thrash around.

The Moorhens in the Dell fed side by side.

Three of the five teenage cygnets of the dominant Mute Swan family preened on the edge of the Long Water.

These are the swans who nested on the Serpentine island. They were preening right next to the nest site of the murderous swan, who would have marmalised them if he had seen. But the family was away on the Long Water, and probably next year will use the artificial nesting island.

We don't know whether the single cygnet from the island survived. It was seen in early September, but then other young swans arrived and we lost track of it.

Two Shoveller drakes and a female cruised along the far side of the Long Water.

Another good picture by Ahmet: an Egyptian Goose enjoying a wash.

Some indulgent person had given a squirrel an expensive Brazil nut. You'd think that it might have had difficulty with the hard thick shell but no, one snap of those powerful jaws and razor teeth and it's through.

An almost spotless Harlequin Ladybird climbed up a notice board. It has the nickname Hallowe'en Bug in America, because this is when it appears in great numbers.

One of the Black Walnut trees next to the Dell was a brilliant yellow.

Monday 30 October 2023

Anything under the lichen?

A Starling was tearing lichen off a small lime tree beside the Serpentine to see if there were any insects underneath.

A poplar had a Great Tit on the same quest.

A Blue Tit in the Flower Walk wanted a pine nut, and wanted it now.

The dominant Robin perched haughtily after chasing all the tits out of his tree.

The Little Owl was back to her usual branch. She won't stay there when the leaves have fallen as they are beginning to, though this horse chestnut escaped the worst of the Leaf Miner attack.

I heard from the BTO: the Black-Headed Gull EZ73301 that has claimed a post near the Dell restaurant was indeed ringed by Bill Haines in 2016, as was EZ72233 on the post opposite.

All the orange plastic rings with codes beginning 2V are his too. 2V48 was near the island ...

... and 2V57 across the lake.

This is a special gull, as it was already given its metal in the Czech Republic, code ET05.589, in 2021 and Bill added thge plastic ring earlier this year. Most of the Black-Headed Gulls on the lake have never been farther afield than the Pitsea landfill site in Basildon, though we have three Polish gulls among our foreign visitors.

The Grey Heron at the Lido restaurant that was beginning to jump on to tables has disappeared, as herons that get too pushy tend to. Herons are a protected species, so it will have been grabbed and taken to a remote location -- or at least I hope so. But its place has already been taken by one of this year's young herons from a nest on the island.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes from the nest at the bridge confronted a Coot on the Long Water. It had just caught a fish, but I was too slow to get the shot.

Its parents relaxed by the bridge, their duty done till next summer.

Two female Pochards washed together on the Long Water. The Common Pochard is a Red-listed bird, and also has one of the most skewed sex ratios of any duck so that females are in short supply. However, the population in the park is doing well.

Several more Gadwalls have just arrived. The number in the park fluctuates at random as birds fly in and out of other London parks. There were two drakes and a female by the gravel strip on the Vista ...

... and another trio in the Italian Garden.

The long staying drake on the Serpentine was scolding a Tufted Duck.

A Tufted drake stared up from the waterfront at Peter Pan.

After a grey damp start it was quite warm, and there were Honeybees on a patch of salvia in the Rose Garden ...

... and a single Buff-Tailed Bumblebee.

A ginkgo tree in the Rose Garden has produced a large crop of fruit. The yellow drupes are the size of greengages and contain a single large seed. They have a disgusting sewagey smell and none of the birds seem to be eating them. I read that the seed is roasted and prized for its flavour, although it's quite toxic so that it's unwise to eat more than a few.

Sunday 29 October 2023

A dreich day

It drizzled constantly for most of the day, interspersed with heavier rain. You'd have expected the Little Owl at the Round Pond to be sheltering in her hole but no, she was out on the horse chestnut tree, partly sheltered by an overhanging branch. She looked sombre.

A Pied Wagtail ran around unconcernedly on the wet grass below ...

... but a Robin stayed in the dense cover of a lime tree.

A Blue Tit searched for insects in an oak.

A Magpie looked miserable as the rain intensified ...

... but a Jackdaw was easily cheered with a peanut.

A Grey Heron preened. Having slightly damp feathers helps.

Another combined shelter with fishing on the edge of a reed bed.

A pair of Herring Gulls, one of them looking too young to be courting, were making a non-stop racket on the edge of the Serpentine, ignoring other gulls that came by to see what the fuss was about. They were still at it as I walked away.

This post on the north side of the Serpentine is opposite the one owned by the Black-Headed Gull EZ73323. This gull is EZ73301, ringed here slightly earlier. I've reported it to see who is using these rings -- I think not Bill Haines, who has an EA series of rings.

Just when you think the number of Cormorants has peaked, more arrive. The fallen poplar in the Long Water had one on every available branch ...

... and the raft was also crowded with birds vainly trying to dry their wings in the drizzle.

A young Cormorant, still with a white front, preened on a post at Peter Pan.

A young Moorhen in the Italian Garden checked to see if the rain had brought up anything edible in a puddle.

A Shoveller in full breeding plumage on the Serpentine looked very fine in spite of the dim light. In fact they're hard to photograph well in sunlight, as the brilliant white feathers flare.

A patch of Honey Fungus in the shrubbery east of the Lido was pretty but sinister.

I was asked where the Big Bird statue is. You can see it on the right of this picture of the emerging colours around the Diana fountain. The deep red tree is a sweetgum, much planted for its autumn foliage.

Saturday 28 October 2023

The Goldcrests' yew tree

A Goldcrest was whizzing about in a yew tree next to the bridge. This tree is a permanent habitat for successive generations of Goldcrests, and they nest here every year.

The holly berries are ripe, to the delight of a Wood Pigeon which was gorging on them enthusiastically.

The Little Owl at the Round Pond was in the same tree as usual, but had moved to a branch where you could only see her from the side.

The female Peregrine was on the tower, fluffed up as she often is. I had supposed that this was what falconers call 'rousing', but see the comments below for a proper explanation of her behaviour.

Tom got a much better picture of a Peregrine hunting over Rainham Marshes. More of his pictures later.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had dined, and was lying on the roof of the Dell restaurant digesting yet another heavy meal.

His mate had had her share, and was on the shore yawning.

There was almost nothing left for the second-year gull which I speculated might be their offspring from last year.

A Grey Heron was fishing beside one of the small boathouses. This is a good spot: the brick walls are supported on concrete beams which extend down only just below water level, so there is a gap underneath. If a fish carelessly emerges from the inside of the boathouse it gets grabbed.

A pair of Egyptian Geese stood on top of the Little Owls' nest tree. Their racket must be trying for the owls when they are at home, for the tree is completely hollow and open at the top so that their raucous cries echo inside.

A female Gadwall was pulling up algae in the shallow water at the edge of the Lido.

There are three Gadwalls in the park at the moment. A drake was at Peter Pan ...

... and another was in the Italian Garden, where it has been for some time.

I don't think any of the three knows about the others' presence. They are sociable birds and don't stay alone by choice.

The patch of Baby Sage in the Rose Garden attracted just one Buff-Tailed Bumblebee. The weather is still mild, but I didn't see a Honeybee anywhere.

This is the red oak at the Vista where I have photographed vatrous birds. Conehead 54 thought it was a Pin Oak but couldn't be sure from pictures where the leaves were out of focus, so here's a close-up shot. PlantNet is pretty sure that it's a Pin Oak.

Now for some more pictures from Tom to brighten up a lacklustre day. A wonderful shot of a Short-Eared Owl at Wallasea near Rochford. If this were an aircraft in a steep banking turn the pilot would be tilted too, resisting the centrifugal force. But birds do things differently and keep their head horizontal.

And two fine pictures from the Lea Valley Park: a Bittern ...

... and a Water Rail.