Thursday 30 November 2023

Robins everywhere

One of the Magpies at the Triangle returned to the nest it used in the spring. But it was no longer interested in it as a nest: it's full of insects which the bird picked out.

There were Robins everywhere. This one was singing in a bush in the Rose Garden. I was lucky to get a momentary interval in the hideous Christmas songs blasting out from the loudspeakers in the Winter Wasteland.

It was answered by one on the edge of the garden.

The Robin by the Henry Moore sculpture waited for me to put pine nuts on the railings.

Another was singing high in a holly tree by the bridge.

Although it was very cold, the sunshine brought the male Little Owl at the Round Pond out on a branch of the dead tree.

He would have had to go in by the hole at the back, as there was a Jackdaw at the upper entrance which he generally uses. I don't think Jackdaws bother Little Owls particularly, although the other corvids attack them.

The Grey Wagtail was in its favourite place under a bush at the end of the Lido restaurant terrace.

Immediately after I took this picture it was bounced by the pair of Pied Wagtails which were flying up and down the edge of the lake. The female caught yet another unidentifiable larva -- it looks as if half of it has already been eaten.

Readers sometimes say that they hardly ever see a Jay in the park. If you feed them you see a lot. This is a picture by Julia, who does feed them.

Viewers of my YouTube channel often ask me whether the famous pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull is still around. Yes, he is, seen today eating his latest kill in the usual place by the Dell restaurant. Gulls can live to over 30, so he's still in his prime.

A Common Gull stood on the old cast-iron water level indicator on the opposite side of the lake.

Although there was a frost last night, the Long Water hadn't frozen yet. Tonight is colder and it probably will. But the Great Crested Grebe family from the bridge were still in place today. The male was by the reed bed opposite Peter Pan, being harassed by two Black-Headed Gulls that wanted to grab any fish he caught.

One of the young ones could be seen resting in the middle of the water.

However, there were no grebes on the Serpentine that I could see. That means that the youngest one was already capable of flying, and the family have flown up the river. There are grebes from Chiswick all the way upstream.

A Coot was reclining on the pavement in the Italian Garden. I thought it might have an injured leg, but when I approached it got up and walked away quite normally, so it was just having a rest.

A pair of Egyptian Geese at the Serpentine outflow stood one up, one down, nattering to each other.

A fox has dug an earth under the gum tree by the bandstand lavatories in Hyde Park. The gardeners will not be pleased.

Theodore reports seeing the Peregrine pair in the Cromwell Road this afternoon. I saw a Peregrine on the Knightsbridge Barracks at 12.30. So it seems that there really are two pairs, unless the one in the park made a sudden dash.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

It's my pigeon, get your own

The male Peregrine on the Knightsbridge Barracks didn't get a share when his mate was ripping up a Feral Pigeon beside him on the ledge. But there are lots of pigeons and he can catch one for himself whenever he likes.

A female Pied Wagtail dashed about on the edge of the lake looking for larvae.

She found yet another kind of small wiggly creature.

A Robin in the Rose Garden was hunting under a bush.

The one by the Henry Moore sculpture came out on the railings.

A Wren perched in a bush near the Speke obelisk.

There were many hungry Great Tits in the Flower Walk. This one was among the lurid purple fruits of a beautyberry bush.

A Wood Pigeon checked a flower bed in the Rose Garden for edible leaves. While they will eat almost any kind of berry, ripe or unripe, they seem quite fussy about leaves and mostly prefer wild plants such as dandelion and clover. I've seen them really go for heuchera, but that's only in the summer borders.

A Feral Pigeon at the Dell restaurant found a pot that had contained coleslaw and was enjoying the remaining mayonnaise, a firm favourite with many species of bird.

There was a distant and obstructed view of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker at the leaf yard.

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond was staying in her hole when I went by ...

... but Julia found the male owl out on the dead tree, in one of his favourite places outside the hole in the end of the big branch, and got an excellent picture.

There were lots of Jackdaws there when I visited.

A young Magpie has become a regular scavenger at the Lido restaurant. Mark Williams photographed it there yesterday, and today I saw it rummaging in a bin, though it flew away before I could take a picture.

The dominant Black-Headed Gull was literally at his post on the landing stage.

Yellow 2F12 was also visible. I reported it earlier and found that it had been ringed on the seafront at Westcliff in Essex in February, and had later been seen in Regent's Park.

Not one of those exciting histories. But I met Alan Gibson, and he had seen a Black-Headed Gull ringed in Croatia, the first time he's found one from that country.

Shovellers mooched around in autumn reflections on the Long Water.

This is the young Mute Swan whose mother rescued it from being massacred by the killer swan on the Long Water and walked it up to the Round Pond. We were worried that it was growing slowly, but it's now full size and seems in good health. It was still with its mother.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Three's a crowd

A pair of Black-Headed Gulls took a little walk together, calling companionably.

When a third gull intruded the result was discord, though it didn't come to a fight.

It takes a while for Herring Gulls to grow up. This one is in its third year. It now has an adult's yellow eyes but still some remnants of tweedy juvenile plumage.

The Little Owl at the Round Pond was briefly visible in the morning but disappeared before I could get a picture. It took two more visits before she would pose for her portrait.

A Wren struck a grand attitude in the Dell.

The Robin near the Henry Moore statue is now coming out to collect pine nuts from the railings.

The solitary Grey Wagtail was at the Lido.

A Blue Tit looked for larvae in an oak at the southwest corner of the bridge.

A Jay emerged in the shrubbery, hoping for a peanut.

A Magpie in the next tree ...

... and a Jackdaw at the leaf yard had the same thing on their mind.

Cormorants took a rest from fishing under the waterspouts on the edge of the Italian Garden.

The youngest Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine, still being fed by its parents, was given one fish but was disappointed when the next one was for the parent.

It soothed its feelings with a preen.

These are only a few of the many Pochards on the Long Water, plus three Gadwalls to the right of centre.

One of them came close to the edge at the Vista.

Still no report of Waxwings in the London area. This is Tom's picture of a flock of 45 of them at Costessey in Norfolk.

Monday 27 November 2023

Hoping for Waxwings soon

A nasty wet day. Sheltering from a heavy shower in the Queen's Temple, I zoomed in on a Carrion Crow poking around for worms in the wet grass.

A Magpie stood on an urn in the Italian Garden.

Surprisingly, the Little Owl at the Round Pond was at the front of the hole. She was beginning to get wet, so probably went back in soon.

A male Chaffinch perched on a tree in the Rose Garden shrubbery ...

... and one of the Robins was on a bush, singing occasionally.

The Pied Wagtail pair were on the Lido restaurant terrace again. No humans were present except me, so they had a clear ground to hunt in.

The male, on the edge, caught a small larva, not one of the straight white kind they're often seen with. A study of the places where they feed might yield an interesting variety of creatures.

Two pigeons of identical colour at the Triangle car park. Feral Pigeons do seem to prefer mates of their own colour, but these two may just be siblings.

The old Grey Heron was fishing under the waterspouts at the edge of the Italian Garden.

Another was on the boat hire platform waiting for a fish to emerge from the shadows. They can reach down to the water from here without losing their balance.

The Black-Headed Gull EZ73323 was on his usual sign, with the lights of the Winter Wasteland and a line of blue pedalos adding a bit of colour to the background.

This very dark Great Crested Grebe seems to have arrived on the Serpentine recently. Perhaps he left a smaller pond the night before last when there was a frost, as grebes dread being trapped in ice without a stretch of clear water for their long takeoff run. These dark birds seem to stay the same colour all year round. I think they may get darker with age but am not at all sure about that.

The Moorhen pair in the Dell poked about in the wet grass for any small creature they could dig out, and found the grass quite tasty too.

This is the pair at the Vista, who have been breeding here for several years.

The lawn by the Dell turns into a swamp when it rains, and carelessly driving a tractor over it leaves deep muddy ruts. Egyptian Geese, like many birds, seem to actually prefer drinking from muddy puddles rather than the fairly clean water in the lake. Maybe it's like tea to them, or maybe the borehole water in the lake tastes nasty -- I'm certainly not going to try it.

Another Mute Swan has been badly hit by the pink infection caused by people feeding them mouldy bread. This young female was at Fisherman's Keep. The previous pink swan, which was in a bad way with damaged feathers, has been taken to the Swan Sanctuary to recover, and it looks as if this one is going to need the same treatment.

Clearing dead plants from the Flower Walk has exposed this hole. It's too small for a fox. Can some rabbits have survived the foxes and outbreaks of myxomatosis?

Tom was at Costessey in Norfolk, where he got this excellent picture of a Waxwing eating rowan berries.

Waxwings are moving down from the north, and he reports that some have been seen in Hemel Hempstead. We might get them in London soon, but almost certainly not in the park, where there is a sad shortage of berry trees. I've only seen them once here, in the spring eating leaf buds on a poplar.