Saturday, 21 October 2017

It was a windy day.

After the exotic creatures at Rainham yesterday, we're back to the ordinary birds in the park.

All the Great Crested Grebes have left except for the family with three teenage chicks, which aren't quite old enough to fly yet.

Grebes often move to the Thames when frosty weather is coming, but it is unusual for them to be disturbed by a gale.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull had caught a pigeon and was eating it, watched by an envious Carrion Crow.

He had evidently eaten his fill, because he swam away and left the remains to the crow.

When I came back later, two crows were sharing the last bits without quarrelling, an unusual sight. They must have been mates.

The second pigeon-killing gull, at the other end of the Serpentine, staked out out a territory on land and water and in the air by swaggering around it, shooing other gulls away, and calling. The upward jerk of the head signifies 'Don't mess with me.'

A young Black-Headed Gull played with a dead leaf.

A Cormorant landed on the last unoccupied post in front Peter Pan.

There was a Cormorant in the middle of the Serpentine which seemed to have caught a fish and picked up some algae with it. This often happens, and the Cormorants are adept at separating the fish from the weed. But this one seemed to be taking a very long time, so I took a very distant photograph. You can see that the fish has come up tangled in a bit of plastic netting.

This stuff is a serious pollutant. It nearly killed the Grey Heron at the east end of the lake when the bird got its beak stuck in a bit of netting, and had to be netted to get it off. I've published this video on the blog already, but no harm in seeing it again.

The Black Swan was shooed away by the dominant Mute Swan at the west end of the Serpentine. But he is no fun to chase, as he just dodges out of the way and comes back immediately.

So the big bully went after another swan, and had a satisfying chase right down the lake.

A Goldcrest jumped on to a twig in a bush beside the Long Water.

A Nuthatch looked out of the yew tree on the corner of the leaf yard, waiting to come down and take food from the railings.

Friday, 20 October 2017

A quick trip around the park before going to Rainham Marshes.

A Jackdaw pecked a peanut open on a much repaired swan-headed urn.

The Black Swan hurried over for his daily treat.

Two Grey Herons flying along the Serpentine climbed almost vertically to clear the bridge.

They could perfectly well have flown under it, but many birds dislike flying when there is something solid overhead.

At Rainham, the star of the show was a Spoonbill.

It flew around ...

... while an equally white Little Egret flew in the opposite direction.

A flock of Black-Tailed Godwits was also in the air.

And so were Shelducks, among a flock of Canada Geese.

Some Teal were preening.

A Ruff poked around in the mud next to a Lapwing.

Pied Wagtails are more at home on the mud than on the tarmac in Hyde Park.

A pair of Stonechats appeared, hard to see behind the reeds, but Tom got a good picture of the female.

There was a pair of Marsh Harriers. The female ranged widely over the reserve.

A male Kestrel hovered.

A female perched in a bush.

One of the Barn Owls was distantly visible looking out of the nest box.

A splendid cock Pheasant visited the bird table.

A small Marsh Frog lurked in a pool.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant caught and released a perch several times before deciding that it was too large to swallow. Perch have spiny dorsal fins and have to be swallowed head first, and you can see the heron trying to turn it round before giving up.

It ruffled its feathers in frustration.

On the other hand, the Black Swan's ruffled feathers are an ornament. They need careful preening.

Three teenage Mute Swans were also preening on the edge of the Serpentine. This is actually a brood of four, and the odd one had wandered off to join another four teenagers, who were with their parents. A few weeks ago this would have resulted in the intruder being angrily ejected, but now the parents have lost interest in their young, so they let it stay. The young swans will hang around their parents until the next nesting season.

The three Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge have had so much attention recently that we've overlooked the older ones from the nest on the island. Here is one, looking almost like an adult in winter plumage but retaining faint traces of stripes.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull crept up to these Feral Pigeons on the roof of the Dell restaurant, but they stood their ground, knowing that they were safe if they stayed alert, and could simply drop off the edge if threatened. Perhaps his yawn expressed frustration.

Another Lesser Black-Back was eating something on the gravel bank in the Long Water. I thought this was pigeon killer number two, but the photograph shows that it's a different gull, and has found a dead fish.

Some Magpies were interested in a rubbish bin near the Rose Garden, but didn't seem to be going into it as they usually do. A closer look showed that the bin had been sealed off by putting a bag over the top (for some reason that makes sense to park keepers) and that rainwater had collected in the top, making a convenient drinking pool.

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were visisted by a Blackbird ...

... and a Rose-Ringed Parakeet.

We've had a video before of a Starling singing on one of the little ornamental conifers at the Lido restaurant, but this one was so bold that he allowed himself to be filmed in close-up.

There are miniature buckets on the tables containing dying cactuses. Evidently this one was infested with insects, as a Starling was probing it carefully.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was perched outside her hole, fluffed up with annoyance because she had just been chased off her favourite branch by a Magpie.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

It rained for most of the morning. A Robin in the Rose Garden was looking wet and bedraggled.

A Magpie had had enough, and was sheltering under a table at the Lido restaurant.

But the weather didn't stop a Wren from singing on a twig near the Dell, where there is a colony of them.

At the bottom of the Dell waterfall, a pair of Blackbirds didn't feel wet enough, and decided to go bathing.

A Cormorant perversely tried to dry its wings in the rain.

When there are no people to feed the mob of Rose-Ringed Parakeets at the leaf yard, they go down on to the ground and eat dandelion leaves.

A young Black-Headed Gull scratched its chin.

The three young Great Crested Grebes have now started fishing for themselves, although their parents are still feeding them. One of them actually caught something, but I missed filming it. Between dives they practised the grebe head-shaking salute.

They were near the island, way out of their territory. One of the pair of adults from the island postured threateningly at them, but didn't go beyond that, as they are young and stripy and allowed a certain latitude.

The Black Swan sauntered over, rain-spattered but as elegant as ever.

A pair of Mallards were interested in something in a hole in the concrete edge of the Serpentine.

The white Mallard reached up for a tasty leaf on one of the rafts of water plants.

More Shovellers have arrived on the Long Water. I could see ten in all.

This is the first rabbit I've seen for months at the Henry Moore sculpture. They have had a terrible year. However, fresh droppings on the hill above show that there are still several of them.