Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard had a clash with a Magpie and retreated into his hole. The Magpie followed and insolently peered into the hole.

After it had gone, the owl emerged, looking quite calm. It's all part of an owl's life.

The rescued young Grey Heron flew down from its usual place on the raft into the Dell for a bit of fishing in the stream.

It was surrounded by the usual rubbish. I do hope it will have the sense to avoid this, especially the Coca-Cola can. A couple of years ago a goose got a ring-pull can stuck on its bill.

Two young Great Crested Grebes were fishing together on the Serpentine, breaking off occasionally to practise their head-shaking greeting ritual.

Their father looked on, relieved at being left in peace after the long labour of feeding them.

A Greylag Goose was having a very energetic wash.

At the Dell restaurant, someone was feeding the Mute Swans curry and rice out of a spoon. The swans seemed happy with this. It certainly saves you from getting bitten.

A gust of wind gave a young Moorhen a Marilyn Monroe moment.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate was eating a freshly caught victim.

The male gull was some way along the shore by himself, looking for another pigeon. Usually he shares his kills with his mate, but wouldn't give her a whole pigeon. I wonder whether she caught it herself. I have seen her having a go at this.

A Wood Pigeon was eating hawthorn berries at the foot of Buck Hill.

A Starling at the Lido restaurant decided to head south.

The two Nuthatches came down to take seeds from the railings of the leaf yard.

A clump of amaryllis has unexpectedly emerged at the corner of the Dell. A bee was rolling around in one of the flowers, as if intoxicated by the nectar.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The young Grey Heron that was rescued yesterday was in the same place on the reed raft, idly stretching a wing. Its feathers were properly preened and it was looking fit and well.

This heron on the Long Water near the Italian Garden often stands in the water looking ashore, an odd reversal of a heron's usual behaviour. Possibly it is hoping for a rat to pass by in the brambles.

A Carrion Crow on Buck Hill did have a rat, though it's not clear how it got it. The rat looked quite fresh.

A Magpie was eating the remains of a Canada Goose on the Serpentine island. The goose seems to have been considerably torn up, which raises the disturbing possibility that foxes are now swimming to the island. It isn't far for a fox to swim, but so far it seems to have been a safe place for waterfowl to rest and nest.

Another Magpie was giving a Little Owl near the leaf yard a hard time.

A few years ago on the Serpentine there was an odd couple of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull, and this may be them again. They were both holding bits of leaf, and I think this was a bonding ritual rather than play.

Then they called loud and long to each other. They are certainly mates.

This Black-Headed Gull with a white plastic ring 28P1 was on the Serpentine on 20 December last year as a juvenile. Now it's come back. Some of our Black-Headed Gulls come from as far away as Finland, but when I reported the ring I found that this one was hatched in Reading, so it hasn't had far to travel.

There was another Black-Headed Gull here on the 18th with a yellow ring 2PSN. Both were ringed by the North Thames Gull Group, so probably it's equally local. Will report both, but don't expect exciting news.

The three young Mute Swans on the Long Water have bcome quite independent, roaming around without their parents, But they haven't been thrown out yet, and the family came together when they saw someone feeding the birds at the Vista.

The young ones haven't made a successful flight yet. It takes a lot of practice before they can keep their balance in the air.

There was a brief glimpse of the young Grey Wagtail on the little plank bridge in the Dell. It was hatched in a nest under this bridge.

A male Ring-Necked Parakeet was eating hawthorn berries at the bottom of Buck Hill.

A Robin was singing very quietly to itself in a yew tree beside the Long Water.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Excellent news: the young Grey Heron which had its beak caught in a bit of plastic mesh has been released. It came ashore near Bluebird Boats, and Mateusz managed to catch it in a net. With a bit of help he disentangled the mesh, and the bird was soon released. This video was taken by an onlooker.

Later I saw it on one of the reed rafts at the east end of the lake, with its feathers still ruffled but looking perfectly calm -- I don't think herons are capable of looking happy.

This is the thing that was caught on the heron's beak, a nylon net which had contained a ball. The knob is where the cardboard label was. Carelessly dropped in the lake, it became a deadly trap.

Over its five-day ordeal, the heron had been coming quite close to people, almost as if it sensed that they could help, but it panicked when anyone made a move. Mateusz was able to catch it not only because he had a suitable net (which has to be hastily mended before it was used), but because the bird was on the other side of a barrier left over from the swimming event, and thought that this kept humans at a safe distance.

After that, everything else was an anticlimax. Both the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate and the Lesser Black-Back with pale legs were having a go at pigeons, without success while I was there. The second gull had to be content with a bit of bread it stole from a goose.

One of the Moorhens in the Dell sprinted along the edge carrying a leaf ...

... and plunged into the stream and added it to the latest nest.

The four chicks trotted around on the bank.

The white Mallard was preening his shining feathers at the Lido restaurant.

But he was outdone in splendour by a Starling on the railings.

A heavy shower brought up worms, and a lot of Blackbirds came out in the Flower Walk to dig them up. This is an immature male who has not yet developed his yellow bill and eye ring.

A Mistle Thrush was pulling out wireworms under a tree near the Dell. It looked very dark in the shade, and at first I thought it was a Song Thrush, but the pattern of the spots on its front is unmistakable.

A Magpie was exploring a puddle, in which it found several unidentifiable tiny creatures among the dead leaves.

Both the Little Owls near the leaf yard were in the chestnut tree next to the nest tree. But both of them were in places where it was impossible to get a reasonable picture. Later the female owl flew over to the nest tree and posed obligingly.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Great Crested Grebes were racing all over the Long Water. Two were having a territorial dispute.

A chick was chasing its parent to take a fish.

This is the parent's-eye view of a chick arriving at full speed.

But a Black-Headed Gull refused to shift off its post when another one tried to knock it off.

The dominant male Mute Swan on the Long Water was having a flap. His new flight feathers are coming along, but not yet fully grown.

A newly arrived Black Swan was seen on Saturday both at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, and on Barn Elms Playing Fields nearby (see the London Bird Club Wiki). Could it be our friend from the park?

The young Grey Heron is still not free of the plastic tangled around its bill. Despite four days' starvation it can still fly, and had come up to one of the reed rafts off the Lido restaurant terrace, tantalisingly just out of reach of the people who were longing to help it. But it was looking tired and listless.

Later it flew down to its usual place on the little stream in the Dell. As I left, the heroic Malcolm was on his way from Richmond Park for yet another attempt to catch it.

The Moorhens have rebuilt their fifth temporary nest, which the heron trampled in his fury yesterday. One of the chicks was standing on it.

The feeder in the Rose Garden attracted a Coal Tit and a Chaffinch.

The pair of Nuthatches in the leaf yard came down to take seeds from the railings. One paused in a typical Nuthatch gravity-defying pose.

A Carrion Crow near the Albert Memorial sidled up expecting a peanut, which of course was provided.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was in her nest tree.

A party of volunteers were digging holes in Buck Hill and putting in vertical stacks of tree branches. The idea is that these will rot and provide a home for insects.

The Mistle Thrushes will be pleased.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The first Shovellers have returned, rather early this year. There were three on the Long Water. This is an immature drake.

There has also been an arrival of about 30 Pochards, mostly male. The sexes migrate separately, drakes first.

About the same number of Red-Crested Pochards were on the Long Water. But these are not migrants: they come in from Regent's Park at any time, and go back again as they please.

There is some kind of swimming event on the Serpentine which has caused a big disturbance. It brought the Canada--Bar-Headed hybrid goose over to the south shore.

The adult Great Crested Grebes are not bothered by human swimmers -- they can do this so much better. They are fading into their plain winter plumage.

They are also moulting their flight feathers, which in those that have bred have been damaged by being used as a playpen for the chicks. They will be able to fly again by the time frosty weather is possible, so they can move to the river if they need to, The young ones will also be airworthy by then (as far as a Great Crested Grebe is -- flight is not really their thing).

The Moorhens in the Dell were building a fifth nest.

But the poor young Grey Heron, still with the bit of plastic stuck to its bill, hungry and angry, came over and stamped it to bits.

It seems that it will have to wait until it is too weak to escape, and then Malcolm will get the plastic off and it may pull through. At least it can drink, and was doing so while I watched.

A visit to the Rose Garden revealed nothing but a Robin in a rose bush, ticking irritably at the weekend crowds.

Two young Wood Pigeons in the leaf yard were idly hassling a parent on a branch.

The female Little Owl was in the nest tree.

Three Jackdaws arrived and perched challengingly near, but she took no notice and after a while they flew away.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden looked at me quizzically before coming out for a bit of biscuit.