Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Both the Little Owls near the leaf yard were visible today. The male was in his favourite place in the nest tree, for once not being bothered by Magpies and Jackdaws.

The female was calling from the top of big oak tree where she has been for three days. A good deal of rushing around on the ground looking through gaps produced an unobstructed view.

The yew tree near Peter Pan is full of berries and doing good business, with Blackbirds flying in and out.

Tom took this picture of the Song Thrush in the same tree yesterday.

There was a large gathering of Starlings in one of the olive trees at the Lido.

The trees are much too young to produce olives, but I am told that the big old olive tree in the Chelsea Physic Garden bears fruit in spite of the English climate.

A Dunnock came out from underneath a bush in the Rose Garden with a small grub it had caught.

A Carrion Crow was bathing in the basin of the marble fountain in the Italian Garden.

Because Shovellers look slightly like Mallards, one is inclined to overestimate their size. Here are some on the Long Water beside two Tufted Ducks, and you can see that there is little difference.

The young Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant played idly with a dead leaf while it waited for a chance to grab some leftovers.

A Herring Gull on the Long Water was brandishing a little tuft of feathers. I think it must have pulled them out of some bird in a fight.

This is an Essex gull. When I first saw it on 5 October, its yellow plastic ring hinted at an exotic origin, but when I reported it, it turned out to have been ringed in Basildon, and that was the first time it had been seen since then, having travelled just 32 miles.

The people at Bluebird Boats are escalating their battle to scare the gulls off their pedalos. The plastic owl has been called back into service, and is being motored up and down the lake, which makes its wings flap in a vaguely realistic way. But I don't think the gulls are terribly frightened.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

There were at least thirty people feeding the Rose-Ringed Parakeets at the leaf yard -- it's half term and they are bringing their children. Things are beginning to get a bit out of hand. The parakeets are turning quite aggressive if not promptly fed, and often biting people.

These children had found a good way of not being bitten, by putting a small pear on a stick.

Some parakeets were clustering around a large hole in a tree. Perhaps they will be using it as a winter shelter.

Another was in a yew bush eating berries.

The crowd had also attracted eight Jackdaws hoping for food. Two were looking very decorative on a maple tree going into its brilliant autumn red.

The others, unfortunately, were all over the Little Owls' chestnut trees, and had already chased one of them into the hole when I arrived. Later the female owl called from the oak tree where she was yesterday, but it was impossible to see her.

Both Nuthatches ...

... and both Coal Tits were coming down to take food from the leaf yard fence.

A few Goldfinches could be heard twittering in the treetops. There are never very many in the park for some reason, although they are commonly seen in the streets around. Tom got a good picture of one in a holly tree.

On Buck Hill a Jay was pecking open a spiky chestnut seed case.

The young Grey Heron was on a plant raft next to the Dell restaurant. Although the fence around the raft is almost two feet tall, it could reach down to the water to have a drink.

The white Mallard, his mate, and the drake that is now part of the ménage à trois cruised past.

One of the teenage Mute Swans is very aggressive even by swan standards. Here it is shooing off an adult which must have had a much higher rank in the social order.

The arbutus flowers attracted a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee. Evidently they contain useful amounts of nectar, and that is why the parakeets were eating them yesterday, preferring them to the insipid fruit.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Rose-Ringed Parakeets may now be common, but their behaviour is often interesting. Three of them were on a gas lamp post on the edge of the Dell. The glass of all these lamps has been newly cleaned, and the birds were staring at their reduced reflection in the convex glass. These intelligent birds may have actually recognised that the reflection was of themselves, and its smaller size made it particularly interesting.

Behind them in the Dell, several parakeets were in an arbutus tree, There were ripe 'strawberries' on the tree, and they are edible -- people sometimes make boring tasteless jam with them. However, the birds preferred the flowers which this odd tree bears at the same time as its fruit.

Over Buck Hill, a flock of Parakeets was mobbing a Herring Gull. The chase went on for several minutes.

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were doing brisk business, with several Mistle Thrushes ...

... and Blackbirds eating the berries.

In a hawthorn at the foot of the hill, a Blue Tit was waiting to be fed.

The days when Jackdaws fled at your approach are long gone. Now they come out in front of you and stare at you with their beautiful silvery eyes until you give them a peanut.

The female Little Owl called from a big oak tree at the southwest corner of the leaf yard.

Regular visitors to the park will know this tree as the one where you often see Treecreepers.

Two Mute Swans on the Serpentine were giving a display of synchronised flying.

A female Shoveller came over to the edge of the Vista.

A young Black-Headed Gull was playing with a mineral water bottle which had fallen off the balcony of the Dell restaurant.

Two adults on the edge of the Serpentine were trying to dominate each other.

Sorry that the picture below is bad. The Black-Headed Gull flew away immediately and I could only get two pictures of it among a crowd of Feral Pigeons. But its colour ring shows it to be from Germany.

Looking it up on the ring reporting site showed that it was from Itzehoe in Schleswig-Holstein, near the Danish border, a town immortalised in the old song about Dr Eisenbarth, who killed all his patients and boasted triumphantly that he had remedied their pain.
Der Schulmeister von Itzehoe
     Wide wide witt bumm bumm.
Litt dreißig Jahr an Diarrhöe,
     Wide wide witt bumm bumm.
Ich gab ihm cremor tart'ri ein,
     Wide wide witt juchhairassa,
Er ging zu seinen Vätern ein,
     Wide wide witt bumm bumm!

My translation:

The schoolmaster of Itzehoe
     Vidda vidda vit, boom boom.
For thirty years had diarrhoea,
     Vidda vidda vit, boom boom.
A cream of tartar enema,
      Vidda vidda vit, and tra la la,
And now he's gone to meet his Pa.
      Vidda vidda vit, boom boom.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

One of the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial was calling from an oak tree.

There was no sign of the pair near the leaf yard. The leaves are thinning on the chestnut trees, so probably they will soon be spending their days inside the yard where there is better cover, but it's almost impossible to get a picture.

In the leaf yard, the pair of Nuthatches are still putting on a good show.

A Coal Tit looked around very carefully before coming down for food.

They are so tiny that even Blue Tits shove them out of the way.

There was a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the leaf yard. There was a branch in the way when I tried to photograph it, but Tom was well placed to get this good picture.

Tom also found a Redwing in Hyde Park just across the West Carriage Drive from Buck Hill. Probably this is the first to be photographed in the park this season.

A Goldcrest was calling near Queen's Gate, and just managed to get a dim picture of it hopping around in the dark interior of a bush.

There was a female Gadwall on the Long Water, the first seen for some time. They come and go apparently at random, and I think our small population is shared with Buckingham Palace Gardens, where nest boxes have been built for them.  They have never bred in the park, as far as I know.

This Canada Goose has a white ring round each eye that make it look as if it were wearing spectacles. There is a fair amount of variation in the head pattern of these geese.

The Mute Swan that keeps turning up in the Lido restaurant was there again.

I thought it was being chased ashore by another swan, but this is the third time that it has visited and now I think it's actually going there by choice to try to get food from the visitors.

The young Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant had won a dry bit of pizza crust and was dunking it to make it easier to swallow.

A Herring Gull was carrying a leaf, and another was chasing it to steal this worthless object. There are lots of dead leaves to pick up, but it's the thrill of stealing that appeals to these birds.

A Lesser Black-Backed Gull's yellow bill and feet blended harmoniously with the dead leaves at the Lido restaurant. By the way, this is not the pigeon killer, whose legs are brighter yellow. He also has a circle of little black dots on the iris of each eye.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

You shouldn't interrupt a Shoveller when it's shovelling. This Pochard tried to cut through a group ...

... but two of them set on it, and it crash-dived to escape.

Black-Headed Gulls were neatly lined up on the buoys at the Lido, except for one nonconformist on the left.

A young Herring Gull and a Black-Headed Gull were hovering, ready to dive on a piece of bread that was about to be thrown.

An Egyptian Goose was washing furiously.

A Feral Pigeon in the Rose Garden had just finished its bath, and emerged soaking wet.

Also in the Rose Garden, a Carrion Crow ...

... and a squirrel were rooting in a freshly dug flower bed.

The crow was looking for worms and grubs, and found them. The squirrel was digging for bulbs, and didn't find them because the gardeners had carefully removed every plant before putting in new ones.

The Nuthatches came down to feed on the leaf yard railings, where several people were lined up to photograph them. They have stopped being bothered by this.

The female Little Owl was in the chestnut tree -- on the other side of the tree from the usual one, and it would have been easy to miss her, but luckily Tom spotted her.

A Blue Tit was lower in the same tree, waiting to be fed.

This is one of the reliefs in the Italian Garden. The Victorians had a very different attitude from ours to firearms in the hands of children. They have bagged a pheasant.