Friday, 11 January 2013
Great excitement today as it was confirmed that there were two Bearded Tits in the reed bed below the Diana fountain. I hurried to the spot and there they were, climbing around and eating the seeds off the reed heads.
They were not shy, unlike Reed Warblers which are very hard to photograph. It helped that there was a flower bed between them and the path, which obliged humans to keep a respectful distance from them. Both were female, and had aluminium rings on their right leg, which I couldn't read as they were much too small.
This is the first sighting of Bearded Tits not only in the park, but in inner London. The number of species seen in the park since records began in 1889 now stands at 196, not counting subspecies. Perhaps it will reach a round 200 before I drop off the twig.
The male Tawny Owl was in the top of his nest tree. A Peregrine flew over the Serpentine, presumably one of the pair from the Metropole Hilton tower in the Edgware Road. I also saw the lone Barnacle Goose on the Serpentine, and one of the hybrid ducks -- the same one again, which I think is a Pochard--Tufted Duck cross. It has always been near the upper end of the Long Water when I have seen it.
The youngest Great Crested Grebe was busily fishing at the lower end of the Serpentine.
And a pair of Wood Pigeons were undeterred by the cold weather.
Their numbers in the park, and in the country as a whole, are increasing rapidly, and no wonder if they behave like this even on a chilly January day.
Note: in his fine photographs posted on the London Bird Club Wiki, Tony Duckett calls today's bird a Bearded Reedling. Both Bearded Reedling and Bearded Tit are common names for this bird, but the former is perhaps more correct, since the bird does not belong to the true tit family, Paridae. Its status puzzles ornithologists, who have assigned the bird, Panurus biarmicus, to a family of its own, the Panuridae. The Long-Tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus, is also not in the true tit family and, with the Bushtits, belongs to the family Aegithalidae. Recently some true tits have been moved to different genera: the Blue Tit has been taken out of the main tit genus Parus, and is now Cyanistes caeruleus; so has the Coal Tit, which is now Periparus ater. In fact, this corner of taxonomy is a bit of a mess.