Thursday, 11 July 2013

Many of the horse chestnut trees in the park are badly infected by the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner Moth, Cameraria ohridella. The larvae of the insect make a mess of the leaves, as you can see from this picture, but they also also provide a feast for insect-eating birds. Here a female Great Tit is collecting them to feed her young.

You can see that the adult, left, is female, because she has a narrow zigzag black stripe down her front. The young bird has a shorter, indefinite black stripe which, depending on its sex, will either become like hers or broad and straight if it is a male.

You would think that Coots would eat almost anything, but this young one is definitely off greens. It picked up a strand of algae and spat it out at once.

Moorhens love walking along narrow, difficult places, clinging on with their long, strong toes. This one was playing at knocking Black-Headed Gulls of their perches. It would advance briskly up the chain until the gull simply had to move to avoid being pushed off. I saw it do this three times in a couple of minutes. Gulls love displacing other gulls from their perches, but the Moorhen was beating them at their own game.

These young Greylags have reached almost adult size but, as you can see from the one on the right, have not yet grown their flight feathers.

Most of the adult Greylags are still in mid-moult and no more capable of flight than the young ones; but today, for the first time this year, I saw two adults that did have a full set of new flight feathers and were celebrating it by flying from one end of the Long Water to the other.


  1. How were the tits able to extract the caterpillars from the leaves? Can they use a spare foot like a goldfinch? Jim, north London

    1. They were hanging on to the leaf stems and reaching down. I don't think they were using their feet to seize caterpillars, thought tits do use their feet to hold larger good items against a twig when pecking at them.