Monday, 31 October 2016

There can be no doubt that the Lesser Black-Backed Gull with pale pinkish legs is now killing pigeons for itself, rather than scavenging the leftovers of the notorious gull. Today near the Dell restaurant it was just beginning to eat its latest victim.

There is an enormous eruption of Harlequin ladybirds in Kensington Gardens. You can't walk through without them constantly landing on you.

Some of them seem to be preparing to hibernate in the Queen's Temple.

A Grey Heron on a tree just across the path looked down at one as it flew by.

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were full of birds eating the fruit. There were the usual Mistle Thrushes ...

... and Blackbirds.

When they have picked the fruit, they toss it backwards to swallow it, which allows them to eat a lot in a short time.

Starlings were sharing the feast.

And a female Chaffinch was chewing off and discarding the pulp of the fruit and swallowing the pips.

Rowan 'berries' are not really berries. They are pomes, with the same internal plan as an apple or a rose hip, and have multiple pips rather than a stone. All three species belong to the rose family, Rosaceae.

One of the resident Magpies surveyed the scene from a treetop.

The Coal Tits in the leaf yard were coming down to feed.

But on a warm day, the Nuthatches were finding enough insects for themselves and weren't interested in our offerings.

A Treecreeper was at work on a nearby ash tree.

They use their tail as a support when climbing, which makes the feathers become very frayed.

At the edge of the waterfall in the Dell, a Moorhen was turning over leaves in the hope of finding something edible underneath.

The number of Cormorants has fallen considerably as they have exhausted the medium-sized fish, but there were still a couple on the fallen horse chestnut tree near Peter Pan.

A Greylag Goose came down on the Serpentine, waterskiing on its feet to soften the impact.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were looking wildly colourful despite the dull weather, and it was impossible not to take more pictures of birds eating the fruit. Here are a Song Thrush ...

... and a couple of Starlings.

The usual Mistle Thrushes were there too, but for a change here is one in a more unusual place, enjoying a bath in the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall.

There were at least four Blackbirds eating berries in the yew tree near Peter Pan.

The brilliant pink bush at the bridge had Great Tit in it, though she was not interested in the bush and was waiting for me to feed her.

Justyna C. suggested that this might be a spindle tree, and cerrainly the leaves are the right shape but, as you can see from this less zoomed-in picture, they hang down in little clusters and there are no berries, so I think it's something different -- but have no idea what.

A final picture of birds and fruit: a Robin in a rose bush in the Rose Garden.

The young Grey Heron at the restaurant was grabbing bits of cake that were being thrown for it.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate was having her turn at the latest kill.

A Herring Gull at the Lido was shaking out its wing feathers to get them properly arranged after preening.

A Coot was having a brisk wash.

There were few people in the Diana fountain, leaving the way clear for some Greylag Geese to drink in the rapids.

The carefully filtered water must get so aerated on its way found the obstacle course that it's slightly fizzy. Anyway, it's a favourite drinking place for all kinds of birds.

One of the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial was looking out of their nest hole in the oak tree.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

If you put out nuts to attract Nuthatches ...

... you get a lot of other takers, such as Jackdaws ...

... and Jays.

A Great Tit paused to pick out a bit of dead wood to see if there were any insects under it.

When the Rose-Ringed Parakeets arrive and start brawling, it's time to move on.

This one was eating rowan berries in the tree on Buck Hill. They are well camouflaged in summer when they match the leaves but, as the leaves change colour, they become more visible.

In winter, they are absurdly conspicuous. They are Indian birds, not adapted to life in deciduous trees, which require the quiet colours and disruptive spots of a thrush

In the same tree, a Blackbird had a long reach to pick some ripe berries.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was looking for insects in a dead tree at the bottom of the hill.

A Coal Tit looked out from an absurdly pink bush.

The male Tufted Ducks are now back in their smart breeding plumage.

A Great Crested Grebe was finding plenty of perch next to the Italian Garden.

The Cormorants have stopped fishing in this place, as there are not enough fish to satisfy them. But grebes are more precise operators, and can find fish where the headlong charge of a Cormorant fails.

A Lesser Black-Backed Gull was finishing off the mangled corpse of a pigeon from which the pigeon-killing gull and his mate had eaten their fill. The pigeon killer was looking on from the Dell restaurant roof, happily sated and not inclined to interfere.

The young Grey Heron was waiting for scraps from the restaurant terrace, lucky that the notice doesn't apply to it.

Friday, 28 October 2016

While we were feeding Nuthatches ...

... and Coal Tits ...

... at the leaf yard, the female Little Owl called from the big oak tree, and we got a few seconds' glimpse of her before she flew down into an invisible place. There was no time to find an angle where there wasn't a twig in front of her.

She is getting harder to see now, but at least she hasn't yet disappeared into the leaf yard.

At least the Mistle Thrushes on Buck Hill remain reliably visible, and there are still plenty of rowan berries to tempt them.

There were more picking up worms on the grass.

A Robin in the Flower Walk called to me and shuffled around impatiently while I took a few pictures. Then it flew on to my hand and perched there for a minute, stuffing itself with pine nuts and sunflower hearts.

Robins are not usually as bold as this, but a lot of people feed them in the Flower Walk and they have become quite confident.

The gardeners have put in a lot or new ornamental plants in the Dell, and one of the Moorhens was exploring them to see whether there were any worms in the freshly dug soil.

There were a lot of Cormorants around the island, occupying most of the wooden posts and dotted around the shore.

I haven't seen one catching a fish for some time, and think they are close to exhausting the supply, and will soon give up and return to the river.

A pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls hanging around the Lido look very like the pigeon killer and his mate.

The male, shown here, is quite large and his legs are almost as deep a yellow as those of the notorious bird. But you can tell them apart because this one's eyes are a uniform yellow-green, and the pigeon killer's eyes have a ring of  black spots on the iris.

The subject came up recently of how faithful returning Black-Headed Gulls are to their favourite spots. This gull, EX63684, has been coming back to exactly the same place on the edge of the Serpentine, to within ten feet, for seven years since it was ringed by Roy Sanderson.

It has a companion, EX63686, ringed on the same day, which also comes back to this place. When I reported a different gull with a Dutch ring to its ringer, he said that during its summers in Holland it always perched on on the same electricity pylon.

A skein of Greylags blasted down the hill from the Parade Ground to the Serpentine.

The dominant Mute Swan on the Long Water was in a foul mood, and busked around looking for a fight. The other swans have learnt their lesson, and kept to a safe distance.

The white Mallard was having a flap, revealing that his wings are still white although the rest of him has gone an odd pale yellow.