Wednesday, 2 January 2013

An hour in the park

After spending New Year's Eve with friends in south-west London, my route home took me through central London so I spent a bit of time in St James's Park. It was a sunnyish afternoon, though I'd left things a bit late and the sun was low enough that most of the lake was in shadow. There were no remarkable birds to see (unless you count the not-wild ones) but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Here are two of the SJP pelicans. I'm not too well up on my pelicans but I think the pinky-billed one is a Great White and the yellow-billed one an American White. They were fishing together at the eastern corner of the lake, though they mainly seemed to be catching leaves.

Nearby, a drake Wigeon. Part of the captive collection but he makes it into the blog because I caught him in the middle of a 'wheeeee-ooo'. There were also several Fulvous Whistling Ducks here - I'm sure the collection only had one of these last time I visited it, so either that one has cloned itself or a few more have been thrown over the fence.

There are lots of captive geese here, including Ross's, Hawaiian, Bar-headed and Barnacle, and a few funny hybrids too. However, I think this Canada is leucistic rather than a hybrid with a White-front or something, though I could be wrong.

On the bridge, someone was throwing bread for the Black-headed Gulls to catch. The gulls made a catch every time, but I didn't quite manage to catch them doing their catching.

This park is full of very assertive Grey Squirrels, which will climb up you to check for snacks, and reject most offerings that don't meet their high standards - bread, for example, isn't good enough for them. I noticed this squirrel rolling vigorously about on the grass, seemingly wrestling with several sticks.

It was actually trying to strip bark off the bigger stick, and finally succeeded. I guess the bark was needed to provide a nice cosy lining for its drey.

By the cafe, loads of Coots and gulls were swarming around scrounging food from passers-by. I tried to get a shot that isolated one Coot among the melee and ended up with this frankly disturbing image. This seems a good place to drop in a factoid I learned recently - Coots sort out their dominance hierarchy by the relative size of their facial shields. They all look  pretty similar to me... maybe they do to the Coots too and that's why they're always attacking each other.

That's pretty much it, really. I'll close with a freak photo of two in-focus flying birds at the same time (sorry they're only Feral Pigeons) and a young Herring Gull looking regal, obviously aware it's in a Royal park.

ETA - just thought I'd add one more pic. This is a White-fronted x Bar-headed Goose hybrid (I am almost sure that's what it is anyway). I photographed this same bird back in 2009 so it's nice to see it again.


Warren Baker said...

That stripping Squirrel made me laugh marianne :-)

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Me too , I thought at first that it had been 'spatchcocked' .
Perfect timing on the Wigeon .

Julie Hargreaves said...

Great set of photos

Early Worm said...

Nice shots!
I was just wondering if you could hep me identify some Mushroom species I came across recently? I'm not very good with Flora!
I think there are 4 species that I can't ID, the first I am positive is Jew's Ear.