Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Taking London by storm

Today saw an epic gathering of RSPB forumites - 12 of us altogether - at Regent's Park. I guess it was more of a social thing than a birding thing. Very enjoyable, anyway, lovely weather and great company, good photo opportunities, and we did have a birding bonus among the common stuff (though not, sadly, the Yellow-browed Warbler reported here two days ago).

We met at York Bridge and while waiting for everyone to arrive I took a few photos. That smooth green background to this Moorhen pic? That's the lake. It has a bit of an algae problem at its eastern end.

A squirrel, or as the forum calls them, a Cyril. This Grey Squirrel was among an assorted horde of wildlife thronging a gentleman who had brought a wide selection of foodstuffs in several carrier bags and was distributing it to said wildlife with enthusiasm (right in front of the sign asking him not to).

Egyptian Goose, caught in the act of utilising its nictitating membrane.

Magpie, not quite as happy to be approached very very closely.

Cyril again. This one was assidiously burying the nuts it was being given in a patch of undergrowth, but another squirrel was watching, and promptly dug up and carried away each nut shortly afterwards.

Not many birds were on the algae-covered part of the lake, though there were a couple of Pochards and also a couple of Tufties.

A bit further along, the algae was starting to thin out and we found a small group of Little Grebes.

Close to the next bridge we found a flock of Long-tailed Tits, plus this Great Tit, and I spent a while searching through in search of something else (especially a Yellow-browed Warbler) but without success.

On the large wedge of grass that's usually covered in deckchairs and wing-clipped geese was this Carrion Crow, which had a voice like a ringtone.

Also in that area was this intriguing Herring Gull - an adult or almost adult by its plumage, but with very dark eyes.

We took the Inner Circle path around to the cricket ground area, finding a Jay on the way. It looks very small against those ridiculous huge leaves.

The next area, a swathe of open mown grass, was a bit I didn't know about, but among our number was a chap with much local gen, who had already spent some time that morning watching Wheatears there. He also pointed out a patch of scrub that had recently hosted both Stonechats and Whinchats - none today, sadly. There were, though, two corking Wheatears out in the field, alternating feeding sessions on the ground with staring-at-the-birders sessions on top of a square of wooden fencing.

Two gorgeous and very approachable Wheatears. Birds of the day by quite a margin.

Next we went on to the viewpoint over the arm of the lake that's home to the exotica - a range of ornamental wildfowl including Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, Ross's Geese, Ruddy Shelducks - you get the general idea.

None of these rubber duckies was really close enough for worthwhile photos, but there was a very accommodating Migrant Hawker patrolling the near shore of the lake.

OK, a couple of the plastic ducks - just because I like Smews, and I liked the thing that these Smews were sitting on.

A bit of time on the bridge here was spent trying to get flight pics of Black-headed Gulls.

I didn't manage to get any good shots of the nice first-winter birds in flight, but here's one splashing down.

A distant Grey Wagtail was picking its way along the boulders that line the island here.

We paused for a sit-down in a wooded spot shortly after this. I thought I heard a Goldcrest and went looking for it, but couldn't find it. So instead I took a pic of the pretty marbled bark of a hefty old London Plane tree.

We then crossed the Inner Circle (gosh!) and had a look at the small lake next to the rose gardens. This lake used to have another ornamental duck collection on it, and was the location of a vagrant Lesser Scaup which I and my colleagues twitched back when I worked in London. Today, though, it was pretty much birdless. We did find a couple of Common Darters soaking up the rays on the handrails.

We finished off with a slow walk around the loop between York Bridge and the next bridge down.

Grey Herons are very much a feature of the park in general and this bit of it in particular. Because they are so approachable, it's very easy to get photos.

Also here were quite a few Mallards. I was very drawn to this female's exposed speculum - gorgeous colour. The drake here ploughing through the algae was one of only a few that were still deeply entrenched in eclipse plumage - most were back in glorious technicolour.

A couple of far-away flyovers - Ring-necked Parakeet and Shoveler. The parakeet was a 'tick' for one of our number, who lives outside the UK's 'parakeet zone', so I include this not-great photo for her to see.

By contrast, here's a too-close photo of a Greylag's neck and back plumage.

And a very dusky hybrid goose. I guess it is Canada x Greylag, it was the right size for this combination and too big to have involved a second Branta species.

This is the last bird of the day, and it's one I'm pleased to include because I don't think it's something I've shown in the blog before (or at least not a good view of one) - a nice unambiguous juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. Look at those beautiful dark tertials and tell me you don't love gulls.

Thanks to all my forum pals for a great day out, and I hope we can all do it again sometime soon :)


Shane said...

Hi Marianne, great report and pics it was good to have got out with you again and this time with many more forumites.


Bob Telford said...

Looks like you all had a good day for a meeting and a reasonable selection of birds. I have never seen one of teh |Parakeets before but will keep my eyes peeled next time I make it to the big city.