We went up Ruislip today. The Great-crested Grebes in full breeding plumage + we were delighted to see a heron on a nest with her partner adding twigs- the first recorded nesting at this site. A Little Egret was nearby. Small numbers of Shoveler, Gadwall + Pochaed with 3 Teal in the LNR.
Plenty of Great-spotted Woodpecker + we saw 5 Nuthatches.
A single Lesser Redpoll was feeding on a birch with a lone Goldfinch, though there were plenty of the latter elsewhere. The 20 or so Redwing will probably be off soon.
I was pleasantly surprised by a flock of c40 Chaffinch around the path as this species has declined a lot down here in the last few years so rarely see more than a couple. As we were leaving a Buzzard was circling.
Collard doves building a nest and magpies pinching their twigs, however the rooks are doing the very same thing only this time from their own kind, all done in the best possible taste of course making them my bird of the day.
Well I don't know what is up with the birds at the moment, got more birds than ever before all frantic for food. Siskins have arrived, the Goldfinch, which usually only appear when sunflower seeds are put out are on the feeders having barneys with the Siskins and Coal Tits and even some Sparrows have arrived. I have three feeding stations and having filled all the feeders in the morning by mid-afternoon they are all empty. Same goes for the Red Squirrels. I am amused by the couple of Pied Wagtails that arrived, they ignore all the other birds on the ground and continue to bob up and down among as they do battle. If they carry on at this rate they are going to bankrupt me.
Here in Gairloch the garden is full of chaffinches.
Every time I look at any of the feeders the chaffinches outnumber all other birds by a fair margin. A couple of days ago I counted 15 under one of the feeders.
In contrast the coal tits and siskins, which have been very numerous in the past, are in short supply now. I have read that siskins, now and again but not necessarily every year, just up and leave for the south in the winter. I don't think the coal tits migrate so I'm a bit puzzled by the small numbers, especially as this winter here has been quite mild.
Highlight of my day was going into town to St James Park where a family of Tawny Owls have been showing well. Early morning was beautiful with clear blue skies + I was treated to superb views of one of the adults + a fluffy youngster as big next to it on an outer branch of a London Plane. The flight feathers looked well developed but still fluffy around the head.
Then wandered through Green Park to Hyde Park + Kensington Gardens. On the Serpentine a pair of Great-crested Grebes were doing their synchronised head shaking display. By the bandstand a dozen Redwings were feeding on earthworms on the bare soil while a Great-spotted Woodpecker drummed above them.
With the help of the assistant ranger I was able to see the Stonechat in the meadow area which has been present for a week or so- a good bird for so far into central London. A bird I almost expect to see in Richmond Park + sometimes locally but not here,
Almost all the birds in these parks are so tame + even Ring-necked Parakeets are feeding on apples + nuts in tourists hands.
BOTD though definitely the stunning Tawny Owls- not an uncommon bird in London, but being a nocturnal species not an easy bird to see + see well.
Today we went up to Richmond Park where I did the final wildfowl count of the autumn/winter season. Duck numbers were low but high numbers of Common Gulls with Black-headed Gulls.
The weather was extremely blustery which didn't help with counting. One of the 2 pairs of Egyptian Geese at the Pen Ponds had a solitary small chick, the rest no doubt predated. The Heron nests on the island had some well grown youngsters-one nest had 3 large chicks sticking their heads + necks up.
My biggest surprise today was seeing a Cormorant on a nest as this species has never bred here before. In the autumn we had some large counts but most have dispersed as presumably fish stocks dwindled. Hopefully the pair will be successful. So for the first time I'll make Cormorant my BOTD!
Normally we seem to be losing breeding species such as Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (not even a single record last year) + Willow Warbler, though we gained Sand Martin a couple of years back + Buzzard has also started breeding in the park.
Yesterday morning I was standing at the bus stop at the top of the road, about 6.45, when I became aware of some sort of struggle in the air. It took me a few seconds to realise what was going on, but realised it was a Peregrine with a struggling bird in its talons. Eventually could work out it was a Feral Pigeon. The Peregrine must have been a female as it seemed huge by comparison.
The pigeon managed to wriggle free + then dropped like a stone into the edge of the allotments below. I'm not sure whether it would be able to survive?
Don't think anybody else at the bus stop was aware of the drama above them!
Been very blustery day here in London today but at least dry, but decided not to go far + we had a couple of strolls in the local park off the adjacent road, one soon after dawn + another mid-afternoon. This morning there were c100 Wood Pigeon feeding on the short turf but was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of Stock Doves with them. Though common on my patch a mile or so away, we only had our first sighting here last year when we saw a single bird a couple of times, so this was the first occasion we'd seen more than one here.
Most of the Black-headed + Common Gulls seem to have departed with just 8 of the former + 2 of latter. The few Herring Gulls are resident.
This afternoon we watched 13 Redwing feeding on earthworms + also saw 5 Mistle Thrushes. In recent months a couple of pairs of Jackdaws have taken up residence + watched one collect a twig so hopefully will breed this year. This species only used to occur as an occasional flyover. Often see 30+ on my patch.
Very early this morning a pair of Mallards busy mating on the pond - I do wonder that the males don't drown the poor females (actually I do know, saw it happen quite a few times on the Thames). This pair do visit here on and off, think they are rsidents on the River Fillan. Keep hoping they will next here.