Sunday, 25 June 2017

Half a dozen House Martins were hunting insects over the Long Water. This isn't a place they usually go, since their nests are in the embassy beyond the far end of the Serpentine, and in Kensington Palace, but they follow the insects wherever they go. This picture was taken looking down from the bridge.

The Great Tits are still feeding their young in the bushes beside the Long Water. The mother seemed tired of being chased by her clamorous brood. They will be self-sufficient soon.

Other food was on offer. The young Grey Heron that hangs around the Dell restaurant had won a piece of pizza.

And a young Moorhen on the raft had somehow got a whole small chocolate chip cookie. It was having difficulty in pecking bits out of it.

Adult and juvenile Starlings waited on the roof of the Lido restaurant for a diner to leave a table so that they could swoop down and devour the scraps.

A pair of Coots nesting in a hidden place under the platform of Bluebird Boats, were feeding six brand new chicks.

A lone Egyptian gosling, the last of its brood, browsed on algae on the edge of the Serpentine. This slimy stuff is quite nutritious, and Mute Swans grow to a huge size on a diet largely consisting of it.

The swan family that have moved on to the Long Water were under the willow tree near the bridge, hidden from the angry resident swans eager to chase them away.

A Greylag and two Canada Geese rushed around at the island in the odd way that geese have when they are moulting. The Greylag has already regrown its flight feathers.

The Mandarin family sailed past the Vista. When they young are grown to full size you can still tell them from female adults, as their wings are shorter.

The young Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine preened his new wing feathers.

There seems to be a second grebe nest under construction on the island, at the east end facing the shore, as far as can be seen behind the wire baskets of water plants. There will be serious territorial disputes, as it is only a few yards from the first nest.

A Robin in the grass near Queen's Gate was looking very dishevelled, perhaps as a result of nesting.

The female Little Owl was on one of her favourite branches in the chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

A Banded Demoiselle fly perched on a clump of reeds in the Italian Garden.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

One of the young Grey Wagtails was running along the shore of the Serpentine. Young birds are much less shy than adults, and it went by me inches from my feet.

It was picking small yellow-green larvae out of the detritus on the edge of the water.

The young Great Crested Grebe was fishing busily in the middle of the lake.

There are certainly plenty of small fish to be found. The grebes on the Long Water were constantly bringing them to their chicks.

The Little Grebes were in the same part of the lake. Both these views were shot from the bridge, at some distance.

The Egyptian Geese were at the Vista. They have managed to hang on to six goslings, but these are still small and vulnerable.

The Mallard at Peter Pan was down to two ducklings. She was standing over them protectively on an abandoned Coot nest.

The two young Mandarins are teenagers now, and will be able to fly soon. They look almost exactly like their mother, who is on the right of this picture.

A Mute Swan on the Serpentine was quite pointlessly threatening two Coots which were not particularly near her cygnets.

The Coot nesting near the bridge still has her four eggs.

She lost several of her first clutch, possibly rolling them out of the nest deliberately because they were infertile.

A young Moorhen was running around the terrace of the Lido restaurant, looking for food under the tables.

There are young Magpies everywhere begging for food from their parents.

The number of Magpies in the park is rising fast -- good for them, but bad news for smaller birds.

At least they were too busy with their young to bother the female Little Owl, who was out on a branch all day.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The young Great Crested Grebe was fishing near the island. It is beginning to grow flight feathers, and has the first sign of a black crest. It will keep its stripy head until the end of the year and then grow adult plumage, though it won't have the full magnificent headgear for another year.

Its father was nearby fishing under the pedalos, where fish like to lurk in the shade

At the nest in the fallen poplar on the Long Water, it was time to do a bit of housekeeping. Grebes' soggy nests slump slowly into the water, and have to be continually built up to keep them afloat.

The Little Grebes were calling to each other near the bridge, but disappeared into a reed bed before I could get up on to the bridge for a closer shot.

The intruding Mute Swan was back on the Long Water tearing up reeds to make a nest, which has also made it more visible.

The dominant female passing the reed bed with her cygnets must have seen it, but didn't intervene, and the male seemed to be leaving it alone too. Is he losing his grip on his territory? Over the years he has fought hard to retain it, surviving a dog attack and the loss of his first mate to a fox, and it seems unlikely that he would give up easily.

Inevitably, the Mallard has lost more ducklings to the gulls. She crossed in front of Peter Pan with three, and prudently hid them in the bushes on the other side.

But on the way she was chased by two drakes, and had to fly off and desert her young for a minute. Luckily they were right at the edge at the time, out of the reach of swooping gulls.

There was a surprise visit to the gravel bank by five male Pochards. The resident population is only three, or perhaps two now as I haven't seen the spare male for some time. Normally Pochards are winter migrants. Probably these ones have come from another park.

A Moorhen was feeding a chick next to the reed bed by the bridge.

At the far end of the Serpentine, a Greylag Goose reached up for a reed to chew.

In the shrubbery near the bridge, a young Magpie was pestering a parent for food.

On the shore below, a male Feral Pigeon was courting a female, billing and cooing and trotting round and round her until she was sufficiently bewildered to let him mate.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard came out on her branch for a short time, but it was windy and there were Magpies about, so she soon went back into her hole.

A rabbit was resting in the shade of the Henry Moore sculpture, but a Grey Heron landed on top of it and the rabbit dashed for cover.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

There is a new Egyptian Goose family on the Long Water. They were on the gravel bank at the Vista with eight goslings.

This is probably the pair that have bred once already this year and lost all their brood in a few days -- not the notoriously incompetent pair that have been trying to breed here for years, but still not skilled at parenthood.

The dominant Mute Swans were also on the gravel with their cygnets when another swan with four cygnets came under the bridge on to the Long Water.

I didn't wait to see the male dominant swan get off the bank and chase off the intruders. But he seems to have got rid of the swan that tried to nest in the reed bed yesterday.

The Mandarin family went past the bank. Only two ducklings are left, but they are now quite large and likely to survive.

There are still five Mallard ducklings on the Long Water. They were at Peter Pan, playing around a post on which their mother was preening.

The young Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine was fishing near the island.

The new grebe family were on the east side of the Long Water, where overhanging bushes provide excellent cover. Their mother arrived with a small fish for one of the chicks.

On the other side near the bridge, a Moorhen was feeding two chicks in a nest in the reed bed.

Two cygnets were preening on one of the plant rafts at the east end of the Serpentine -- not that there are many plants left here, as these have been ripped up by their parents. The raft is pitching up and down in the waves, giving an odd impression that the ground is moving.

One of the young Grey Wagtails was taking advantage of a brief sunny spell to bask in a flower bed at the Lido restaurant.

The other was on the shore by the restaurant terrace. Spilt food makes this an excellent place for the insects they eat.

The Blue Tits are moulting, and looking very tatty.

A young Jackdaw was being fed by its parent near the Italian Garden.

Jackdaws are breeding well here now, and their numbers are going up noticeably.

One of the young Carrion Crows on Buck Hill was being given a peanut.

A young Magpie in the Dell was begging for food from a parent.

There was no sign of the Little Owls, despite three visits to their chestnut tree. But there is some news about the Tawny Owls. Paul has heard them calling in a group of chestnut trees and one tall lime tree a few yards southwest of the Italian Garden, on the west side of the path that leads to the Physical Energy statue. He actually saw one fly over his head late one evening. Here is a sound recording he made of the male owl calling.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A pair of Little Grebes could be heard calling on the Long Water, but they remained hidden in the bushes. Eventually they came into sight a long way off.

They must be new arrivals, since their call is loud and distinctive and we'd have heard it they'd been here earlier.

Looking for them unexpectedly revealed a pair of Great Crested Grebes with three chicks, again far off on the far side of the lake. They clustered round their father ...

... until one of them sped off because it had seen its mother coming with a small fish.

This is not the pair of grebes nesting in the fallen poplar. They were there too, with one on the nest.

The Mute Swan family glided down the Long Water.

But behind them there was another surprise: another swan was making a nest in a reed bed.

The male of the first family was away chasing some intruding swans back under the bridge, and hadn't yet noticed the invasion of his territory. But there will have been trouble when he did.

A Mallard on the Long Water had five new ducklings. She was wisely keeping them next to the spiked railings at one end of the Peter Pan foreshore, so that gulls couldn't swoop on them.

But there were ten Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the posts, and she will have a job keeping her brood alive.

A Tufted Duck stood proudly in the middle of a group of Greylag Geese on the Serpentine.

He is still in his breeding plumage, though all the other drakes are losing their smart white sides and going into eclipse.

The pale Greylag snatched a piece of bread from the beak of another goose and made off at high speed to avoid retaliation.

The young Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine was taking time off from fishing and having a preen.

One of the Coot chicks from the nest on a post at the island was being fed.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was on the prowl and almost caught another victim, but he relaxed at the wrong moment and the pigeon flew free.

One of the young Grey Wagtails was on the edge of the lake at the Lido restaurant.

The white-faced Blackbird was on the fence every time I went past, expecting a treat of sultanas. Of course she always gets some.

It's almost time to buy another 500 gram packet of sultanas.

A Jay swooped down to the leaf yard fence to take a peanut. They have practised this manoeuvre and got it down to a fraction of a second.

The female Little Owl was a few yards away in her usual chestnut tree.