Thursday, 20 July 2017

It seems than another Lesser Black-Backed Gull in the park is killing pigeons. This very dark one was beside the Round Pond. The usual pigeon-killer was a mile away at the far end of the Serpentine.

Two Carrion Crows were eating the remains of a pigeon a few yards away in front of Kensington Palace. Probably this is the leftovers from one or other of the gulls.

The brisk wind encouraged swans and geese to try out their newly regrown flight feathers.

The Black Swan was among them, and came down on the water right beside us.

The Egyptian Gosling that lies in the middle of the path seems to have learnt the habit from its mother. Neither was taking any notice of the runners who pounded past inches away.

The Mallard ducklings near the Lido continue their perilous existence. They were wandering around without their mother.

But the mother of the two at Peter Pan was guarding them closely, not surprisingly as there were a dozen Lesser Black-Backed Gulls only a few feet away. They are fairly safe if they stay close to the railings at the edge, as a long-winged gull needs room to swoop.

The Great Crested Grebe family from the island were out in the middle of the Serpentine.

The elder chick of these parents, now an independent teenager, spends much of its time lurking behind the baskets at the edge of the island.

A Coot was enjoying a jacuzzi above one of the air bubblers that are supposed to keep the lake water oxygenated.

House Martins were flying low over the Serpentine.

Three Mistle Thrushes were prospecting for worms on the Vista.

The young Great Tits are now independent. This one was searching for small larvae in the grass.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard stayed in her hole during the morning drizzle, but came out later during a brief sunny spell.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Black Swan continued the struggle with the dominant Mute Swan. He went on to the raft and started moving twigs as if starting a nest. But as soon as he saw the Mute Swan coming he got off and allowed himself to be chased up the lake, and the Mute Swan occupied the water in front of the raft.

These five young Greylag Geese are almost full grown, but can be told from the adult on the right by their pattern being made up of rounded individual feathers rather than formed into bars.

The Greylag with a white forehead and blue eyes cruised down the Serpentine.

The youngest Egyptian gosling has taken to lying in the middle of the path on the south shore, risking being trodden on as it is well camouflaged against the gravel. But as soon as a dog approached and its mother called it, it sprang up and trotted into the water.

The fallen tree nest to Peter Pan attracts a wide variety of birds. Today it had a Tufted Duck preening, and the Mallard with her two ducklings.

The Mallard ducklings on the Serpentine are still doing well, and now growing fast.

A Coot started to build a nest in a particularly silly place, the busiest corner of the boat hire platform.

The lake is loud with the begging calls of young Great Crested Grebes. These are the three from the Serpentine island.

One of the brood of three on the Long Water raced to collect a fish from its mother.

The single chick on the fallen poplar was also being fed.

The teenage grebe isn't easy to see, but two days ago I saw it fishing behind the baskets surrounding the island.

The Long-Tailed Tits haven't been much in evidence recently, so it was good to see a flock coming out of the Dell.

A Wood Pigeon hung upside down to eat elderberries in the leaf yard.

The Little Owl was in her usual tree, in a more visible place than usual.

There has been a definite sighting of a pair of Tawny Owls near Kensington Palace. Last night just before dusk they were calling from, and were seen in, a large oak tree just outside the southeast corner of the Sunken Garden. If you stand facing the palace at the statue of Queen Victoria and look to your right, it will be the nearest tree you see. I don't think they will be nesting in this tree, as it is quite young and doesn't seem to have any holes in it.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Great Crested Grebe family on the Serpentine are quite used to passing boats of all kinds. They can dive out of the way of an oar blade in an instant.

The parents are finding plenty of fish for the chicks.

The two Mallard ducklings on the Serpentine seem to bear a charmed life. They had the good sense to stay close to their mother as Herring Gulls circled overhead and Carrion Crows stood menacingly on the shore.

One of them dived and came up with a leaf stuck to its back.

The hopeless Egyptian Geese on the Long Water, who have never managed to raise a single gosling in twelve years, were making a fuss of each other at Peter Pan, and it looks as if they are about to produce another doomed brood, their third this year.

A Greylag Goose on the Serpentine had a vigorous wash and a flap to settle its wing feathers.

When a Mute Swan washes,  it's a very big splash and a tremendous flap.

The dominant Mute Swan at the east end of the Serpentine chased the Black Swan away, but the Black Swan woudn't take no for an answer. He collected himself, raised his ruffles in defiance, and came straight back.

The swan family on the Long Water passed a row of Cormorants on a fallen poplar tree. This year's young fish are  now beginning to be large enough to interest Cormorants, and they are flying in from the river.

A pair of Coots on the Serpentine were eating each other's parasites. This is not only practical, but a bonding ritual.

After yesterday's picture of a crow with a knife, you will be relieved to see that Coot chicks are only allowed plastic ones.

A crow stole a crisp from a goose and ran off with it.

The female Little Owl on the chestnut tree was just visible between the leaves.

The warm weather has brought algae up in the Italian Garden ponds, despite the best efforts of the gardeners to haul it out. A Red-Eyed damselfly found it a convenient place to perch.

Monday, 17 July 2017

It was another hot day, and a young Great Tit was panting to keep cool.

A young Starling settled on a bunch of ripening blackberries. It is beginning to grow its beautiful brocade adult feathers. The head is the last part to change.

A young Reed Warbler looked out of the reed bed near the Diana fountain.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was hard to find, but eventually appeared at the top of her tree basking in the sunshine.

Paul was in Kensington Gardens at dusk yesterday, and reports hearing no fewer than three pairs of Tawny Owls -- one quite near the tree where they used to be, one over in the direction of Queen's Gate, and a third near Kensington Palace. The owl seen in Palace Gardens Terrace several months ago was probably one of this last pair. Paul also said that the Little Owls at the leaf yard were making a tremendous racket, so much so that there must have been more than two of them. Perhaps they really did have a family this year. I heard owlets calling in the tree on three days but nothing afterwards, and thought that they must have died, but it would be splendid to be wrong about that.

A Carrion Crow picked an unidentifiable pale larva out of the algae at the edge of the Serpentine. It seems to be an inexhaustible source of little wriggly creatures.

Several Mute Swans cropping algae off the edge of the Serpentine made a strange scissory sound.

Two female Red-Crested Pochards were also eating algae.

On one of the plant rafts at the east end of the Serpentine, a Greylag Goose was pulling the tough fibrous outside off a reed mace stem, and eating it with evident enjoyment.

The Black Swan was resting on the same raft.

The Mute Swan family on the Long Water have taken to using the nest in the reeds as a day bed.

The smallest Egyptian gosling was well camouflaged amid the debris at the edge of the Serpentine.

The Coots nesting on the post at Peter Pan have finally given up, after months of trying, and the nest is now a perch for a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

A male Emperor dragonfly was hunting over the water below the Italian Garden.

There were many Common Blue damselflies there, but this one was perching on a twig at the edge of the Serpentine.

On Saturday TinĂºviel asked me whether I had ever seen a Magpie attracted to shiny metal objects, as they are supposed to be in folklore. I said I had never seen any corvid attracted in this way, though Coots love glittery silver things. But then this picture turned up.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The notorious pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull struck again at the Dell restaurant, this time successfully killing his prey.

He carried the pigeon up to the restaurant roof so that he could eat it undisturbed by the Sunday crowds. A Carrion Crow would have liked some, but didn't get a chance. From the moment that the gull killed the pigeon to the last scene, where he had eaten most of it, took just 17 minutes.

In the water below, the Black Swan was in competition with the local dominant Mute Swan, which bullies everything at the east end of the lake. He was performing his threat display, quite unlike that of a Mute Swan, with lowered head and a musical call.

But he still got chased away.

The white Mallard was on one of the rafts with his male friend, though his mate was away. It's hard to see what stage of moult he's at, because he is always white even in eclipse -- though his new feathers are creamy rather than pure white. However, in this picture you can see that he's regrowing his flight feathers.

The Mandarin teenagers and their mother were at Peter Pan. A drake turned up, looking sad and tatty in eclipse, and they chased him away.

The two Mallard ducklings were standing on the edge of the water. They are just beginning to look slightly grown up.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose has lost her last gosling of her new brood. She and her mate were consoling themselves with a display.

The Great Crested Grebes in the reoccupied nest on the island still only have one egg, as I saw when the people at Bluebird Boats kindly took me out to have a look. The female was sitting on it, but again got off as soon as we looked at her, quite unlike the calm previous occupant. We left her in peace.

A family of Moorhens was wandering around inside the wire baskets surrounding the island. I couldn't see how they got in. The chicks can get through the mesh, but their mother. can't. These baskets are meant to contain water plants but have never been very successful, and many of them are now empty and rather unsightly, but they do give shelter to nesting birds.

The sole surviving Coot chick at the nest on the wire basket near the bridge was alone on the nest, and struck a king-of-the-castle attitude.

A young Blackbird ate a blackberry beside the leaf yard.

The female Little Owl was in her usual tree.

Two days ago I showed a picture of a Jay in my street looking hungrily at a family of Goldfinches. These have now firmly settled in, and can be heard twittering from plants on the balconies or from the television aerials. Here is one staring boldly at the camera from the front railings.