Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Tufted duckling hasn't been visible for several days, but I think this is it with its mother, photographed on the island from the opposite shore 200 yards away. The plastic fence makes it even harder to see what's going on. You can't even see what's there with binoculars, and the only thing to do is to take pictures of where they might be, and blow them up.

A Magpie perched on the edge of the little stream in the Dell, idly watching the ripples made by the big carp just under the surface.

Its presence had driven the Moorhen family up the waterfall, where all five of the chicks were swimming around -- I could only get four into this picture.

Then have no difficulty walking up waterfalls with their agility and huge feet. But, as this picture of a Moorhen chick in the Italian Garden shows, its remarkable that they don't get their toes tangled when they run.

Here are two of the new Coot chick from the boathouse, bizarre looking creatures but irresistible to Coot parents, which feed them devotedly.

Great Crested Grebe chicks are beautiful from the moment they hatch.

Young Starlings go through an awkward in-between phase when changing from their juvenile brown to adult plumage. This one was waiting in the bushes at the Lido restaurant, hoping for the chance to do a bit of scavenging.

The young Greylags are still with their Canada Goose foster parents. And they are still having a hard time from the gander of the other pair of Canadas that goes around this this family. He chased one of them away, but it's used to him and came back immediately.

The lone Mute cygnet was on its own again, with no trace of its Black Swan guardian. No one I spoke to had seen the Black Swan today. Yesterday the two were reunited in the late afternoon.

The male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial stared down through a screen of oak twigs.

One of the adults near the leaf yard -- from this angle I can't tell which -- was in the field maple tree on the edge of the leaf yard. This awkward shot was taken from almost directly below.

The large and noisy family of Wrens in the Dell are hard to see, but occasionally you get a glimpse of one hopping around under the plants.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A young Grey Heron was standing on the corner of the Dell restaurant roof where the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull usually sits.

The gull was away again. In a comment on yesterday's blog post Caroline told me that she had seen him a fortnight ago picking up lunch at Harvey Nichols, which is only a couple of hundred yards from his usual hunting ground. There is also a report of gulls taking pigeons in other cities. As I have mentioned before, a Lesser Black-Back has been seen killing pigeons in St James's Park near the bridge, but I haven't seen this and don't know whether it's our gull or another one. Our gull is instantly recognisable from the deep custard yellow of his legs.

It was a hot day, and a Cormorant was panting to cool itself on a post near the island.

The Coots who nest in one of the small boathouses have two new chicks. It is a good place for a nest, well sheltered from gulls and visited only by the staff of Bluebird Boats, who are always careful not to disturb the Coots.

In the Italian Garden pond, a Moorhen was pulling up algae for the chicks. As far as I can see they don't give the algae to the chicks to eat, but sift through it to find tiny invertebrates.

One of the Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water was slowly stretching its wings, watched by a chick. Grebes often hold their wings up for half a minute or more, evidently to relieve cramp caused by having them tightly folded and seldom used.

The teenage Mandarin was at Peter Pan again.

Most of the large flock of Red Crested Pochards have left, but a few remain and there was a female at Peter Pan. They are particularly elegant female ducks with their softly shaded colours.

I couldn't find the Tufted duckling on the island. There was a crowd of water birds of various species, and it was hard to see what was there. I couldn't find the Black Swan either, and nor could the lone cygnet, which was wandering around from one group of Mute Swans to another as if looking for its protector.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed along the west side of the Long Water. If you can find them moving from the bridge towards the Vista, you can go to the edge of the Vista, where they will collect in a small tree before they cross the gap. It's easy to photograph them here.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was in a corner of the nest tree where it was hard to get a clear view.

The male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was also in a difficult place high in an oak tree.

In an adjacent tree, a male Rose-Ringed Parakeet was inspecting a tree hole. They do this even outside the nesting season, as they sometimes use holes for shelter.

A Small White butterfly on a flower in the Dell was not looking very white, and I photographed it because I thought it might be something else. But they have have yellowish tints on their underwings, and perhaps this one was yellower than average.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was finishing off his latest victim on the Long Water near the Italian Garden, the first time I have seen him here.

But when I got to the far end of the Serpentine he had flown there before me, and was in his usual place near the Dell restaurant with his mate. He was still hungry (or maybe she was) and came ashore in a low, surreptitious posture before running at a group of pigeons.

But the pigeons in this area know what he's up to, and escaped in good time.

There is yet another brood of Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden. It's hard to keep track of the two pairs here, but I think that each has had three broods now, and several surviving chicks of various sizes are roaming around the ponds. Here is one of the new chicks in the nest with an unhatched egg.

The Great Crested Grebe family from the nest near the bridge were having a moment of peace in the shade of the willow tree.

The Black Swan passed in front of the tree, going under the bridge to look for the adopted cygnet.

This was just the other side of the bridge, staring vaguely at a Coot which didn't like anyone getting too near its chick. The two swans wandered off together.

The Tufted duckling was seen this morning near the reed bed east of the Lido. But when I got there, mother and duckling had retreated to the island. I couldn't get an unobstructed view of them.

A flock of Mistle Thrushes flew into the rowan trees on Buck Hill for a meal of berries. They never stay in these trees for long. They cram themselves quickly with berries and then fly off to a taller and safer tree to digest them.

The pair of Coal Tits near the bridge came out to be fed. When photographing one of them I accidentally caught my own reflection in its eye.

One of the Little owlets near the Albert Memorial flew into an oak tree and tried to land next to its father, shown here.

There was a brief flurry and the owlet was sent packing. It landed in a horse chestnut, looking cross.

The female of the pair near the leaf yard was on her favourite branch in the chestnut tree just uphill from the nest tree.

L. Fairfax, who often comments on this blog, found the nest of a solitary wasp, Astata boops, beside a path near the Albert Memorial and sent me this excellent picture. (Boops rhymes with 'Co-ops', not with 'oops'.)

This picture by David Element wasn't taken in the park, but is too good not to use. A female Southern Hawker dragonfly mistook his leg for a tree and laid some eggs on it.

Monday, 22 August 2016

There were 61 Red-Crested Pochards on the Long Water, more than twice the largest number I had seen before.

The population is descended from ornamental park ducks, but is now large and well established enough to be classed as a British species, and it seems to be growing fast. They managed to breed once in the park several years ago, in spite of the marauding gulls, and raised two young.

Mandarins have spread in the same way, and have had equal difficulty with the gulls in the park, though they are doing well on the more sheltered Regent's Canal a short way to the northeast. The only duckling to survive on the lake this year is now adult size and was at Peter Pan today.

The solitary Tufted duckling is hanging on, and was on the island with its mother, just visible from the opposite shore.

There was a brief glimpse of the Black Swan and the cygnet a long way off, too far for a worthwhile photograph.

The young Mute Swans on the Long Water now have almost fully developed wings, and will be trying to fly soon. It takes them some time to find out how.

There is a new brood of Moorhens at the Diana fountain landing stage. Probably the nest was in the nearby reed bed. One of the chicks was sitting in a strange position dictated by having enormous feet.

The clumps of willowherb in this reed bed seem to be much liked by all the waterfowl. Here a Mallard is reaching up for a bite.

The Great Crested Grebe family from the nest near the bridge were out on the Serpentine.  The father caught a large perch, too large for the chicks, and ate it himself.

But the chicks got fed later. Here is one trying to swallow an almost equally large fish. It managed after several tries.

A flock of Starlings waited on the roof of the Lido restaurant for a chance to snatch leftovers from a table.

A Great Tit in the Flower Walk was also waiting for food.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual place in the nest tree.

One of the Little owlets near the Albert Memorial was visible in the horse chestnut that they favour at the moment.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A very small Robin chick was sitting in the scrubby grass in front of the reed bed near the bridge. At first I thought it had fallen out of a late nest and was stranded, but then it showed it was all right by flying away.

Correction: Tom says it's a Wren. Hard to tell with tiny chicks but there does seem to be a hint of a white stripe above the eye.

A Wren was making a tremendous noise in the Dell -- it wasn't clear what it was protesting at, as the only other bird in sight was a harmless Great Tit.

A large flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees at the bottom of Buck Hill. They had several Blue Tits and, I think, a Chiffchaff tagging along with them.

There were Mistle Thrushes all over the grass on Buck Hill.

Close up, most of them are looking tatty. But this is a good sign, as it shows they have been nesting, and they will be as smart as ever in a month or two.

One of the Little owlets near the Albert Memorial posed obligingly on a branch of the usual horse chestnut tree.

The Tufted duckling was busily diving on the south side of the Serpentine.

Flocks of Greylag Geese were flying up and down the lake.

The Black Swan and the adopted cygnet were working their way along the edge, where there were plenty of Sunday visitors to feed and photograph them.

Near the island, a Great Crested Grebe neatly dodged a demanding chick that had just been fed and gave a fish to another one.

There are five Moorhen chicks in the Dell. You can just see the fifth among the plants at the far right.

They can swim quite fast with their big unwebbed feet. The action is the same as running, and works surprisingly well.