Sunday, 19 February 2017

A supplement today: Kenneth Bentley photographed a pair of Great Crested Grebes dancing near the Lido, possibly two of the four new arrivals. He captured the moment when they rush towards each other ...

... before rising up for the dance with the water weed.

A small group of Long-Tailed Tits passing through the trees near the Serpentine Gallery ...

... included a Coal Tit ...

... and a Goldcrest.

The Redwings were still on the Parade Ground, staying warily in the trees as a man went past with a roller.

A Wood Pigeon ate flower buds in a tree in the Rose Garden.

We need a picture of a Robin from time to time. The park would be a duller place without their melodious year-round song.

The little Egyptian gosling at the Henry Moore sculpture had survived another night and reached four days old, which is a record for the young of its incompetent parents.

Four Great Crested Grebes were sitting in a loose group in the middle of the Serpentine, without making any displays. This is a sign that they had just flown in. When grebes are moving they drop their territorial claims and travel together for greater safety, flying at night to avoid predators. These two are not a pair, and both clearly male.

Some Greylag Geese flew down to the lake.

A Canada Goose turned upside down during a vigorous wash at the Lido.

A pair of Gadwalls passed by. You can see the distinctive white patch at the back of the female's folded wing.

Female Mallards look quite similar but the patch is blue, because it is the bird's secondary feathers, here fully displayed as she flaps her wings.

The female owl at the Albert Memorial was at the back of her hole during a dim morning.

When the day brightened up later she went inside, so this is the best picture I could get.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Long-Tailed Tits have started building their nests, a long job as the birds are small and the nests are large and complex -- spheres made of spider's webs, moss and feathers. This one has gathered some webs. It will wipe the bundle across the surface of the nest, drawing out the strands to make a strong binding.

A pair of Goldcrests were jumping around in the trees near the bridge. They usually nest here.

A Wren came out of the bushes near the Triangle car park and posed obligingly for the camera.

The Kingfisher was on his favourite branch near the Italian Garden.

The workmen laying turf on the Parade Ground have moved up the hill, and the Redwings have returned. They were on a patch of bare earth under a tree to the west of the bandstand.

The mild weather brought people out on to the terrace of the Lido restaurant, and Starlings were waiting on the fence for some of them to leave so that they could grab their leftovers.

In the lowest of the Grey Herons' nests on the island, one of the birds was sitting, invisible until its mate arrived, when its stood up ...

... and flew off to gather some more twigs for the nest.

Herons take turns to incubate their eggs, so you can't tell which is the male and which the female.

Great Crested Grebes also take turns on the nest. But here is the pair at the island going out fishing together, so it looks as if they haven't started sitting.

One of the Coots in the oddly placed nest on the wire baskets near the bridge glared indignantly at a Cormorant which had come much too close to the nest.

Surprisingly, the incompetent Egyptian Geese at the Henry Moore sculpture still have their last chick. It's unusual for one of their broods to survive for more than two days.

Another pair of Egyptians flew over the Serpentine, displaying their conspicuous white wing patches.

A Mute Swan washing at the Lido seemed to be dancing the cancan.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Here as promised are Tom's pictures from today. Both were taken at Peter Pan. The Sparrowhawk was in the big yellow bush directly across the lake.

As well as these Mandarins, there were several others lurking in the bushes.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island are now nesting seriously.  They chased another grebe away and it fled down the lake at high speed.

Then they had a display in front of the electric boat moored at the island.

The nest is in the bushes behind the boat, and hard to photograph through the twigs.

The intruding grebe was unruffled by its defeat, but felt like having a rest.

Yesterday I heard a Little Grebe calling, a sign that there is more than one on the lake. And today I saw them both, a long way off on the Long Water near the bridge.

It's very hard to tell how many of these secretive little birds there are. This is the first time I've seen more than  one on the lake in more than a year.

Several Treecreepers could be heard in Kensington Gardens. This one was near Queen's Gate.

There were two Nuthatches in the next tree, a male singing right at the top and his mate preening lower down.

A Long-Tailed Tit examined a gall on a twig to see if there were any insects. The gall is formed by insects laying eggs in the twig, but the larvae would have been safe inside the woody lump.

A Blue Tit at the leaf yard was having an easier time finding food, and collected a piece of peanut.

A Robin was also expecting a handout.

The Little Owl was in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture.

The one near the Albert Memorial came out in the afternoon.

Tom saw a Sparrowhawk near Peter Pan, and also several Mandarins. But he's still on his way home, so I'll put up his pictures later. Meanwhile, here are a pair of Gadwalls in the same place.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A pair of Mandarins have arrived, and were at Peter Pan when Tom went by and took this picture.

They have had only occasional success in breeding on the Long Water because of the many gulls, and do much better on the more sheltered Regent's Canal, which begins nearby at Paddington. Probably this population originally comes from the offspring of a captive collection at Regent's Park.

The hopeless pair of Egyptian Geese were at the Henry Moore sculpture with just one survivor from a doubtless much larger brood. In twelve years in the park they have not raised a single gosling, while the other Egyptians have been doing very well.

The Coot on an equally doomed nest on the wire baskets near the bridge had built up the nest substantially.

If a strong east wind doesn't wash it away, the chicks will be eaten by gulls as soon as their mother leaves the nest for a moment. There is a post a few feet away where a gull can stand and wait for this moment.

A Mute Swan had finished preening, and flapped its enormous wings near the Lido.

The Kingfisher was also preening on the usual branch of the dead willow near the Italian Garden.

The new turf at the bottom of the Parade Ground was covered with workmen and tractors, so there was no chance of seeing an interesting bird on it. With luck they will be back when things quieten down. Meanwhile, here is a Pied Wagtail on its traditional run along the edge of the Serpentine.

A Starling at the Dell restaurant was looking splendid during a sunny spell.

Another picture by Tom: a dramatic shot of a pair of Nuthatches coming down to take food at the leaf yard.

A pair of Goldcrests were leaping around in the trees near Peter Pan.

Both Coal Tits came out when we went past the bridge.

There was a Treecreeper in the shrubbery near the Henry Moore.

One of the insect traps here had a Rose-Ringed Parakeet on it. It probably thought the thing was a bird feeder, and was pulling off the duck tape to open it up.

The trap would have been empty, as the bottle of alcohol at the bottom, which both lures and kills insects, has been removed.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was looking down from her tree.