It was the day for the monthly bird count, which produced no surprises except for the arrival of four male Mandarins on the Long Water to supplement the existing four teenagers, all of which were also visible. These birds fly in and out from the Regent's Canal via Paddington Basin, which is only a few hundred yards from the north edge of the park, so they arrive and leave freely all the year round. The Mandarin drakes are already in full breeding plumage and looking impossibly gaudy. There were also 17 Shovellers: numbers are increasing. None of the males has yet recovered from eclipse, though their breeding plumage is visibly emerging.
Both the Little Owls made an appearance this morning, though as usual the female went back into the tree at the mere sight of a human being. They were also harassed by Jays and at least one Song Thrush, but when things had quietened down the male emerged and perched on a bare branch of the ancient chestnut tree.
A Magpie was washing on the edge of the Serpentine. Oddly, the only bit that it was washing was its head, which it repeatedly plunged into the water and shook vigorously. Maybe it was relieving a local itch.
Another large flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the bushes in Kensington Gardens, with some Blue Tits, at least one Coal Tit and a couple of Goldcrests. These last remained hidden in the leaves, but one of the Long-Tailed Tits came to the front for a few seconds and allowed itself to be photographed.
The Great Crested Grebes from the fallen poplar tree on the Long Water are now too large to ride on their parents' backs, but it doesn't stop one of them from climbing aboard when it gets the chance. The adult tolerated it for some time before shaking it off.
But the chicks' incessant demand for food does try even a mother's patience. This one couldn't stand it any more and chased her loud offspring away.
Ten seconds later it was begging as constantly as ever.