Friday, 13 September 2013

The Great Crested Grebes who nested in the fallen poplar tree on the Long Water have three chicks, not two. It is hard to count when the chicks are still very small and hidden in the parent's feathers, and these birds were hard to observe because the nest was a hundred yards from the nearest vantage point. But I'm surprised that neither I nor anyone else spotted the third chick when they came close to the bridge. Here one of the chicks scrambles up its mother's back.

Grebes have very short and scanty tail feathers, which makes it easier for chicks to climb up. I think they must use their large trailing feet as control surfaces when they are flying.

One of the eldest chicks at the Serpentine island, in the shadow of the trees, was preening its shining white underside.

The brilliance of its feathers makes it less visible from below, an advantage for a bird that hunts fish.

Two Grey Herons were chasing each other around the Italian Garden. They momentarily perched in a tree, still defying each other. But the branches were very thin and they had to flap furiously to stay on.

Just after I took this picture, one of them lost its footing, lurched into the air and flew away, leaving the other triumphant but precarious. Where there are two herons, there is usually a quarrel. But I have never seen them actually fighting: their beaks are too dangerous to be used in anger.

Beside the Serpentine, some Black-Headed Gulls and Feral Pigeons and a juvenile Lesser Black-Backed Gull were squabbling over the end of a baguette. Needless to say, the big gull won the prize and flew away with it.

This Mallard in the Italian Garden evidently felt that the rain was not wet enough, so it stood under the fountain.

I didn't hear the Hobbies today. Perhaps they are heading for Africa.


  1. I think your Hobby family might have been spotted on St Matthews church tower on Thursday.

    A resident of Bark Place heard a commotion of birds and watched them settling on the tower, recognising them as birds of prey but not sure which. When I mentioned your observations of the Hobby family in the north west corner of Kensington Gardens it fitted the bill. She saw two adults and three young. Would the high pitched chattering among the group have been significant?

    1. Thanks. That must be them, only a couple of hundred yards north of the park. Surprised that there are three young, since no one in the park had supposed that there were more than two, but they move around so fast and far and erratically that it would be easy to make a mistake. They have been calling to each other often and loudly. The excellent Xeno-Canto site has lots of recordings of Hobby calls at
      so that you can distinguish the fast alarm call from the slower notice call.