Monday, 31 August 2015

On a wet Bank Holiday Monday the park was almost deserted, but numerous Robins were happy enough on the dripping branches.

There were a few hardy people sitting out under the eaves of the Dell restaurant, and they had attracted the usual hungry Grey Heron, which was looming a bit too close for their comfort.

A young Grey Wagtail was hunting insects on one of the rafts at the east end of the Serpentine.

And a young Pied Wagtail was doing the same on the edge of the lake.

It is, of course, much greyer than a Grey Wagtail, whose most noticeable colour is yellow. But there is also a Yellow Wagtail, which is even yellower with a blond back, so it is all rather confusing.

Young Herring Gulls were lined up along the roof of one of the small boathouses.

When you see a Great Crested Grebe looking like an unmade bed, it is because it is carrying chicks on its back. This is the family from the fallen poplar tree in the Long Water.

Most of this year's young Carrion Crows are now almost grown up and independent, but a family near the Triangle car park has appeared late and the young ones are still raucously demanding to be fed.

The rain slackened off in the afternoon and the male Little Owl came out on the maple tree near the leaf yard.

The rain had brought up several fine crops of mushrooms. These are Lawyer's Wigs, Coprinus comatus, also called Shaggy Cap and Ink Cap. There was a stand of them on the east side of the West Carriage Drive opposite the allotment.

They are edible, but if you drink alcohol with them it will make you as sick as a dog.  They contain a substance similar to the drug Antabuse which is given to alcoholics as an aversion therapy.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Grey Heron in the Dell was enjoying a rat.

The rat was not enjoying its last moments. This fine photograph was taken by Virginia Grey.

On the roof of the Dell restaurant, the young Lesser Black-Backed Gull was still pestering the adults for food -- these are the notorious pigeon-eating pair. Although the female adult was ignoring it and keeping some distance away, I really think they must be its parents.

Three of the four rowan trees on Buck Hill were busy with Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes.

The fourth tree is the private property of a pair of Magpies, who occupy it even when there are no berries.

The Reed Warblers can still be seen in the reed bed near the bridge.

While I was waiting for one of them to come out, the male Cetti's warbler suddenly sang from inside the reed bed. Of course he didn't show himself. Perhaps if they manage to build up a little colony in the park they will become more relaxed about humans. This has happened with the Reed Warblers, which are now quite calm about having camersa pointed at them.

A convolvulus flower in front of the reeds was getting a lot of attention from a bee, which kept returning to the flower and walking round and round the stamen.

There was a group of Red-Crested Pochards on the Long Water. Here are three males on the right, and three females on the left. Even when the drakes are in eclipse, as they are now, they are recognisable by their red eyes and bills.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks from the nest on the fallen poplar were being fed on the far side of the lake.

One of the Little owlets was looking out rather dozily from the nest tree. They are beginning to get white spots on their head like the adults.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Sparrowhawk soared over the exact spot beside the Long Water where I saw it hunting Starlings a fortnight ago. This bird seems to have a routine in its flights over Kensington Gardens, sticking to the most likely places for prey.

The male Little Owl is also a creature of habit, and was in his nest tree on one of his favourite branches.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks from the fallen poplar in the Long Water were having their first excursion away from the nest, to the other side of the lake where evidently there were more small fish.

Two of the chicks from the nest on the island were with one parent at the Bluebird Boats platform, and the other over by the Lido with the other parent. They were being stuffed with fish at such a rate that you wondered how they could fit it in.

The bold young Pied Wagtail was running around the edge of the Serpentine, taking no notice at all of the crowds of people passing by, few of whom noticed this small grey bird on the grey granite kerb.

The white Mallard, on the other hand, can be spotted from hundreds of yards away and is much photographed by visitors.

The five Coot chicks in the Italian Garden are now quite large and are developing their flight feathers.

There are plenty of young Wood Pigeons, a species that is rapidly increasing in numbers. They don't develop the typical white collar until later, but do have white wing bars.

Some Carrion Crows and Magpies were yelling at each other in a tree near the Vista. This one tired of the game, had a good shake, and went to sleep.

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Great Crested Grebes nesting on the fallen poplar in the Long Water were changing places. When one of them stood up I took a quick picture, although I was too far away for a good one. And when I got home and looked at it on the computer there, to my surprise, were three chicks. I hadn't expected them to hatch so soon.

It was service as usual for the three chicks from the Serpentine island. Both parents were busily catching fish for them at a brisk rate.

There are now rows of Cormorants on the posts in the lake. Here are some near the bridge.

The posts unoccupied by Cormorants had Herring Gulls on them, which were giving the Moorhen family a hard time. However, the young birds understand that if they stand under an obstruction, such as these iron railings, it will stop the gulls from swooping on them and taking their food.

The Two Mute Swans with one cygnet on the Long Water have been trying to drive all the other swans under the bridge and into the Serpentine, and have almost succeeded in clearing the lake for themselves. This gives them time and space to practise wheedling food from visitors.

Another swan was looking out over the Serpentine. A passing Carrion Crow couldn't resist the chance to tweak its tail. This is a favourite crow game, and I have seen herons, geese, squirrels and even dogs fall victim to it.

The Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant, waiting for a table to become unoccupied so that it could raid the leftovers, was having a good stretch.

On the roof, the young Lesser Black-Backed Gull was trying to get the attention of the adult pair by standing in their favourite place. The adults were farther along the roof taking no notice of it.

The male Little Owl was basking in the sunshine on his nest tree. He gave me a sidelong glance and then went back to sleep.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

More Cormorants have arrived on the lake in the past few days, and there are now about a dozen. This is a sign that the young fish have grown to a size large enough to be interesting, as a Cormorant is not going to bother to fly in from the river unless there is something worth eating. Here the Great Crested Grebes nesting on the fallen poplar in the Long Water are undisturbed by having a couple of this ominous creatures so close to them.

One of the grebes in the picture above ventured into the territory of the family to the north of them, and was repelled by a massed display of family solidarity and slunk away. Grebes with chicks usually win territorial disputes just by parading their offspring.

On the Serpentine, a skein of Greylag Geese was coming down in the water. You can see the different stages of descent, braking, water skiing, and settling.

On the shore, Blondie the Egyptian Goose was pushing through a flock of Feral Pigeons to get at some food that was being offered.

The two Jackdaws at the bridge plonked themselves down in front of me to demand their daily peanuts.

There were a lot of Pied Wagtails running around on the Parade Ground, mostly young ones. Here for a change is an adult female. She can be distinguished from the male by having a dark grey back rather than a black one.

Again, there was a large flock on Long Tailed Tits in the Flower Walk. They spent a long time in the old apple tree just inside the gate behind the Albert Memorial, which must have been infested with insects.

In the afternoon the male Little Owl came out in last year's nest tree.

Underneath these chestnut trees there were some little fungi. I saw them her last year, and photographed them, and still have the picture, but I can't find where I published it and have not been able to find their name again. I remember that they are very short-lived and dry up within a day, and that the yellow colour on the cap is bright at first but then fades.

Update: I found the earlier mention on my blog eventually -- for some reason the date on the photograph was wrong. I think these are Yellow Fieldcaps (Bolbitius titubans). But I am no expert in these matters.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

In heavy rain, the Grey Heron that haunts the Dell restaurant was perched disconsolately on a table. With no one eating outside, there was no food for it to seize.

A short way along the shore, the young Lesser Black-Backed Gull was begging for food from what may or may not be its mother, the mate of the notorious pigeon-eating gull. She took no notice.

The Diana fountain enclosure, deserted by people, was full of Egyptian Geese and big gulls. This young Herring Gull found a piece of carrot, tasted it, and threw it away.

This is one of the young Egyptian Geese from the family on the north shore of the Serpentine, now almost grown up. It is drinking from a muddy puddle in the horse track, apparently better tasting than the lake water.

A flight of Canada Geese came in from the Parade Ground and settled on the lake. The second one from the left is sideslipping to lose height.

Two of the Great Crested Grebe chicks from the island were racing after their mother. They are quite big now, but will have to be fed for at least another six weeks. When they start fishing for themselves it takes them quite a time to gain the skill to find enough food.

The fearless young Pied Wagtail was running along the edge of the Serpentine, and went right past my feet.

There are also a lot of young Pied Wagtails at the Round Pond. It has been a very good year for them.

When the rain stopped and the sun came out, so did the male Little Owl. He was in the nest tree.

Mario drew my attention to this huge fungus at the top of Buck Hill, under a hazel bush next to the fence where the road divides in two. It is a Giant Polypore, Meripilus giganteus, over two feet wide.