Saturday, 30 April 2016

Another Willow Warbler was singing in a tree north of the Henry Moore sculpture.

The one on the other side of the bridge is still there, but didn't come out of the bushes.

Also near the sculpture. a Great Spotted Woodpecker was hammering so loudly that you could hear him from hundreds of yards away.

And the Little Owl was in his usual place in the lime tree, the only one of our Little Owls to appear today.

A Wren was darting around in the undergrowth on the other side of the lake, near the broken horse chestnut tree.

The Mute Swans nesting near the bridge were preparing to take a cruise together, and the female was covering up her eggs. She does this with great skill, so that the nest still looks occupied, with a depression in the middle, but apparently empty.

The shop at Bluebird Boats is now selling duck food, a very healthy thing to save the waterfowl from a diet of white bread, and the birds are taking to it. I thought they were so spoilt that it wouldn't work. The new food went down a treat with the Black Swan and his girlfriend.

Just up the shore, the Egyptian Geese had wandered away from their sole surviving gosling. It has done very well to survive for so long on the gull-infested lake.

The notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull had brought down another pigeon, which was still alive and struggling feebly. He called to his mate to come and share the meal.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were building a nest on the outside of the netting around the reeds near the Diana fountain.

There has been an abandoned Coots' nest there, which they mostly dismantled before starting their own sloppy nest. They could easily go over the collapsed net into the reeds and build a much stronger and safer nest, but they have an instinct for building on the edge of things.

Under the willow tree near the bridge, a Coot was trying to build a nest in a fantastically unsuitable site on a tree stump.

There is also a Coots' nest in the traditional, and usually very successful, place in the water plants in the Italian Garden.

Friday, 29 April 2016

A Common Sandpiper appeared on the Long Water. This picture was taken from a considerable distance by Mike Meilack.

The first definite sighting this year of a Reed Warbler was in the patchy reed bed to the east of the Lido.

I had heard what was probably Reed Warbler sub-song on the Long Water a week ago, but wasn't sure. This one was singing full out, and unmistakable.

It was a strange day of sun, wind, thunder and sleet. During the last of these, a new family of Egyptian Geese made an excursion up the side of the Diana fountain.

The Great Crested Grebes nesting near the bridge have lost their eggs in unexplained circumstances, and have deserted their nest, though it is still intact. They were building a new one, their third this year, nearer the bridge in the same place as the first.

This is an unstable nest site, though better sheltered than the other. But anyway, they have almost no chance of raising chicks from a spring nest, because there aren't enough small fish yet.

The Black Swan was cruising with his girlfriend, and they came over for some digestive biscuits.

The girlfriend is a large and violent swan, and I try to put food for her on the ground or in the water, because she bites. However, she sneaked in and bit me hard on the hand when I was looking the wrong way. Meanwhile a Canada Goose, which I was not feeding, was pecking me in the shins.

A Grey Wagtail flew down to the water's edge at the Lido restaurant.

Later I saw it with a beak full of insects for its young.

A Moorhen crossed the waterfall in the Dell.

Beside the avenue of plane trees that leads from the Albert Memorial to the Physical Energy statue, a Carrion Crow was amusing itself by repeatedly buzzing a pair of Egyptian Geese.

This Blue Tit near in the clump of birch trees the Italian Garden was also being very aggressive, chasing off Great Tits. It is one of a pair, and evidently they are nesting in these trees.

There was a male Blackcap in a bush above the fallen horse chestnut tree in the Long Water.

The male Little Owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial took advantage of a brief sunny spell to come out of his hole and perch on a branch.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Here's Johanna van de Woestijne's latest film, about the park in April, for which I recorded the video and sound and did the narration.

It's in high definition, 1080p, and can be enlarged to full screen. If that causes problems with the film stopping and buffering, you can choose a lower resolution by clicking on the gearwheel under the picture.
The highlight of today's visit to the park was a trip round the island in a boat, a treat kindly provided by Mateusz of Bluebird Boats. There was a close-up view of the Great Crested Grebes' nest at the east end ...

... and of a Coot building a nest on a chain linking the posts surrounding the island. It's far from complete but already has the necessary decoration of some brightly coloured plastic bags.

There is another Coot nest inside one of the boathouses, and Mateusz unlocked the door on the water side. By crouching down on the floor it was possible to get an intimate view of Coots' domestic life.

The lower of the two Grey Herons' nests on the land side of the island still has only one chick in it, as you can tell from begging calls, and it's still out of sight inside the large mass of twigs.

The Black Swan had abandoned his half-finished nest on the island, an uncomfortable pile of branches, and was with his girlfriend on the south side of the Serpentine. He was picking up twigs and laying them on the edge of the water, as if trying to inspire her with the idea of a nest. She took no notice and carried on preening.

A pair of adult Mute Swans seen from the bridge were much more interested in each other.

Another view from the bridge: one of the Great Crested Grebes from the nearby nest diving.

Four Gadwalls were circling high over the Serpentine.

There were a few Swifts and House Martins over the lake, but they stayed too far away for a picture.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker on the east side of the Long Water was visible behind a sprig of blossom from what I think is a wild plum tree.

A Blackcap perched on a hawthorn near Peter Pan.

The male Little Owl in the chestnut tree had come out of his hole and was near the top, hard to see and I nearly missed him.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The lower of the two Grey Herons' nests visible on the island has a chick in it. I could only see vague movement through the rim of the nest, but the young bird's begging call, 'tut-tut-tut, tut-tut' could be clearly heard. Possibly in a day or so there will be the sound of more chicks begging.

I haven't seen any activity in the higher nest for several days, but it's too early to write it off, especially as the nest is huge and impossible to see into. The third nest on the far side of the island is invisible bothe from here and from the opposite shore, and I only know it's there because Malcolm the Wildlife Office found it when he has on the island.

There were other signs of nests in progress. A Robin and a Wren were dashing around in the reed bed on the east side of the Long Water near the Italian Garden, and the Robin came out at the front for a few seconds. The picture shows that it was collecting insects for its nestlings.

This may be the same Wren, seen minutes later a few yards along the path.

A Starling on the pavement at the east end of the Serpentine was carrying a white caterpillar, not trying to eat it, so this probably went to a nestling as well.

At the Mute Swans' nest on the little island in the Long Water, a second pair of Coots were trying to build a nest. The swan resented this and pecked at them. Both Coots put up some resistance, but eventually they were driven off.

A female Blue Tit, on the left of this picture, was fluttering her wings and imitating the harsh begging call of a chick, to test that her mate would feed her when she was on her nest.

He gave her several pine nuts which I supplied to him, so I think he passed the test. When she finally quietened down, he came and took a last one for himself.

The three pairs of Little Owls are also presumably nesting. The male owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture looked out of his hole although the late morning was cloudy and chilly ...

... and then when the sun came out and the temperature went up, the male emerged from the chestnut tree near the leaf yard ...

... and the one in the oak near the Albert Memorial came right out on to a branch.

The sole surviving Egyptian gosling on the Serpentine is still hanging on.

A Wood Pigeon was having a bath in the little pool at the top of the Dell Waterfall.

I couldn't find the Black Swan today. But he has taken to disappearing among the bushes on the island.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Willow Warbler was singing in the shrubbery below the Triangle car park.

There was a pair of Blackcaps a few yards away. This is the male.

I couldn't get a picture of the female, but there was another on the east side of the Long Water.

For several days a Great Spotted Woodpecker has been drumming here, but only allowing occasional glimpses. Today he came out into plain view.

This Treecreeper was singing in the oak tree near the southwest corner of the leaf yard, a favourite spot for Treecreepers. Here he is climbing up the tree looking for insects in the rough bark.

A Grey Wagtail ...

... and a Pied Wagtail ...

... were running along the shore of the Lido, but I couldn't get both of them in the same shot. The Grey Wagtail was collecting insects for its nestlings. The Pied Wagtail turned downwind for a moment and its feathers were ruffled by the breeze.

A  Barnacle Goose has turned up on the Serpentine. We have often had visits in the past, probably from the same bird. But now it seems to have paired up with a Greylag.

The Black Swan was back with his girlfriend, touting for food near the Dell restaurant.

Now that the Mute Swans have discovered that they can climb over the fences of the nearby reed rafts, they are going in and out all the time. It isn't a graceful manoeuvre, but they manage it. The fence gets squashed lower each time, so the climb becomes easier.

The Little Owl in the oak tree was enjoying a sunny spell.

There were several Swifts over the Serpentine.

A Spotted Flycatcher was seen yesterday in the private garden at the back of the Ranger's Lodge. I went round the fence, but couldn't find it.