Tuesday, 31 May 2016

After a wet and dismal day, it's a pleasure to have one cheerful photograph, again by Virginia Grey: a Pochard with one chick.

Only a couple of pairs of Pochards are permanent residents in the park; all the others are winter migrants. And this is the first time I have known them to breed here -- though we have seen breeding by Red Crested Pochards, which are another species entirely.

A young Egyptian Goose sheltered under its mother from the heavy rain.

The Mute Swan cygnets on the little island in the Long Water were also sheltering under their mother's wings. You can just see one little grey foot here.

There are only five cygnets now. One was noticeably weaker than the others, and sadly hasn't made it.

The mixed brood of Canada Geese on the Serpentine have also lost two. Here the single older gosling leads the family across the Serpentine.

There was another pair of Canadas near this group. But it is not at all clear whose offspring is whose.

This Canada-Greylag hybrid is new to the park, I think. It has dull yellow feet.

At the beginning of June, both Canadas and Greylags begin to arrive from smaller ponds to take refuge on the lake while they are moulting and flightless.

One of the Bar-Headed Geese was visible near the Dell restaurant. Have they come for the same reason?

There was also a group of three Grey Herons here. They fly in from Regent's Park, where herons are much more numerous, and sometimes you see them passing high over Oxford Street on their journeys to and fro.

Another Grey Heron was walking round all the ponds in the Italian Garden, looking attentively into the water. There are fish in these ponds, both perch and carp, but they are hard for herons to catch as the water is too deep for them to stand in.

The Coots nesting on the post near Peter Pan had decorated their dangerously exposed nest with ivy and a crisp packet.

The rain didn't deter several Goldcrests from singing.

The Little Owl came out of the hole in his chestnut tree, almost invisible in the deep shade and the dim light of a rainy morning.

Monday, 30 May 2016

There were several families of Blue Tits along the east side of the Long Water. Here are two pictures of parents feeding their young ones.

I hadn't seen the Bar-Headed Goose on the Serpentine for several days and had assumed that it had gone back to wherever it came from, probably Regent's Park, either on its own wings or because someone had arrived with a van and captured it. But today there was again a Bar-Headed Goose, near Bluebird Boats.

And there was another Bar-Headed Goose a bit along the shore, near the Lido restaurant. I thought it was the same one that had moved along while I wasn't looking, but it wasn't. Note the dark smudge on the side of its chest -- it has one on either side. Comparing pictures from a few days ago shows that this is the one I saw earlier.

The one in the upper picture has no smudges, but it has a dark shadow on its bill, and also the black stripe on its head extends the whole way to its eye. Both these features exist on both sides of its head. It would be interesting if these two birds were of opposite sex and became mates. There is a small population of feral Bar-Headed Geese in Britain already.

Apart from that it was a very ordinary day. The Black Swan was mooching around in the middle of the Serpentine, and didn't come over for his usual biscuit. Maybe moulting is making him feel itchy and irritable.

The White Mallard was with his normal-coloured mate, but he seems to be moulting too, as he is missing the little curly feathers above his tail that show that he is a drake. Unless, of course, this is a different white Mallard, but I don't think so.

Virginia Grey has brought a touch of distinction to today's post by sending me two splendid pictures. The female Mute Swan was carrying her cygnets when she climbed on to the little island in the Long Water, causing them to fall off.

And a Grey Heron had caught a very large perch and was turning it round in an attempt to swallow it head first. It flew away still holding its prey, so we don't know whether it succeeded in eating it. Herons are prone to grabbing things too large to swallow.

The young Coots on the Serpentine are quite large now, and have been capable of feeding themselves for some time, but that doesn't stop them from begging to be fed when their parents are around.

There were a lot of Swifts over the Serpentine.

No sign of the Little owlets, but this wasn't surprising as there was a Magpie in the chestnut tree looking at the nest hole.

When I came back later they were still out of sight, but their father was on a branch.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Today was notable for two things, and I didn't get a picture of either of them.

First, the Little Owls in the chestnut tree definitely have two owlets. Paul Turner saw both of them looking out of the nest hole, bobbing their heads from side to side to get a view of the outside world. But when I came past they had gone in and didn't reappear. So here is the male owl preening elsewhere in the tree.

Second, the young Grey Heron on the Serpentine island has come out of its nest. It could be heard moving around in the bushes, tut-tutting to encourage its parents to feed it. But no matter how I dodged about, I couldn't get a sight of it. One of the parents was on a post, looking away and taking absolutely no notice of its calls.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island were with their single chick on the shadow of the electric boat.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose has lost two chicks and is down to four. They are not the only Egyptian family on the Serpentine: there are two other pairs with one chick each.

The Mandarin duckling near the bridge was with both parents, wandering around and flapping its little wings.

The Mute Swans and their cygnets were at Peter Pan. But here for a change is the swan with just one cygnet. They were eating algae in front of the Serpentine island.

The Black Swan has moulted not only his flight feathers but his fine ruffles, and is looking a bit tattty. But he came over cheerfully with his girlfriend to be given a biscuit.

The Coots' nest on the post near Peter Pan is menaced from all angles by hungry Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backs.

The Kuwaiti embassy was busy with House Martins visiting their nests in the stucco roses.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden hasn't been seen for a while. She has a mate and I hoped she was nesting, but today she turned up alone.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Great Crested Grebes at the bridge, who have been making sporadic attempts to nest for several months, have reoccupied their third nest.

They might be serious this time. The pair at the island have kept their single chick alive, showing that there are now enough small fish in the lake to sustain a family.

The young Grey Heron in the nest on the island sits there day after day, but I have never seen its parents paying any attention to it.

Instead, they just stand around at water level. Presumably every now and then one of them catches a fish and brings it up to the youngster.

Another heron perched on the Henry Moore statue launched itself into the air, causing  the rabbits that were feeding below to dash for cover.

However, these Coots seem to be unaware of danger. They have chosen to nest against one of the posts at Peter Pan, under the eyes of the many hungry Herring Gulls that perch here.

The Mandarin chick at the bridge has escaped the gulls, and is now probably large enough to be out of danger from them. However, its original eight siblings were not so lucky.

The Mute Swan family on the Long Water were gliding around gracefully, eating algae. It seems remarkable that this unpromising stuff should be enough to nourish a huge bird.

This is how not to feed the Black Swan's girlfriend. A moment later there was a cry of pain as she seized food, fingers and all. In contrast, the Black Swan himself takes food very delicately and never bites you.

On of the pair of Mistle Thrushes was back at the Albert Memorial after they were disturbed by the construction of a huge marquee. They were nesting, I think, but so far I have seen no sign of any young.

A few spilt sandwich crumbs attracted a Blackbird on the path underneath.

The male Little Owl was out on a branch of the chestnut tree.

Later the female came out of her hole, but as soon as I glanced at her she rushed inside again.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Another cygnet has hatched, this time to a pair of Mute Swans that were nesting in an almost invisible site on the Serpentine island. There seems to be only one.

The female swan on the Long Water had lined up her six cygnets on the little island and was surveying them with satisfaction.

The Black Swan, too young to take part in this game, was scratching his ear.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose still has six young. The two in the water were wandering all over the place unsupervised, and just happened to be passing when this picture was taken.

The Mandarin family have almost become a fixture next to the bridge.

The Coot nest insecurely attached to a submerged branch in the middle of the Long Water now has at least three eggs in it. The shaky structure tilts visibly when the Coot climbs on to it.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island still have their chick. The parent had caught a fish too large to bring to the chick, and ate it.

Great Crested Grebes could learn from Little Grebes here. Little Grebe chicks are so tiny that almost any fish is too big for them. So when a parent catches a fish, it shakes it violently until it falls to pieces, and then feeds the bits to the chicks. It would be perfectly possible for a Great Crested Grebe to do the same, but the idea hasn't occurred to them.

One of the young Pied Wagtails beside the Serpentine was calling loudly to be fed.

But when its parent flew off to fetch some insects, the young bird was perfectly capable of finding a little creature on the shoreline.

A Reed Warbler is often heard singing in the reed bed to the east of the Lido, and today he made an appearance.

You would think that this place was unsuitable for a nest, as the reeds are growing through a horizontal net two feet above the water which would seem to stop the birds from getting down to water level. But perhaps they have found a hole in the net.

The male Little Owl was on his usual branch in the chestnut tree.

At one time there were 15 Magpies on the ground, but they seemed to have tired of tormenting the owl.