Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The female Kestrel sometimes seen on Buck Hill was there today, ranging over the long grass looking for worms and insects ...

... and perching in the trees.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard also appeared in the afternoon.

The Black Swan and the adopted cygnet were in their usual place on the gravel bank. The Black Swan had found some leaves and sticks and was again building an imaginary nest with them.

This female Mute Swan with pale greyish-pink legs and a pinkish beak is a so-called 'Polish' swan. They are very conspicuous as cygnets because they are white instead of grey.

The deficiency in black pigment is sex-linked, and almost all 'Polish' swans are female. Birds have their sex chromosomes the other way round from ours: females are ZW and males are ZZ. The faulty gene is on the Z chromosome. If a male swan inherits a faulty Z, the other Z is likely to be all right and the swan will be a normal colour. It would have to have two faulty Zs to be pale, and this is very rare.

A Moorhen in the Italian Garden was feeding a tiny creature to a chick. It looks like a Daphnia, a little crustacean that is abundant in the fairly clean water of the lake.

In the same pond, and older sibling was finding its own food among the submerged algae.

One of the Moorhen chicks near the bridge was also foraging by itself. Their parents are still feeding them, but a bit extra is always welcome.

These Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Serpentine are still completely dependent on their parents for food, and were waiting for a fish to be brought.

The young Grey Heron at the Lido restaurant had eaten the last of a pigeon carcase left by the Lesser Black-Backed Gull, and was looking around for scraps left by diners.

The very large brood of Greylags on the Serpentine are now fully grown. The young ones can still be told from the adults by their orange, rather than pink, legs and by the absence of a white stripe down the side below their folded wings.

A Coal Tit was singing in the sunshine near the Italian Garden.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Mute Swan was wandering along the footpath of the Serpentine bridge, in danger from the passing traffic. She had been chased off the Long Water by the aggressive dominant swan -- attacking swans often try to force others on to the land -- and, unable to return, was looking vaguely for some other way down.

We kept her on the pavement and were wondering what to do next when, very fortunately, Tony the gardener came along. He knows how to pick up a swan without allowing it to struggle and maybe injure itself, and expertly grabbed her round the middle and held her neck with the other hand.

He carried her down to edge of the Serpentine and let her go, and she waddled crossly into the water ...

... and immediately sailed off under the bridge to the Long Water and into danger again.

The Black Swan and the adopted cygnet now seem to be tolerated by the dominant pair on the Long Water, and were on the gravel bank, where they now spend a lot of their time.

A Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine brought a large perch to one of the chicks, which it just managed to swallow after several tries.

On the other side of the Long Water, a Moorhen chick from the nest in the drain was contemplating one of its prodigious feet.

Tom got this fine picture of a female Blackcap in the trees just above this spot. They are very shy and hard to photograph.

A Robin in the Flower Walk was scolding some invisible predator.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard came out to his usual branch at midday.

Near the Albert Memorial, one of the Little owlets was briefly visible. They are spending time low down in a tree and you can't approach without disturbing them, so that they fly up into another tree and you have to grab a quick shot before they vanish.

There are still some Common Darter dragonflies.  This one was in the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall.

Monday, 29 August 2016

On a sunny Bank Holiday Monday the park was thronged with people, and the most of birds were staying in the background. But the male Little Owl in the chestnut tree near the leaf yard was perched imperturbably on his usual branch in the morning ...

... and when I came back four hours later he was still there.

The two young Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine were fishing side by side again.

They seem too young to be taking care of themselves, but they were not calling for their parents, and were taking it in turns to dive.

On the Long Water, a parent of another family had caught a fish and was carrying it around looking for a chick to feed it to. For once, there were no chicks in sight.

After a couple of minutes the grebe ate the fish itself.

Even at a very early age, Moorhens feel the need to climb around on plants just for the fun of it.

The Mallard drakes are beginning to regrow their breeding plumage, and have just one thing on their minds.

The Red-Crested Pochards are still in full eclipse, but in any case they behave much more decorously.

An adult female Mandarin came near the shore at Peter Pan. She looks almost exactly like the familiar teenager, but her wings are longer.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits moved along the edge of the Long Water.

And a party of Mistle Thrushes visited the rowan trees in Buck Hill.

In the grass a few yards away there is a fair-sized round hole, and there is a wasps' nest in it. The origin of the hole is a mystery. It is a long way from the place where the rabbits assemble at the bottom of the hill.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

It was a pleasure to see one of the Little owlets again near the Albert Memorial. It was looking almost completely grown up, with adult white spots on its head replacing the plain juvenile plumage.

Some of the young birds seem to be a bit behind schedule. Not far off, a young Carrion Crow was still begging for food from a parent.

And a young Blackbird near the Italian Garden was doing the same.

One of the three young Mute Swans on the Long Water displayed a pair of well grown wings. It's almost ready to start trying to fly. A couple of weeks of practice runs will be needed before it can get off the water.

The Black Swan's adopted cygnet is younger, and its flight feathers aren't fully out yet.

There had been an incursion of Mute Swans on the Long Water, and the resident pair hadn't yet got around to chasing them back under the bridge. The Black Swan amused himself by sparring with a couple of invaders

There were young Great Crested Grebes all over the Serpentine, and it was no longer possible to tell which ones belong to which family. Two quite large ones were away from their parents, practising fishing together.

This is just an ordinary Moorhen in the Italian Garden, but I do like watching the way they climb about and balance on stems, just for the fun of it.

This young Grey Heron has been hanging around the Dell restaurant for several weeks, getting closer and closer to the terrace, and I think it is nerving itself to start raiding tables.

The adult heron that used to do this was frightened away by someone, and has still not returned.

We haven't had a picture of a Pied Wagtail for a while, so here is one on the edge of the Serpentine.

There was just one Mistle Thrush in the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

The Robins have started singing again after their few weeks of silence in late summer. This means that the pairs have separated and each one, male and female, is establishing an individual territory that it will defend until the next breeding season when they pair up again.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

This is the first day for some time that I haven't been able for find any of the Little Owls. I think that the owlets near the Albert Memorial have now finally been thrown out by the parents, and the one I heard calling yesterday, in a different tree from the usual close group, was complaining about being ignored. The parents, their duty done for the year, may now be anywhere in the general region.

A pair of Jackdaws were perched in the maple tree near the leaf yard that the Little Owls here often use.

But at least there are several families of Great Crested Grebe chicks to enjoy. This is the one from the island, today seen at the far east end of the Serpentine.

The Coots from the boathouse were diving to bring up food for their three chicks.

These two Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden pond were pulling up strands of algae and sifting through them. Both have found some small black invertebrate.

A Grey Heron on the Long Water nearby was also carefully sorting out a very small fish from a strand of algae that had come up with it.

For those who were worried in yesterday's comments that the dead Lesser Black-Backed Gull seen near the boathouses might be our own pigeon killer, here is a picture of the pair alive and well and in their usual place on the Dell restaurant roof.

They had eaten as much as they wanted of their latest kill, and a Carrion Crow was standing possessively on the remains.

I couldn't find the Tufted duckling today. But when it's on the island with its mother it's often invisible from the shore.

The white Mallard drake at the east end of the Serpentine was flapping his wings. Although he is not an albino, he is at a slight disadvantage compared to normal coloured ducks because white feathers are less strong than dark ones, and liable to fray.

The Black Swan was on the gravel bank on the Long Water.

The adopted cygnet was resting a short distance away.

The white-faced Blackbird was in one of her calmer moods, and came out to take a piece of biscuit. I've been trying to make friends with her for months, but sometimes she just flies away when I approach.

A Starling touched down neatly to join a group on the weathervane of the Lido restaurant.

Cormorants' feathers have quite a beautiful pattern when viewed in the right light.