Friday, 31 March 2017

The dominant male Mute Swan at the east end of the Serpentine chased all the other swans off the newly occupied raft, attacking each of six in turn. He clearly wants it as the private property of him and his mate.

Coots don't need an excuse to start a fight. Four of them were bashing each other near the island, with another two occasionally joining in.

Another chase, and an unusual one: an Egyptian Goose had done something to displease a Cormorant, which pursued it the whole length of the lake.

On the Round Pond, the male Egyptian chased off a rival before returning to his family.

Luckily they didn't both take part in the chase, which they do sometimes, leaving their young unprotected. It is at these moments that Herring Gulls and Carrion Crows strike.

Blondie moved her brood to safety as a particularly vile dog owner approached with a black cocker spaniel that was chasing everything in sight. When I remonstrated with him, he became very abusive.

The goslings at the Lido were enjoying a moment of peace, pecking algae off the edge.

A pair of Greylag Geese were performing the synchronised splashing that leads to mating. But when the male tried to mate, the female wasn't keen and swam off.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island had no hesitation. But as far as I could see, they still don't have any eggs.

The Canada Geese nesting on the tern raft now have three eggs. They aren't incubating them yet. Eggs will stay viable at outdoor temperature for several days. Then, when the bird starts sitting, they all start developing at once and hatch together.

The hole in the plane tree near the boathouses, previously used by Starlings, definitely belongs to a pair of Ring-Necked Parakeets now, although the tree is still full of Starlings. The female went into the hole and the male stood guard outside.

A pair of Wood Pigeons in a tree near the bridge were clearly in love.

The white Mallard made an excursion to the Rose Garden and quacked on the edge of the fountain.

A Grey Heron lent interest to the bleak stonework of the Henry Moore sculpture.

The male Carrion Crow of the pair nesting in the nearby lime tree was enjoying some suet. He didn't take any to his mate.

At the chestnut tree near the leaf yard, it was the turn of the female Little Owl to come out. She was in a very calm mood, and went to sleep while I was photographing her.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A Blackcap was singing in a tree near Peter Pan, the first time I have heard this beautiful song this year.

A Wren was also singing in a hawthorn tree on the terrace of the Dell restaurant, his tiny body quivering with the effort of producing such a loud song.

A pair of Blue Tits are building a nest inside the cast-iron column of a gas lamp post on the south side of the Serpentine. This is not the lamp post I have photographed in earlier years, at the back of the Lido swimming area, numbered 76 in white paint. It's two lamp posts farther east, number 78.

The Mute Swans nesting on the little island in the Long Water are tearing the place up as usual. They reduced the island to two thirds of its size last year. This year they'll be lucky to have an island left by the time the cygnets hatch.

The Canada Geese who unwisely nested on the tern raft in the Long Water last year are at it again. The goslings will be trapped by the plastic sides of the raft and will have to be rescued, as they were before.

This Canada on the Serpentine has a larger area of white on its head than usual, with black speckles.

The tendency to speckles is quite common, and in Canada-Greylag hybrids it comes out strongly.

The Egyptian goslings at the Lido were in good shape, but their mother was ruffled by the brisk wind.

Blondie's family were in their usual place on the south shore of the Serpentine. This is only a few yards from the place where Blondie herself was hatched three years ago, in the reed bed at the east end of the lake. She never leaves her home turf for long.

The four little Egyptians on the Round Pond were all right too. One of them struggled up the granite kerb on to the shore.

This is the male Great Crested Grebe of the pair nesting on the island. One or the other has been constantly on the nest for several days, and surely they must have eggs by now.

The Jays are not coming to be fed as often as before, as they can now find plenty of food on their own. But this one usually waits in the shrubbery at the southeast corner of the bridge and comes out when I go by.

A Wood Pigeon near the Rose Garden had found a piece of bread and was eating it by shaking it violently until a piece came off.

Inside the garden a male Rose-Ringed Parakeet was looking conspicuous in a copper beech.

And a brilliant Peacock butterfly was eclipsed by the garish border.

The male Little Owl appeared again in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial.

I had my video camera with me, and took this video of him. But it's not good, as the wind was making the tripod quiver.

Update: readers of the London Bird Club Wiki will have noticed that a Goshawk was seen over the Round Pond at 1.30 pm, which is when I was off fetching the video camera. This would be a first view for the park, though I wouldn't add something to the species list on the basis of one sighting, even by a serious birder (which I wish I was). There was also a sighting of a Dunlin on the Serpentine on Wednesday, which I missed, though I did see a Dunlin here years ago.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A Herring Gull came out of the enclosure on the island carrying a large egg, evidently stolen from a duck's nest. This is the first sign we've seen this year of any of the ducks breeding -- a pity it had to be announced in this way.

A Long-Tailed Tit had found a peculiarly dense bag-shaped web made by some spider unknown to me, and was struggling with all its might to pull out some strands for its nest

Chaffinches have become quite rare in the park now. This male was in the Rose Garden.

The usual Dunnock was there, looking for bugs under a bench. She now expects to be fed.

So, of course, do the Coal Tits in the shrubbery at the southwest corner of the bridge.

The male of the pair of Goldcrests here was singing in a holly tree.

On the other side of the path, a Chiffchaff was also singing from the top of a tree, where it looked a bit windblown.

Despite the chilly wind, there were enough diners on the terrace of the Dell restaurant to bring the resident Grey Heron over to look for scraps.

The Coot nesting near the bridge is so used to large Cormorants diving around its nest that it took no notice at all of a Great Crested Grebe.

The young Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond are growing well.

Blondie's family are still quite small, and were sheltering from the wind under her wing. The fifth one was round the other side.

The mother of the family near the Lido was showing off her iridescent secondary feathers, purple when seen from one direction, green from another.

The strange pale Mallard is not iridescent at all, either on his head or on his secondaries. He was at the Vista, looking like an old sepia photograph.

All the Mandarins have now moved from the Long Water to the Serpentine, for some unknown reason. Three of the drakes were inside the netting east of the Lido.

There were Coots fighting all over the lake. They get even more aggressive in spring.

Near the Albert Memorial there was an unusual glimpse of the male Little Owl looking out of the pair's hole -- we nearly always see the female here. It's good to see that the intruding Mallards haven't pushed them out.

The owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was the usual female. I haven't seen the male for some time.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Long-Tailed Tit flew along the side of the leaf yard collecting cobwebs to build its nest.

A Chiffchaff sang in the scrub between the bridge and the Vista.

The Cetti's Warbler in this area has been singing loudly for several days, but is hard to see even for a moment and next to impossible to photograph. I had my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on 9 December 2015 -- see here -- and don't expect another.

A female Blackbird was washing in the Serpentine.

A Pied Wagtail caught a midge beside the Round Pond.

At the leaf yard, a Jackdaw looked into a plastic bag which had contained cakes from a café in Kensington High Street. There wasn't a crumb left, but it continued to play with it. An envious Magpie came over but the Jackdaw, now joined by its mate, kept it at bay while the pair enjoyed their game.

The Grey Herons in the top nest of the island were fondly caressing each other with their fearsome bills.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were having a territorial dispute on the Serpentine. They had a display of solidarity.

So, of course, did the rival pair a hundred yards away.

The two Coots on the right were fighting. Three more rushed over to join them.

A pair of Canada Geese did a synchronised splashing display before mating.

Tom was there and took a video.

The Egyptian Goose family at the Lido had somehow got two of their goslings outside the net and one inside. There are holes in the net, so no doubt they were able to sort things out.

Blondie was keeping a close watch on her brood. When a dog appeared in the distance she quickly led them to the water.

This is the family at the Round Pond. The rule is that when your mother preens, you preen too.

The Mandarins on the Serpentine chased each other.

The Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was out on her usual branch.

A Comma butterfly rested on a leaf near Peter Pan.