Friday, 28 April 2017

The Great Crested Grebes who have been trying to dance at the east end of the Serpentine have finally got it right.

It didn't work at first. After the preliminary display one dived to get some weed while the other just sat there. When the first grebe surfaced, the other suddenly woke up and went down to get some weed too, and finally everything was set and they rushed together triumphantly and waved the weed at each other.

There is a new Egyptian Goose family on the Serpentine near the bridge, but they only have two goslings.

The incompetent pair on the Long Water have managed to hold on to their two. Here they are on the rock near the Italian Garden, with a new brood of three Coot chicks on the right.

There is no trace of the Canada goslings reported yesterday. Several people have looked for them. Their disappearance is not surprising considering the unusual number of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Long Water. Six were on the posts at Peter Pan (the bird one from the far end is a Herring Gull) ...

... and another three were washing in the big gulls' bathing place just south of the posts.

The Mallard family were in their usual place in the shelter of the bridge. Seven ducklings are left of the original thirteen.

The Coots' nest near the bridge has grown to an imposing size. Unfortunately one of the eggs has tumbled out of the towering structure, and the Coots can't get it back up the slope.

The Grey Herons' three young could be seen in the nest on the island.

A Grey Wagtail was hunting on a raft at the east end of the Serpentine. The soggy mess left by the Mute Swans nesting last year may look terrible, but it's an excellent place for insects.

A Pied Wagtail was collecting insects over the Round Pond before flying off to its nest somewhere in the Kensington Palace grounds.

A few House Martins were chasing insects high over the pond.

This Long-Tailed Tit was doing the same on the roof of the Lido restaurant. Its little feet don't look strong, but they can exert a mighty grip on a bit of lead flashing.

The Song Thrush often seen on the grass east of the Dell is quite calm as these shy birds go, and just looks at you while you photograph it.

A Carrion Crow stared even more imperiously from Queen Victoria's crown in the Italian Garden.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was on top of the branch where the nest hole is.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The hopeless Egyptian Goose pair on the Long Water, who have never yet raised a single gosling, have had another brood, already reduced to two. Here they are on the rock under the parapet of the Italian Garden.

A pair of Canada Geese have hatched goslings in a tree near the Italian Garden, the big horse chestnut behind the semicircular stone bench on the east side. The young birds jumped down from the tree, which they do confidently when their mother calls, and they are so light and fluffy that they can fall any distance uninjured. They then went into one of the ponds. But this happened before I arrived, and I couldn't find them although I went round the Long Water twice. They must have been well hidden under a bush.

The people at Bluebird Boats kindly took me on a trip to see nests around the island. The star of the show, of course, was the Great Crested Grebe on her nest. Her mate was away, probably watching a recording of a Barcelona match.

There is a Canada Goose nest at the southeast corner of the island ...

... and a Mute Swan nest on the south side.

There is usually another swan nest in the middle of the island, invisible in the bushes. The island is a favoured site because it's safe from foxes.

This is also a view from the boat, of the nest at the Lido which yesterday was comfortably upholstered with leaves from an ornamental plant. It's not foxproof, of course ...

... but this new nest on a raft at the east end of the Serpentine is safe. There are now two nests on these rafts.

Add the nest at the Diana fountain landing stage and the one on the little island in the Long Water, and it looks as if we are going to have a lot of cygnets this year after last year's miserable showing. The good prospect has not improved the mood of the swans, and the dominant male at the east end of the Serpentine was pointlessly beating up the others.

One last picture taken from the boat: the Coot nest in the net around the reed bed east of the Lido. The Coot is looking out through a hole cut for its convenience.

The Mallard at the bridge still has nine ducklings, though the most I could get into one picture was eight. She is keeping them sheltered under the edge of the stone pavement, but hungry Herring Gulls are cruising around.

There were again plenty of Pied Wagtails running around the Serpentine. Here is one searching for insects among the daisies on the south shore.

There are also lots of Robins beside the path on the east side of the Long Water. This is one of a pair that came to my hand again and again, taking three pine nuts at a time and carrying them to their nest in a bramble patch. I fed three other Robins on the path. Thanks to Fran for taking this good picture.

Another Robin sang in a blossoming tree in the Rose Garden.

The flowers here are attracting a crowd of Honeybees.

A Jay in the leaf yard was eagerly expecting to be given a peanut.

The first House Martins have arrived on the lake, only three or four of them so far. They were not yet taking an interest in the nest sites on the cornice of the Kuwaiti embassy. Yesterday there were some Swallows and a single Swift, and there was just one Swallow crossing Kensington Gardens on the 24th.

Update: Des McKenzie saw a Hobby in Hyde Park around noon.

No day would be complete without a view of the Little Owl near the leaf yard. Over five years I have taken well over a thousand pictures of him, and he is resigned to having a camera pointed at him every time he appears.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Mallard near the bridge had thirteen ducklings.

The Mute Swans near the landing stage were off their nest, revealing five eggs.

At the far end of the Lido, the male swan was ripping up an ornamental bush ...

... and bringing the bits to his mate, who arranged them on the nest.

The mystery of the stray swan eggs near the bridge continues. A third one was lying on the bank, with a male swan asleep and ignoring it.

There is one nest here, but it doesn't seem to have any eggs in it. Swans are constantly coming and going here, and it's a very disordered place.

Blondie's goslings are quite large now, and she can relax and preen her pale wings.

The Coots foolishly nesting on the post near Peter Pan can't relax for a moment, as Herring Gulls are constantly on the watch for a chance to steal their eggs.

There were Pied Wagtails all along the south shore of the Serpentine.

A pair of Grey Wagtails were hunting at the Lido.

There was a third Grey Wagtail a bit farther along the shore, but it was in a very tatty state and unlikely to survive for long.

A Robin was collecting insects in the reed bed near the Diana fountain, and taking them to a nest in the shrubbery between here and the bridge.

Across the lake, a Blackcap was furiously scolding some unseen predator.

The Little Owl near the leaf yard was often visible on the edge of his hole or a nearby branch.

Yesterday I mentioned the two stone nymphs in the Italian Garden who pour water from urns into the lake.

They sit each side of the marble fountain decorated with four tritons.

And here, on the keystone of the central arch of the loggia, is their boss, the god of the River Westbourne, who seems most depressed.

His flowing hair and beard, of course, represent water, but his odd hat needs explanation. It is an image of the three arches through which the river originally flowed into the Long Water, here shown in a mid-19th century engraving. They can still be seen at the back of the loggia.

The complex iconographic scheme also includes swans, ram's heads, and reliefs of Victoria and Albert and of children engaged in rustic sports. It all seems a bit much for a tiny river which was only a few feet wide before it was dammed to create the lake. To add insult to injury, the Westbourne no longer flows into the Long Water. It was a smelly little stream because of all the rubbish thrown into it higher up, and when the Italian Garden was built in 1860 the water was diverted round the north side of the park in a pipe. The Long Water is now fed from a borehole.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Grey Herons in the top nest on the island have three chicks, if you can call these gawky creatures chicks.

Virginia photographed a strange moment yesterday when a third adult heron flew down and stood in the nest with the parents. This bird has been watching the nest from a nearby tree for some time.

The Mistle Thrushes nesting to the east of the Dell have at least one fledgling. Here it is demanding food from a parent.

A Blackcap sang in the Rose Garden.

So did a Coal Tit, waiting for a turn at the feeder.

A Chaffinch was singing near the Triangle car park.

A Long-Tailed Tit carrying a feather to its nest paused in a red maple tree in the North Flower Walk.

(That's the official name of the railed-off area on the north edge of the park west of the Italian Garden, but it's more shrubs than flowers.)

In the Italian Garden, a Starling perched on the shoulder of one of the weathered nymphs that pour water from urns into the lake.

They aren't goddesses, because the deity of the Westbourne seems to be male. His face, with an expression of utter misery, is carved on the keystone of the central arch of the loggia. The peculiar building to the northeast of the garden, with a wood-panelled apse containing a semicircular bench, is technically a nymphaeum. There's a house at the back of it where presumably the nymphs live when they're off duty.

The Grey Wagtail was on the Lido again.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was looking out of his hole. It was a chilly morning with a brisk wind, and he wasn't tempted to come farther out.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gulls haven't been seen with any recent kills in their usual place near the Dell restaurant. Evidently the pigeons here are getting warier. But today he had got another victim, and was sharing it with his mate.

A Mute Swan was stranded on the path near Peter Pan, probably chased off the water by the dominant male. I led her back to the nearest place where she could get back on the water, at the Vista, which was a bit of a hike for a swan but she came along willingly enough. As soon as she was on the lake again she ran into opposition from a bumptious teenager, but at least she could escape now.

We've already had a photograph showing how Coots are fascinated by swan's eggs, and here's another to reinforce the point. Fran sent me this pleasing picture of two of them admiring the five enormous eggs in the nest near the Diana landing stage.

The Egyptian Goose at the Round Pond which Virginia photographed back in her nest tree has not settled down there yet. Today she was with the goslings again, shepherding them to the water when a dog approached.

A Mandarin turned up at Peter Pan and was chased by a Red-Crested Pochard.

In the Rose Garden, a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee made the most of a sunny spell.