Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The four Mute Swan cygnets often left alone by their parents at the west end of the Serpentine have been having a tough time. The local dominant male chased two of them down the lake, humiliating them in front of an audience of Coots.

On the other side of the lake, the Black Swan had just been chased off by the same male, and was working off his exasperation on another of the cygnets.

That done, he went to try and catch some bread that was being thrown.

A Carrion Crow collected two pieces of naan bread, tastier than the usual feeble stuff.

Three pairs of Great Crested Grebes clashed over territory at the Serpentine island. The pair with the chicks in the foreground are the one who nested behind the boat. The pair on the right have taken over the nest and are reusing it. The pair in the background are trying to make a nest on shore side of the island -- see yesterday's blog post. This video is not good, as I had to keep zooming in and out to try to catch what was going on.

The Coot nesting near the bridge is even more obsessional about nest building than most Coots. In this video she gets carried away by a bunch of leaves, ignoring her chick.

A pair of Moorhens had two new chicks at Peter Pan.

The Mallard near the bridge was sheltering her four ducklings under her wings.

Later she had a preen and let them run around. She has done remarkably well to keep four alive for so long. They spend much of their time sheltering under the bridge.

The Grey Wagtail was at the Lido restaurant again, running along the edge of the water.

A family of Long-Tailed Tits passing through the bushes near the Henry Moore sculpture were accompanied by another family, Blue Tits with two young. Here is one of them ...

... and here are two young Long-Tailed Tits looking out from the top of a branch.

The female Little Owl perched in front of her nest hole.

Some Spanish-speaking visitors felt a dance coming on in the Italian Garden. You can occasionally hear the man singing over the noise of the fountains.

Monday, 24 July 2017

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were building a nest in a new place on the side of the island facing the shore, a conveniently visible place. The nest doesn't look at all secure, but grebes' nests are always a vague mess ...

... and it stood up to having both of them on it when they were mating. There must be a submerged root under here holding the nest up.

The three young Moorhens from the nest in the Italian Garden pond have been strangely invisible, even by the standards of these surreptitious birds. They always seem to be lurking in a safe clump of plants. But today they were out on the water, already quite well grown.

One of their parents stood in a clump of purple loosestrife.

This plant was deliberately put in the planters in the Italian Garden, and has now spread all over the park. In the United States it's classed as an invasive species, and it's easy to see why.

More Red-Crested Pochards have flown in, probably from Regent's Park, and there are now 16 of them on the Long Water, in addition to 12 Common Pochards which have arrived from somewhere unknown, too early to be winter migrants.

This blond Mallard seen at the Vista is not the usual female, which has a dark bill. Judging by its yellow bill it's a drake in eclipse, probably the one that has a dark rusty brown head when in breeding plumage.

The Black Swan is now spending his time near the bridge, having given up the unequal struggle with the big dominant Mute Swan at the east end of the Serpentine. So far the dominant swan at the west end of the lake seems to be leaving him in peace, and when people come to feed the birds he can go to the shore unmolested.

A Cormorant spreading its wings to dry kept flapping them, perhaps to keep its balance in the brisk wind.

The young Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant was prowling up the edge of the terrace hoping to find some food left by diners.

It has not yet developed the invasive tactics of the previous heron, which used to jump on to people's tables and snatch the food off their plates. I don't know what happened to this bird, but suspect it was kidnapped and taken away to a distant place.

A Grey Wagtail worked its way along the edge at the Lido restaurant. This is a favourite spot for wagtails, probably because spilt food attracts insects.

A young Magpie tried to drink from the lake at the Vista, but the kerb was too high for it to reach the water.

Two Rose-Ringed Parakeets were fighting for ownership of a feeder's hand.

One of them had to lose.

We haven't seen the male Little Owl for some time, but today he was on the usual chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

A Carrion Crow perched on a griffin on a building in the Bayswater Road just north of the park.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The female Mute Swan on the Long Water was with her cygnets. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, she started rushing around them with her enormous wings outspread.

The family who are usually near the bridge went close to the Coots' nest, and got a furious glare from the occupant.

Later, in the same nest, the one chick saw its father coming with food, and in its haste climbed over the top of its mother.

On a raft at the east end of the Serpentine, a cygnet stared curiously at a Moorhen foraging for insects.

The Black Swan was nearby, mooching around mildly but occasionally annoyed by the dominant male swan, who is the father of this cygnet.

The six Egyptian goslings at the Round Pond were grazing under the complacent gaze of their mother. They are no growing their flight feathers, and none of them is affected by 'angel wing'.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were displaying to each other on the Serpentine, though they didn't get as far as doing the weed dance.

This is the pair that have not yet found a nest site. They still have over a month to find one. The latest successful nesting of grebes I have seen on the Serpentine started on 1 September, and the chicks were able to fly by Christmas. As it happens, the nest was on the edge of a reed bed a few yards from the grebes in the video.

The family from the island were at the Lido.

The Coots' nest on the post at Peter Pan, no longer maintained by its makers, is sinking under the weight of ducks using it as a resting place. The usual Pochard has pushed it down to water level ...

... and when a Mallard started preening on it, it sank lower still.

A gathering of ducks on the fallen poplar at Peter Pan included the Mandarin and her two almost full-grown ducklings, at the left of this picture. They received an unwelcome visit from a Grey Heron.

There is a new family of Mallard ducklings on the Long Water, seen here at the Vista.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard looked down sleepily from the chestnut tree.

A Carrion Crow on a tree in Hyde Park played with a plastic bag, less for the few crumbs it contained than for the interesting crinkling sound it made. Another crow wanted it.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Great Crested Grebe on the nest in the fallen poplar on the Long Water looked fondly at her single chick.

Her mate brought it a fish.

The other grebe family on the Long Water had divided childcare between parents, as happens when the chicks reach a certain size. Two of the chicks were following one parent in the middle of the lake ...

... and the third one was over the far side, revealing the position of their well hidden nest. It's on the east side of the Long Water, about level with the tern raft.

A Coot brought a crisp packet to a nest foolishly situated on the platform of Bluebird Boats ...

... and laid it down. The nest seems to be largely made of plastic.

A pair of Coots, probably the same pair, nested here earlier. Mateusz made a little ramp so that when the chicks fell into the lake they could get up again. But the chicks were all eaten by gulls in this exposed position.

There is another idiotically sited Coot nest at the top of the weir where the water flows out of the lake. Any chicks soon get swept over the edge and can't get up agin, although there is a sloping plank to help them. Moorhens, on the other hand, can climb up the weir, and even chicks can do this. There have been successful Moorhen nests in the pool below the weir, and it looks as if there is another one now. To save itself a harder climb round the edge, the Moorhen came up the plank and over the Coots' nest.

The Coots didn't like this at all, and hurried to intervene, accompanied by a chick from a previous brood. But by the time they arrived, the Moorhen was gone.

This young Moorhen made the mistake of stepping into the Long Water too close to a belligerent Coot, and was chased away.

A Magpie got uncomfortably close to a Grey Heron, which gave it a hostile stare.

The Black Swan saw someone feeding the Mute Swans, and made a beeline for them.

There were heavy showers. Cowering under the bridge, I took this picture of a Mallard unworried by the rain.

A Wood Pigeon had a bath in the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through a hawthorn tree near the bridge.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was on her favourite branch.

The pair called to each other, but I still couldn't find the male. He was hidden in a horse chestnut tree just the other side of the path.
It was a very successful visit to Rainham Marshes. It's not the best time of year for birds, but there was a splendid selection of insects.

Nine Little Egrets could be seen from the Butts hide. Here is one of them fishing. I removed the sound from this video because it was simply of people in the hide talking.

No visit to Rainham would be complete without a Lapwing ...

... and a Little Grebe.

This picture of a Green Sandpiper was taken at a distance in fading light.

And so was this one of a Kestrel.

There was a Collared Dove ...

... and a lot of Goldfinches ...

... on a dead tree near the visitor centre which is hung with feeders.

As it was getting dark, two Barn Owls could be seen flying across the marshes, but too distant and dim for a picture.

Update: But Tom, who was closer to them, did get a picture, remarkable considering how little light there was.

Butterflies included a Peacock ...

... a Ringlet ...

... a Comma ...

... a Gatekeeper ...

... a Large Skipper ...

... and a Holly Blue.

There was a Cinnabar moth caterpillar on a stem.

Dragonflies included a Common Darter ...

... and a Southern Migrant Hawker, looking luminous with the sun behind it.

There were several Wasp spiders in a little patch of grass.