Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Kingfisher was in the dead willow tree near the Italian Garden, again.

It's unwise to say that a bird has a habit or a favourite place, because they are likely to change it suddenly. But the bird was there during two visits more than an hour apart.

The Redwings at the bottom of the Parade Ground were perched in the trees. They couldn't be clearly seen but there must have been a lot of them, because they were making quite a noise. Some of them were singing.

There was no sign of Pied Wagtails here, but several were running around the edge of the lake. This one was on the terrace of the Dell restaurant.

It's getting quite used to people. With a bit of time and encouragement, Pied Wagtails can become quite tame.

Two Carrion Crows were amusing themselves by swinging on the weathervane of the Lido restaurant.

Below, a Robin was singing loudly in an olive tree.

Some Long-Tailed Tits passed by the Italian Garden.

On the island there were two Grey Herons in the tree with the highest nest. One was right at the top gathering twigs for it.

A male Great Crested Grebe in fine new plumage was admiring his reflection.

(And, for those who say that birds don't recognise their reflection, water birds see it the whole time, and they must have worked out that it isn't another bird upside down and challenging them, or they wouldn't be able to get on with their life.)

There was an odd Greylag Goose with a white patch on its front on the south side of the Serpentine.

Several Mute Swans were flying from end to end of the lake, in both directions. Here is one toiling into the air.

A group of Shovellers on the Round Pond were shadowed by a Black-Headed Gull. Since they live by shovelling up tiny invertebrates, the gull had no chance whatever of stealing their food.

At the Lido, a gull was playing with a bit of straw.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was sheltering from the drizzle at the back of her hole.

Later the rain stopped, and female owl near the Henry Moore sculpture came out. She is now calm enough to stop staring at photographers if they behave themselves.

We're not seeing the male owls at the moment. This will change as the breeding season approaches.

Monday, 30 January 2017

A pair of Egyptian Geese near the Henry Moore sculpture have a new brood. But this is not the usual pair of Egyptians that are often seen here -- the hopeless ones who lose all their young in a couple of days. So, although this is a most unsuitable time of year for breeding, it's possible that some may survive.

I met Jenna, who was feeding some geese near the Serpentine island. She pointed out the Greylag from the mixed brood of Greylags and Canadas which we followed last year. It is noticeable for being a bit undersized.

It was still with the mixed family, including its stepmother and this Canada, which is another of the mixed brood. It had, and still has, a slight brown discoloration of the white parts of its plumage.

On the island, a Grey Heron in the lowest nest was arranging some small twigs inside the spiky construction to make it a bit more comfortable. Then it settled down to test the result. It can't be seen when it's sitting here.

A pair of Mute Swans were courting at the east end of the Serpentine.

The dominant swan of this area didn't like that kind of thing going on in his territory, and sailed in to break up the couple.

There were plenty of Redwings on the Parade Ground, though they stayed rather far away.

A Pied Wagtail had come down to the lake to hunt along the shore.

A flock of Goldfinches was twittering in the tops of the alder trees near the Italian Garden.

The usual Dunnock was in the Rose Garden picking up spilt food from under the feeder. I have never seen such a confident Dunnock -- it takes absolutely no notice of me or the camera.

The pair of Coal Tits near the bridge have switched to the Hyde Park side, and were hopping around in an arbutus tree, calling to each other. They both came down to be fed.

The Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore was showing better than yesterday.

But the one near the Albert Memorial lurked at the back of her hole.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The ice on the Serpentine is almost gone, and it's back to shovelling as usual.

Much of the ice on the Long Water has melted too, and a pair of Great Crested Grebes have returned.

There is now a pond on the Parade Ground, in the place at the top of the hill which constantly turns into a swamp or floods. The people relaying the turf really need to dump some earth here to raise the level, but each year passes with nothing done about it. Anyway, a pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls were enjoying the water.

Lower down the hill on a patch of surviving grass, a Pied Wagtail stood on a stick to get a better view of the surroundings. They hunt insects by eye, and their vision seems to be remarkably sharp.

Another had somehow pulled up a full-sized earthworm and was swallowing it.

There were at least twenty Redwings near the bandstand, foraging on the bare earth and patches of grass and flying up into the trees. You could hear their gentle chattering from some distance away.

A Magpie was eating what seemed to be couscous on the edge of the Serpentine. People do have very strange ideas about bird food.

A male Mute Swan was chasing a female, pecking at her violently.

At first I thought he might be trying to mate, but no: he just grabbed her neck and held her head under water.

More swans gathered round, apparently approvingly, because they all displayed to each other afterwards while the female slunk away. It looked like a punishment beating for some imagined offence.

A Coot found a plastic bag on the Serpentine and investigated it to see if there was anything edible inside. A Black-Headed Gull, seeing this, came over to see if there was something it could steal from the Coot.

A Cormorant was fishing in one of the Italian Garden ponds, probably the last well stocked water in the park as they have pretty much exhausted the lake, and the Round Pond doesn't seem to have much either. It caught three perch in two minutes.

The female Little owl near the Albert Memorial was sheltering from the drizzle at the back of her hole.

The one in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was crouching down on the edge of her hole, and could only be seen from a distance.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

There were Redwings at the bottom of the Parade Ground, though they stayed too far away for a good picture.

There were also the usual Pied Wagtails.

Redwings in the top of one of the plane trees around the bandstand panicked and fled as soon as I raised the camera. But there were other birds in the trees between the bandstand and the Rose Garden, including Mistle Thrushes ...

... and Goldfinches, one of which was singing.

In the Rose Garden, the bush with the feeder was visited by the usual pair of Coal Tits ...

... and the Dunnock on the ground underneath, dodging between the pigeons to pick up spilt food.

It also picked up a tiny creature which I couldn't identify.

Readers of the London Bird Club Wiki will know that some Waxwings were seen at Marble Arch yesterday morning, in the tall trees at the far northeast corner of the park. I spent two hours looking for them, also going around Hyde Park Square, Oxford Square and Connaught Square (where I once got stopped and searched by the police for making an apotropaic gesture to ward off the evil eye when walking past Tony Blair's house). There was no sign of them. Also, these squares and the streets around them have no trees with berries that might attract Waxwings. The only berries are on a cotoneaster bush at the west end of the Marble Arch traffic island, near the site of the Tyburn Tree where so many people were hanged, and on a couple of small rowan trees several hundred yards to the west next to Albion Gate.

Anyway, there were other birds to see, including the Kingfisher on a bush on the west side of the Long Water near the Italian Garden, though he wouldn't come out from behind some twigs.

Also on the Long Water, a Cormorant somehow managed to perch on a very thin and wobbly branch, and flapped to keep its balance.

A pair of Feral Pigeons on the willow tree next to the bridge were clearly in love.

A Grey Heron was gathering twigs to build up one of the nests on the island.

The female Little Owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial was out enjoying the sunshine on a mild day.

But the one in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was on the shaded side of the branch and had retreated halfway into her hole, where she could only be seen from a considerable distance.