Friday, 24 February 2017

The Great Crested Grebes which I photographed yesterday vainly trying to make a nest in choppy waves have actually succeeded now that the wind has dropped, and have built the usual hastily constructed mess just strong enough to stand on.

They were mating, but this was impossible to photograph as there was just one viewpoint through the branches.

We've had pictures of Coot fights before, but this odd-looking picture shows a Coot winning its fight by submerging its opponent.

A second afterwards, the loser surfaced and ran away.

A Moorhen was poking carefully at a leaf in the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall. Closer inspection shows that it was picking little yellow grubs off it.

A pair of Mandarins turned up at Peter Pan when someone was feeding the ducks.

The others remained invisible in the bushes.

There was a gull feeding frenzy for chunks of bread on the Serpentine.

The Kingfisher was back on his favourite branch in the dead willow next to the Italian Garden.

A Long-Tailed Tit perched for a moment on the peculiar winged elm tree which is next to the willow, and equally dead.

It's not clear why these trees died, but it may have been damage to the roots when people were working on the place where the borehole feeds water into the Long Water.

All the Redwings were on the Parade Ground feeding under the trees and on the new turf in front of them.

There was also a Pied Wagtail.

A Goldcrest was singing in a tree near the Long Water, and made a brief appearance.

A Nuthatch was also singing in the leaf yard, and came down to take food from the railings.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was sunning herself.

And the one near the Henry Moore sculpture was obstinately staying on the shaded side of the branch.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

It was very windy. The Great Tits and Blue Tits in the leaf yard were exceptionally hungry, evidently because the wind had reduced their insect supply, and poured out in crowds to take food from my hand. They had no difficulty in flying, and executed neat crosswind landings that an airline pilot would have been proud of.

A Jay in the leaf yard clung to a tree trunk, waiting to be given a peanut.

The Coot nesting near the bridge stood grimly on its nest as it tossed around and bits blew away.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were crazily trying to build a nest in the waves under the willow tree near the bridge.

The grebes at their nest on the island were completely sheltered and the water was flat calm.

A young Herring Gull was nonchalantly playing with a leaf as the waves bucketed it up and down on the Serpentine.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull landed in his usual place with a fresh caught perch in his bill. He must have caught it by diving for it. He didn't offer to share it with his mate.

Shortly afterwards he could be seen flying around looking down, like a gigantic tern.

There were lots of Redwings on the Parade Ground.

Two pairs of Dunnocks were flitting around inside the big hornbeam hedge that encloses the twisty path at Kensington Palace. One of them came out on the grass.

The Egyptian gosling at the Henry Moore sculpture incautiously wandered out through the railings as people walked by on the path.

The Mute Swans' nest in the reed bed by the Diana fountain is an on-off affair, but today both swans were on it, stamping down and tearing up reeds.

A pair of Gadwalls were cruising around among the windblown leaves in one of the Italian Garden ponds.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

This is the last picture of the escaped Budgerigar, for she is now back in captivity.

Her owner, who couldn't come to the park, had sent his neighbour with a net and a travelling cage to recapture her. He tried for several hours, only succeeding in making the bird thoroughly wary. Then Jorgen, who has a way with birds, turned up and coaxed her down.  This was probably a good move, as she might not have survived the forecast storm and high winds.

The Coots' nest at the bridge is most unlikely to weather the storm, as it was already rocking perilously in today's moderate wind. It had been decorated with a bit of red plastic, Coots' favourite colour.

Perhaps they will rebuild it afterwards in a more sensible place, though I doubt it.

A Cormorant a few feet away caught a perch.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island have built their nest in a sheltered and stormproof place inside the ring of floating plant baskets, and it is further protected by have boats moored to the posts in front of it. They were displaying on the open water outside after chasing off a neighbour.

A Mute Swan came down on the water near the bridge. As they descend they dangle their feet until their toes touch the water, and only then do they bring their feet into a forward position to waterski to a halt. This is necessary because when the water surface is smooth it's impossible to tell how far away it is.

The Egyptian gosling at the Henry Moore sculpture miraculously survived another night, reaching the impressive age of one week. Although it has grown noticeably, it is far from being out of danger from crows and gulls. Its silly mother was letting it wander all over the place.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull (left) and his mate were in their usual hunting ground near the Dell restaurant. They now have their fine breeding plumage, with pure white heads, and were looking very fine. The pigeons were giving them a wide berth.

There are still plenty of Redwings on the Parade Ground.

A Mistle Thrush was singing occasionally near the Serpentine Gallery. There's a resident pair here who nest every year.

A Robin in the Rose Garden perched in a bush whose mauve blossom clashed horribly with it. Undaunted by this, it sang at the top of its voice.

The male Dunnock of the pair by the Lido ticket office sang from the fence of the upper garden.

His mate poked around under the red stems of a bush -- I think it's dogwood.

A Pied Wagtail was sprinting about on the manicured turf of the Diana fountain enclosure.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

There was a surprise visitor to the leaf yard, a blue Budgerigar, which was going around with the Rose-Ringed Parakeets. In spite of being much smaller than them, it was refusing to be dominated. Obviously an escape from a house, it was very tame with people, and we took turns to feed it. It ate a great deal, and when I came by later it was still taking food from the visitors.

Sparrowhawks -- a male and a female, but we never see them together as a pair -- often pass over Kensington Gardens in the middle of the morning. This time the visitor was being harassed by Carrion Crows. In this distant picture the hawk looks almost the same size as the crow, but this is an illusion caused by it being nearer the camera. It was quite small and presumably male.

Another crow, I think Melissa, was bathing in the marble fountain in the Italian Garden when Virginia took this fine picture.

Just round the corner, a Jay gripped a tree trunk, waiting to be given a peanut.

There was no sign of the Kingfisher today, because there was a Grey Heron in the dead willow tree where it likes to perch. Higher up in the tree, a Mistle Thrush paused in the middle of preening.

The Nuthatches that come to the leaf yard were away in a tree where they may be nesting. The male sang from the top of the tree.

There were about 40 Redwings on the Parade Ground, hauling up worms from the well stocked rough grass under the trees.

Two Wrens came out of the bushes togther at the northeast corner of the bridge. They were probably mates but not a pair, as Wrens are polygamous.

Both the Little Owls at the Henry Moore sculpture were visible outside their hole.

The Egyptian Geese here still have their one gosling after six days, twice as long as they have ever managed before in 12 years.

The Mandarins at Peter Pan, which have been hard to see over the past few days, came out to be photographed. There were three males and two females, and perhaps others were lurking in the bushes.

A Cormorant caught a fair-sized perch.

The newly arrived Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine are sorting themselves into pairs and claiming territory. These are displaying after chasing off a neighbour.