Monday, 16 July 2018

Both Tufted Duck families were in their usual place just to the east of the Lido. This is the older of the two  families, with five ducklings diving non-stop.

And this is the younger one, with six ducklings.

A few feet away, in the corner of the reed bed, a Mallard and her six ducklings relaxed and preened.

It's a sheltered spot, and shelter was needed as there were almost a hundred Herring Gulls on the Serpentine. The vast majority of them were juvenile or second year, a sign of how fast the population is expanding.

There were only two Lesser Black-Backed Gulls -- the pigeon killer and his mate -- and only half a dozen Black-Headed Gulls which came briefly over from the Long Water and soon returned. The Herring Gulls have really taken over here.

The Egyptian goslings at the Round Pond were sheltering from the hot sunlight under a bench.

This young Egyptian on the Serpentine has fully developed wings and is ready to fly. I haven't seen any trying yet, but soon they will be running along the path and flapping in an effort to get into the air.

A young Moorhen walking along a chain hadn't quite achieved the effortless balancing skill of an adult.

The Coots persist in their second vain attempt to nest at the outflow of the Serpentine, and have eggs. Inevitably the chicks will fall down the gap at the back of the nest into the weir.

The three Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge were fully fed and quietly preening alongside one of their parents.

The Little Grebes were calling on the Long Water and I got a distant glimpse of one of them. Throwing lifebelts into the lake is a favourite pastime of pea-brained youths.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was hard to find in the upper chestnut tree.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the small American oak tree next to it. This young one's tail is already a bit frayed from brushing through the leaves.

A White-Tailed Bumblebee climbed through thistledown to get to a flower that was still in working order.

A Common Carder bee found a younger flower.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Tufted Duck family with five ducklings, not seen for three days, made a miraculous reappearance at the east end of the Lido. Here are the two families together.

The five ducklings, which are about two weeks old, have grown quickly.

The six, about a week old, are still tiny.

The Egyptian gosling on the Serpentine which got lost and was adopted into another family has wandered off again, and was by itself near the bridge. This vague behaviour bodes ill for its survival.

But the prize for vagueness must surely go to the first Egyptians to arrive in the park, who in fifteen years have not managed to raise a single gosling. The pair were near the Italian Garden eating duckweed.

The dominant male Mute Swan on the Long Water attacked a couple of Greylag Geese who, through no fault of their own, were between him and his cygnets.

Another male swan on the Serpentine went for a dog that its idiotic owner had let into the water in front of him. The dog fled.

One of the Great Crested Grebes nesting on the island got off the nest to repair it, revealing at least two eggs.

The pair near the bridge with three chicks were invisible under the overhanging bushes, but the pair with two chicks could be seen opposite Peter Pan.

The Coots' nest in the reeds under the Italian fountain has four rapidly growing chicks in it, here visited by a parent.

A Grey Heron's life calls for patience. It can wait for hours under the fountain for  a glimpse of a fish through the water weed.

Or it can hang around the terrace of the Dell restaurant looking for tasty titbits, and then just get a bit of dry pizza crust.

Wood Pigeons are gorging on unripe elderberries.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard looked down from his usual tree.

This Emperor dragonfly is already a bit tattered. They only live a few months as adults, but it's an exciting life of hunting and mating.

This Black-Tailed Skimmer has not converted to vegetarianism. The fruit is just something convenient to hold on to during a brief rest.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Mallard family with two blond ducklings was under the trees at the island.

But by the time I had got round to the other side of the lake they had moved over to a place near the bridge, a dangerous journey over 300 yards of open water with Herring Gulls circling overhead. It's not clear why their mother is so restless.

The white Mallard who may be the father of the brood was up the other end of the lake with his male companion.

The Mallard drakes are going into eclipse, but in the case of the white Mallard you can't tell, because his eclipse plumage is no different. However, when he gets a new set of feathers they are cream coloured, fading to white in a couple of months.

The Tufted Duck family was east of the Lido as usual, with the six ducklings obediently following their mother.

This is one of the ducklings, beaded with water from its last dive.

But there was no sign of the other family anywhere.

One of the three Greylag goslings being brought up by Canada Geese flapped its almost completely developed wings. A bit of preening will be needed to rub the wrappings off the new flight feathers and make them ready for a first attempt to take off.

This pale Greylag is often seen at the Lido restaurant.

Oddly, the other blond greylag, which is paler than this one and quite conspicuous, is seldom seen. Nor is the Bar-Headed Goose. They have to be here because they are moulting and still flightless, but they have found some secluded place where they are unobserved.

The Great Crested Grebes at the bridge were tending their three chicks. One chick got a fish, another got a feather to help its digestion.

The family on the Long Water could be seen on the east side.

But nothing seems to be happening in the nest in the fallen poplar at the Vista, although it's been there since the beginning of June.

A pair of Coots have started building a nest in a small clump of reeds in one of the Italian Garden fountains.

It seems that the new strong fences around the clumps of plants have kept them from nesting there, although the Moorhens, which can climb much better, find the fences no obstacle at all. I saw one going into one of the enclosures, and I think they are nesting again.

The occupants of the Coot nest under the willow near the bridge had to leave when a Grey Heron decided that this was a good place to fish.

A family of Long-Tailed Tits whizzed through a hawthorn tree at the foot of Buck Hill.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual chestnut tree again. The female hasn't appeared for some time.

A Brown Hawker dragonfly hunted under the parapet of the Italian Garden. It only stayed a few minutes, not long enough for me to get a better picture. Photographing dragonflies in flight is a chancy business and you have to take a lot of pictures, hoping that one of them will be good.

Friday, 13 July 2018

It was another hot day. A Moorhen on a post at Peter Pan was panting to keep cool.

So was a Mandarin on a branch, although she was in the shade.

A new Mallard family at the bridge has two blond ducklings. Pale Mallards are not uncommon in both sexes and are quite varied in appearance. Virginia suggested that the father of this one might be the white Mallard drake. Certainly he hasn't been seen with his mate recently, so she might have been nesting.

The Tufted Duck family with six ducklings was in the usual place and in good order.

But something has happened to the family with five. Two of the ducklings were alone, not far away from the other family.

Two days ago, when the ducklings were straggling widely on the lake, Virginia saw their mother heading off to the island followed by only three of them. It looks as if she has forgotten about these two. The mother of the other family won't adopt them, and I've seen her chasing them away.

More bad news: two of the Mute Swan cygnets on the Long Water are developing angel wing. So is a Canada gosling on the Serpentine. I've not seen any species other than Egyptian Geese with this deformity in the park before, but it's known to affect many species, not just waterfowl. There are conflicting theories about the cause: some say it's hereditary, others that it's caused by bad diet, especially the white bread that visitors persist in feeding the birds. When it affects only one wing, it's always the left one, which suggests heredity.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge are thriving on the fish that their devoted parents constantly bring them.

Parents remember which chick has been fed last, so the stronger, pushy chicks don't get all the fish. In this sequence showing the same family, a chick comes up to take a fish but the parent holds the fish under water before turning round to feed another chick.

The two chicks on the Long Water were having a quieter time, but they too get fed regularly.

A second Coot nest has gone up on the posts at Peter Pan. There were only Black-Headed Gulls on the posts, which are too small to be dangerous to Coots, but any time a Herring Gull or a Lesser Black-Back feels like eating an egg or a chick it has only to turn up. No Coot nest on these posts has ever succeeded.

A Carrion Crow fed a worm to its large fledgling. The young go on demanding food for a long time, when perfectly capable of finding their own.

A Wood Pigeon settled in a bramble patch and started looking for ripe blackberries.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual tree.

A White-Tailed Bumblebee was frantically rushing around in a rose. It repeated this with several roses, never slowing down.

Bees are not very keen on the roses in the Rose Garden, which are mostly tight double ones that are hard to get into and probably don't have much pollen or nectar anyway. But a fairly simple rose of a gaudy fuchsia colour attracted a Honeybee.

Small wildflowers, especially purple ones, are more popular. This White-Tailed Bumblebee has got covered with pollen, which is useful to the plant as it will get brushed off on the pistil of another flower and fertilise it.

A Large White butterfly was drinking nectar from the same plant.