Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Today's most interesting news comes without a picture. Yesterday evening Des McKenzie heard two Tawny Owls calling in the Flower Walk. I looked around there today and predictably saw nothing, but will go back shortly when it is getting dark.

Update: I heard a Tawny Owl calling several times somewhere near the Physical Energy statue at 8.25pm. I was in the Flower Walk at the time and went towards the sound, but it stopped so I can't be any more specific about the place. Anyway, I got a picture of the moon over the Albert Memorial.

Back to the daytime: the two surviving young Grey Herons, perhaps shocked by the death of their sibling, retreated to their nest. The adult heron on the left is their next door neighbour.

One of last year's young herons was on the ornamental rock in near the Italian Garden, delicately sipping water while keeping an eye out for fish.

A Mallard drake preened on the edge of the little stream in the Dell as a shoal of large carp browsed in front of him.

Two Mandarin drakes at the Vista, having nothing better to do while their mates were nesting, chased off a pair of Gadwalls.

The male Mute Swan of the dominant pair on the Long Water dug up the bottom of their little island, which they have steadily been destroying since it was made for them three years ago.

There have been no further casualties among the Egyptian Geese, and the total number of goslings remains at seven.

This is a long view of the very large Coot nest at the Dell restaurant. As with an iceberg, only a small part shows above the surface.

The Coot on the nest at Peter Pan was performing an odd foot-flipping routine.

A male Moorhen chased his mate in the Dell.

The park Moorhens, completely used to people, tend to lie on the edge of the path, not budging even if you walk within inches of them.

One of the Great Crested Grebes nesting at the east end of the island sat peacefully on the eggs.

Its mate was doing absolutely nothing. Grebes, like tigers, are such highly efficient hunters that they spend most of their time resting. One foot trails in the water to keep station, the other is tucked up under the wing.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was temporarily away from his hunting ground, and the Feral Pigeons could bathe and preen. But when he returned, the shore was deserted.

When you see a single pigeon in a tree, it's likely to be a Stock Dove rather than a Feral Pigeon. They are slightly smaller and always a standard grey colour, and have dark eyes.

A Long-Tailed Tit looked down from a twig in the Dell.

The shy Coal Tit in the leaf yard hung around waiting for a chance to take a pine nut off the railings.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

A Wren sang loudly from a branch beside the Long Water.

So did a Blackcap, but there was too much background noise for a recording.

A female Dunnock sat on a twig at the Lido while her mate serenaded her from inside a bush.

A Blackbird was collecting worms and insects to feed his young near the Italian Garden.

A Mistle Thrush near the Serpentine Gallery was also searching.

The little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall is a favourite drinking place for birds and squirrels.

One of the young Grey Herons was fishing, or trying to fish.

Another was in the nest. But the third, sadly, was lying dead at the edge of the island. There was also a dead Greylag Goose on the shore. Neither of the bodies seemed mangled as if a fox had swum across and got them.

The Egyptian families are down to three goslings, another three, and just one.

A Mute Swan is nesting on the southwest corner of the island.

There is also a nest on the opposite corner, and presumably one in the middle out of sight behind the bushes, as there is every year. Three nests seems to be the maximum that swans' territorial instincts will allow on this fairly spacious island.

The Coots on the nest near the bridge have five eggs.

Another Coot hauled a fair-sized branch across the lake and under the bridge to a nest somewhere on the Long Water.

The one at the Dell restaurant, having nothing better to do, fussed about how to arrange a leaf on the nest.

It's just possible to see the head of the Moorhen in the nest in the hawthorn tree on the restaurant terrace. They have lost one chick, which fell out of the nest prematurely, but they are still nesting so evidently there are more.

The last few seconds in the life of a caterpillar. I can't identify the species of this rather nondescript creature.

Tom was at Blue House Farm in Essex, where he got a fine picture of an Avocet on her nest with eggs.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Two Coots enjoyed a splashy fight on the Serpentine.

Mateusz at Bluebird Boats has been observing Coots building nests in odd places. Here is his close-up of the nest on a sunken pedalo that I photographed earlier from the far side of the lake.

Near it a Coot has nested on a lifebelt.

And this one keeps trying to nest on the boat platform, in spite of its attempts being destroyed every morning when the platform is jet washed.

It would not be kind to let the Coot complete the nest, because the chicks would fall off the platform into the lake and not be able to get back. One year Mateusz made a little ramp for them to get up, but they didn't understand what it was for.

Now that two pairs of Great Crested Grebes have nests at the east end of the island ...

... and the west end ...

... the non-sitting birds can amuse themselves by chasing each other up and down the intervening space trying to claim more territory.

It achieves nothing, and the invisible frontier remains halfway along the island.

The Canada Geese which tried and failed to nest on the Mute Swans' little island in the Long Water have settled for a site on the bank. One was pulling up grass stems to make the nest more comfortable.

Joan Chatterley visited St James's Park, where the Black Swans still have one cygnet, now visibly larger.

Common Pochards are normally winter visitors, but a little flock has turned up on the Serpentine.

The two pairs of Mandarins remain on the Serpentine, and it looks as if the females are now nesting in trees, as only the drakes can be seen.

They come here from the Regent's Canal where there is a fair-sized flock. Here is a group of drakes photographed there by Jon Ferguson.

Jon also took this picture of a Cormorant on the canal. The water may be murky but it is full of fish.

A Blackbird ...

... and a Starling eyed the camera suspiciously.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was out on the branch that has her nest hole.

The rabbits on Buck Hill have almost been wiped out by foxes and myxomatosis, but there was a pair in good spirits this morning.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

A Chiffchaff was unusually clearly visible in a holly tree near the bridge. It was presumably female, as it didn't sing.

A Blackcap showed well beside the Long Water.

A Wren ran up a tree almost as fast as a Treecreeper.

A Chaffinch perched on a branch above the feeder in the Rose Garden, occasionally flying down to collect spilt seeds.

A Grey Wagtail looked for insects beside the terrace of the Lido restaurant. Restaurant terraces have spilt food which attracts insects, so you often see wagtails here.

This Wood Pigeon has been hanging around the pedalos at Bluebird Boats for several days. It's not clear what it likes about them.

The female Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was in front of her hole.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was in the tree to the west of the pair's new nest tree.

Later she moved back to the nest tree. The nest is on the back of this part of the branch, invisible from the ground.

A pair of Magpies building a nest in a small tree nearby were not at all pleased by the arrival of a Carrion Crow. It took no notice of their angry calls.

Worries about the third young Heron proved to be groundless. All three were visible on the island, one temporarily back in the nest ...

... one looking for fish ...

... and one hoping to find a rat in the nettles.

Clearly their hunting instincts are sound, but they are probably not finding much yet.

The high nest on the south side of the island, visible only from the far side of the lake, had a heron in it again. However, I don't think that herons plan to nest here. It looks like an old Magpie nest, just being used as a comfortable place to stand.

A Little Grebe cruised past Peter Pan.

The Coot at the Dell restaurant had added a white moist wipe packet to the nest, and a Mute Swan feather in addition to those that had washed up at the edge. Evidently, like Gertrude Jekyll, it likes an all-white colour scheme, unlike the gaudy tastes of other Coots.

An Egyptian Goose beside the Serpentine rested with three goslings. They have lost one since yesterday. There are a lot of Herring Gulls on the lake, and it's far from sure that any goslings will survive from the present broods.

A female Gadwall stared from a post at the Vista.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, and got a fine picture of one of the local Barn Owls carrying a mouse or vole. There is one pair here in a nest box.