Friday, 23 June 2017

The young Great Crested Grebe was fishing near the island. It is beginning to grow flight feathers, and has the first sign of a black crest. It will keep its stripy head until the end of the year and then grow adult plumage, though it won't have the full magnificent headgear for another year.

Its father was nearby fishing under the pedalos, where fish like to lurk in the shade

At the nest in the fallen poplar on the Long Water, it was time to do a bit of housekeeping. Grebes' soggy nests slump slowly into the water, and have to be continually built up to keep them afloat.

The Little Grebes were calling to each other near the bridge, but disappeared into a reed bed before I could get up on to the bridge for a closer shot.

The intruding Mute Swan was back on the Long Water tearing up reeds to make a nest, which has also made it more visible.

The dominant female passing the reed bed with her cygnets must have seen it, but didn't intervene, and the male seemed to be leaving it alone too. Is he losing his grip on his territory? Over the years he has fought hard to retain it, surviving a dog attack and the loss of his first mate to a fox, and it seems unlikely that he would give up easily.

Inevitably, the Mallard has lost more ducklings to the gulls. She crossed in front of Peter Pan with three, and prudently hid them in the bushes on the other side.

But on the way she was chased by two drakes, and had to fly off and desert her young for a minute. Luckily they were right at the edge at the time, out of the reach of swooping gulls.

There was a surprise visit to the gravel bank by five male Pochards. The resident population is only three, or perhaps two now as I haven't seen the spare male for some time. Normally Pochards are winter migrants. Probably these ones have come from another park.

A Moorhen was feeding a chick next to the reed bed by the bridge.

At the far end of the Serpentine, a Greylag Goose reached up for a reed to chew.

In the shrubbery near the bridge, a young Magpie was pestering a parent for food.

On the shore below, a male Feral Pigeon was courting a female, billing and cooing and trotting round and round her until she was sufficiently bewildered to let him mate.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard came out on her branch for a short time, but it was windy and there were Magpies about, so she soon went back into her hole.

A rabbit was resting in the shade of the Henry Moore sculpture, but a Grey Heron landed on top of it and the rabbit dashed for cover.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

There is a new Egyptian Goose family on the Long Water. They were on the gravel bank at the Vista with eight goslings.

This is probably the pair that have bred once already this year and lost all their brood in a few days -- not the notoriously incompetent pair that have been trying to breed here for years, but still not skilled at parenthood.

The dominant Mute Swans were also on the gravel with their cygnets when another swan with four cygnets came under the bridge on to the Long Water.

I didn't wait to see the male dominant swan get off the bank and chase off the intruders. But he seems to have got rid of the swan that tried to nest in the reed bed yesterday.

The Mandarin family went past the bank. Only two ducklings are left, but they are now quite large and likely to survive.

There are still five Mallard ducklings on the Long Water. They were at Peter Pan, playing around a post on which their mother was preening.

The young Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine was fishing near the island.

The new grebe family were on the east side of the Long Water, where overhanging bushes provide excellent cover. Their mother arrived with a small fish for one of the chicks.

On the other side near the bridge, a Moorhen was feeding two chicks in a nest in the reed bed.

Two cygnets were preening on one of the plant rafts at the east end of the Serpentine -- not that there are many plants left here, as these have been ripped up by their parents. The raft is pitching up and down in the waves, giving an odd impression that the ground is moving.

One of the young Grey Wagtails was taking advantage of a brief sunny spell to bask in a flower bed at the Lido restaurant.

The other was on the shore by the restaurant terrace. Spilt food makes this an excellent place for the insects they eat.

The Blue Tits are moulting, and looking very tatty.

A young Jackdaw was being fed by its parent near the Italian Garden.

Jackdaws are breeding well here now, and their numbers are going up noticeably.

One of the young Carrion Crows on Buck Hill was being given a peanut.

A young Magpie in the Dell was begging for food from a parent.

There was no sign of the Little Owls, despite three visits to their chestnut tree. But there is some news about the Tawny Owls. Paul has heard them calling in a group of chestnut trees and one tall lime tree a few yards southwest of the Italian Garden, on the west side of the path that leads to the Physical Energy statue. He actually saw one fly over his head late one evening. Here is a sound recording he made of the male owl calling.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A pair of Little Grebes could be heard calling on the Long Water, but they remained hidden in the bushes. Eventually they came into sight a long way off.

They must be new arrivals, since their call is loud and distinctive and we'd have heard it they'd been here earlier.

Looking for them unexpectedly revealed a pair of Great Crested Grebes with three chicks, again far off on the far side of the lake. They clustered round their father ...

... until one of them sped off because it had seen its mother coming with a small fish.

This is not the pair of grebes nesting in the fallen poplar. They were there too, with one on the nest.

The Mute Swan family glided down the Long Water.

But behind them there was another surprise: another swan was making a nest in a reed bed.

The male of the first family was away chasing some intruding swans back under the bridge, and hadn't yet noticed the invasion of his territory. But there will have been trouble when he did.

A Mallard on the Long Water had five new ducklings. She was wisely keeping them next to the spiked railings at one end of the Peter Pan foreshore, so that gulls couldn't swoop on them.

But there were ten Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the posts, and she will have a job keeping her brood alive.

A Tufted Duck stood proudly in the middle of a group of Greylag Geese on the Serpentine.

He is still in his breeding plumage, though all the other drakes are losing their smart white sides and going into eclipse.

The pale Greylag snatched a piece of bread from the beak of another goose and made off at high speed to avoid retaliation.

The young Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine was taking time off from fishing and having a preen.

One of the Coot chicks from the nest on a post at the island was being fed.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was on the prowl and almost caught another victim, but he relaxed at the wrong moment and the pigeon flew free.

One of the young Grey Wagtails was on the edge of the lake at the Lido restaurant.

The white-faced Blackbird was on the fence every time I went past, expecting a treat of sultanas. Of course she always gets some.

It's almost time to buy another 500 gram packet of sultanas.

A Jay swooped down to the leaf yard fence to take a peanut. They have practised this manoeuvre and got it down to a fraction of a second.

The female Little Owl was a few yards away in her usual chestnut tree.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The young Great Crested Grebe is now diving in a thoroughly adult way.

Its constant activity must be due to its not being much good at fishing yet. It's a skill that has to be learnt.

Adults have plenty of time to relax. This one had come right into the edge of the Serpentine and was resting on the shore, an unusual sight for these completely aquatic birds.

A family of four small cygnets had been left alone by the bridge while their mother charged off for a pointless attack on another swan that had offended her in some way.

Perhaps the high casualties among cygnets this year are due to overcrowding of adults on the lake, and the resulting aggression leading to neglect of the young.

The eldest of the Canada goslings are now beginning to show the black and white facial pattern of adults.

Most of the adults are now quite well on with regrowing their flight feathers, as you can see when this goose finishes its wash with a flap.

The white Mallard drake is probably more comfortable in the hot sunshine than the darker normal birds, but he was still panting in the heat.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate hasn't been seen for some time, but she was back today by herself.

The carcase of a Feral Pigeon, which was being finished off by a Carrion Crow a short was along the shore, showed that she was not being neglected. Probably her mate was away looking for his next victim.

There were two Reed Warblers in the reed bed by the bridge.

They now breed in this small reed bed every year. They don't need a large area of reeds, as they are perfectly good at catching insects elsewhere, and are often seen flying in and out of the surrounding trees.

One of the young Grey Wagtails was hunting among the moulted feathers on the shore near the Lido restaurant.

A young Long-Tailed Tit, from a rather late brood, was with its family in some bushes near Queen's Gate.

One of the local family of Mistle Thrushes gave me a severe stare.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard was looking irritably at a Magpie that had landed in her tree.

There are lots of Meadow Brown butterflies in the long grass on Buck Hill.

Monday, 19 June 2017

It was another hot day, and the birds were doing their best to keep cool. A Carrion Crow was panting beside the Serpentine.

So was a Grey Heron on the Long Water.

But this one, on one of the rafts at the east end of the Serpentine, was vibrating its throat, like the Cormorant I filmed yesterday.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard, a bird at ease in the hot summers of southern Europe, was basking on a branch, occasionally looking around to make sure there weren't any Magpies in the tree.

Soon afterwards something disturbed her and she flew down to the nest hole.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet was feeding in the crabapple tree near the bridge. I didn't think that even a parakeet would be prepared to eat the tiny rock-hard apples that are a long way from ripeness. The picture shows that she was eating some little green pods that I can't identify but are evidently from a different plant.

A Wren was scolding loudly in the shade of a bush on the other side of the bridge. A closer look showed that it was carrying a beakful of insects. Evidently it didn't want to go to the nest to feed the young until the predator had gone away.

The Great Crested Grebes nesting on the island are now probably ten days from hatching their second clutch of eggs. Thanks again to the people at Bluebird Boats for giving me a quick trip over to see the nest.

When I had got out of the boat, the young grebe was heading briskly for the jetty. It dived underneath and didn't reappear, evidently surfacing in the space under the deck. It knows that fish shelter here, probably because in happier times when the parents were feeding it, it saw them diving.

The nest on the Long Water is still going well, and one of the grebes was turning over the eggs. I'm not sure when they were laid, but we might see some chicks in a fortnight.

The Mute Swan family on the Long Water were touting for food at Peter Pan.

We haven't had a picture of a Tufted Duck for a while. The drakes are looking shabby as they go into eclipse, so here is a female who has just finished preening near the Dell restaurant.

Several Emperor dragonflies were dashing around the Italian Garden, which seems to be their favourite spot.

The garden is also full of Common Blue damselflies, but this one was on a twig stuck in the outflow of the Serpentine.