Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Black Swan got too close to the dominant male Mute Swan on the Long Water, and was attacked. He left at once and went on to the Serpentine, where things are a bit more peaceful.

There he had a comforting preening session. When he saw me he came over to be fed.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose was also preening. She is the only Egyptian in the park with these pale grey wings and tail. All the others, including the ones with white heads, have dark brown feathers.

A young Great Crested Grebe was fishing near the island. This picture shows it about to dive, with its feathers clenched down to make it less buoyant, so that its shoulders are under water.

A Grey Heron on a holly tree looked up in annoyance as a noisy police helicopter passed overhead.

A Robin was singing in several places in the Rose Garden. There was another Robin singing nearby, so he felt the need to establish his territory.

Two Little Owls were visible today. This is the female of the pair near the Albert Memorial, looking out of her usual hole in the oak tree.

And here is the female near the leaf yard, on her old favourite branch on the west corner of the chestnut, photographed from under the tree.

A Magpie was eating berries in one of the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

Blackbirds have a different feeding technique from Mistle Thrushes. They go inside the tree and reach out to take the berries. Mistle Thrushes perch on top of the bunches and reach down.

This Mistle Thrush was taking time off eating, and having a preen. It was in exactly the same place as the one I photographed doing the same yesterday, and is quite likely the same bird.

When I was looking over the top of the Dell into the little pool, there was a movement under a purple flower. It was a small rat dragging a mini sausage roll into a secluded spot where it could eat it in peace.

A Greenbottle fly perched on a purple leaf in a herbaceous border in the Dell.

Monday, 18 September 2017

This is one of the Little Grebes on the Long Water, seen at Peter Pan. They are much less shy than Little Grebes normally are, which suggests that they have flown in from Regent's Park, where there are some exceptionally bold ones. This seems to be a third Little Grebe. The earlier picture published on Saturday 16th shows an adult in breeding plumage and a juvenile. This is an adult in winter plumage.

The Black Swan had also come on to the Long Water. He was having trouble with the dominant male Mute Swan, whose reflection can be seen in the background, but still had time to come over for his daily treat of birdseed.

A Mute Swan sleeping on the shore of the Serpentine was ruffled by the wind.

The male Tufted Ducks are coming out of eclipse and regrowing the smart white sides of their breeding plumage.

One of the three Great Crested Grebe chicks from the nest by the bridge was on an abandoned Coot nest, playing at nest making by picking up bits of stuff and rearranging them. Clearly this behaviour is hard wired into their brain -- just as it is with Coots and Mute Swans, which can't stop messing around with their nests even when they are complete.

There was a lot of activity in the rowan trees on Buck Hill. Here is a Mistle Thrush preening before going down to eat some more berries.

A Magpie was picking up fallen berries under the tree.

And there were two birds I haven't photographed here before: a Long-Tailed Tit scratching its ear ...

... and a Treecreeper climbing the rowan trunk.

Both these pictures were taken in the dark interior of the tree, so they aren't good.

Usually I don't photograph my regular customers in the leaf yard because you can't feed and photograph at the same time. But today I was there with Johanna, who kindly fed them. This male Great Tit ...

... and Robin ...

almost always come out when I visit.

When Rose-Ringed Parakeets eat catalpa beans, the first step is to bite through the stem to detach the pod.

Then it is held in a foot and split to expose the beans.

Another thing that Feral Pigeons won't eat: sweet potato. They don't like watery fruits and vegetables.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Starling on the Lido restaurant terrace paused between raids on the tables to enjoy a thorough preen.

A Coal Tit attacked a gall on a tree near the bridge, removing the insect larva that it contained.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits flew out of the Dell and along the trees bordering the Serpentine.

A Carrion Crow played idly with a leaf in the water.

A dozen Mistle Thrushes on Buck Hill were prospecting for worms in the grass.

The small perch on the feeder in the Rose Garden is designed to make it difficult for any bird much bigger than a tit to perch on it. But a Rose-Ringed Parakeet will always find a way.

The song came from the Robin who owns this bush, now in full voice after the late summer lull.

The Grey Heron at the Dell restaurant had taken the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's favourite perch. There isn't much a gull can do when a heron moves in.

One of the Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water brought a fish to a chick under the willow next to the bridge.

A male Egyptian Goose makes a harsh call that sometimes sounds like hoarse panting. He is at the back in this clip. A female quacks. Males are usually a bit larger than females, but there is some overlap.

A Greylag Goose looked at a bit of mandarin orange that someone had thrown to it, and rejected it.

But it was a surprise to see that a Feral Pigeon wouldn't touch it either.

This pigeon has a Rorschach test on its back.

The female Little Owl at the Leaf Yard was in her usual tree, though not in a good place for a picture. Shortly after I took this, a Magpie buzzed her and she retreated into her hole.

A Sunday afternoon concert by the Crooks Saxophone Quartet in the bandstand in Kensington Gardens. They were at pains to point out that a crook is part of a saxophone.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

One of the two Little Grebes on the Long Water is a young one. Virginia sent me this fine picture which clearly shows its juvenile stripes. It is probably old enough to have flown in, since there was absolutely no sign of them breeding here.

The Great Crested Grebes with a new family on the Long Water were having a territorial dispute with their neighbours. As usual in these affairs, they took the chicks along with them. This both provides an advantage in the display and teaches the chicks what being a grebe is about.

A pair of Gadwalls were feeding on the Long Water. Unlike their near relatives the promiscuous and quarrelsome Mallards, they stay with their mates and are even tempered.

A lone female Shoveller was going round and round by herself.

It wasn't a good day for seeing birds on the Serpentine, as hundreds of swimmers were thrashing round and round in a series of races.

But the Black Swan was calm enough beside the Dell restaurant, and came over for some birdseed.

A Black-Headed Gull hovered gracefully, waiting for someone to throw a bit of bread for it to catch in the air.

There was a call in the Dell and a Grey Wagtail flashed past. It paused for a moment on a little rock in the stream. It's surprisingly well camouflaged: even the bright yellow blends in.

A Robin in the Rose Garden was singing fit to bust, as there was a rival in the next bush.

When tits eat seeds, they don't swallow them whole, not even small seeds. They hold them down with their feet and delicately peck tiny bits out of them. Here at work are a Great Tit ...

... a Blue Tit ...

... and a Coal Tit.

A Grey Heron posed elegantly at the very top of a tall conifer across the path from the leaf yard. I think it's a deodar.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard was in her usual tree, but hard to see. She and her mate were exchanging calls. He was in a tree on the other side of the path, and couldn't be seen at all.

The strangely prolific patch of wood chips near the Physical Energy statue produced some tiny Bird's Nest fungi. These are quite different in form from conventional mushrooms. The top of the fruiting body is covered with a membrane that breaks, revealing a cup-shaped structure containing several oval pore dispensers known as peridioles, looking like eggs in a nest. These ones are past their best, but you can still see some of the 'eggs' in place, especially on the right side of the picture.

Mario tells me that this mushroom seen on Buck Hill is a Pleated Inckcap, Parasola (formerly Coprinus) plicatilis, also known as the Little Japanese Umbrella.

Friday, 15 September 2017

A Great Tit ...

... and a Blue Tit were hopping around in the rowan trees on Buck Hill.

In the second picture you can see that some of the fruit has been pecked, but I couldn't see the Blue Tit doing it. I was wondering whether it was picking the pips out, as Chaffinches do. But probably both birds were just looking for insects, perhaps attracted to the spilt sugary juice of the pecked fruit.

Under the rowan, a young Blackbird searched for insects and worms in the grass next to the hawthorn hedge. They seem to be particularly fond of hawthorn, and also gather in a nearby hawthorn tree.

More feeding that is difficult to observe: a Moorhen chick searched through algae in one of the Italian Garden ponds. You seldom see what they're getting out of it, but it must be tiny invertebrates such as Daphnia.

The grass under the Henry Moore sculpture has been newly mown, and a Magpie sifted through the cuttings for insects.

Encouraged by the sunshine, a Chiffchaff was singing at the top of a very tall horse chestnut tree. I took a distant picture without being able to see the bird, and was lucky enough to get it in the picture.

The friendly Robin beside the Long Water took six pine nuts from my hand, a record.

Both the Dunnocks came out under the feeder in the Rose Garden to pick up spilt birdseed.

So did a mouse.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was out on her usual branch, looking small, round, and immensely regal, like Queen Victoria.

A Black-Headed Gull was also looking stately on an urn in the Italian Garden.

These gulls have a curious display, done in pairs, with wings held out slightly at the front. Clearly this is meant to make them look larger and more impressive, and I think it's a status display.

A young Great Crested Grebe fished under the pedalos at Bluebird Boats. You seldom see grebes of this age catch anything, as they are far less good at fishing than their expert elders. This is a testing time for the young birds, as they have to get enough to keep them alive until they become more skilled.

Two Cormorants dived in unison in the Long Water.