Wednesday, 20 July 2016

A rarity today, but not a bird -- a Monarch butterfly. Tom saw it in Kensington Gardens, moving north from the Queen's Temple, and took this fine picture of it.


John Ferguson, who was with him, actually managed to catch it in flight.


Monarchs are very numerous in North America, but there is also a small population in the Azores, the Canaries and Madeira, and occasionally some get blown up to Britain.

I could only manage a Comma, at the foot of Buck Hill ...


... and a Meadow Grasshopper near Black Lion Gate.


Back to birds. There were three Grey Wagtails in the little pool at the top of the waterfall in the Dell, two adults and a young one, shown here.


The blockage of the water filter at the outflow of the Serpentine has left this pool shrunken, stagnant and smelly, but this has attracted insects, and that was why the wagtails were there. It also didn't stop a Wood Pigeon from bathing in it.


Below the waterfall, the little stream is the only place where the Westbourne river flows above ground. The resident pair of Moorhens have built a nest slap in the middle.


The Westbourne used to be a lively little stream, but its upper reaches in Paddington, Kilburn and Hampstead are now completely paved over and this has reduced the flow to a trickle, so even when the filter is cleaned there won't be enough current to wash the nest away.

The Moorhens in the Sunken Garden have nested for the third time, after losing their two previous broods.


A Starling was bathing in the reasonably clean water of the Serpentine.


The Reed Warblers near the bridge were moving around busily among the stems.


The Mute Swans encamped on the other side of the bridge are taking up more and more of the path. This one lay down in the middle and refused to budge when one of the electric buggies of Liberty drives came along. It irritably bit the front bumper.


The Black Swan is still looking after the cygnet, and the adult Mute Swan seems to have accepted the arrangement.


The male Little Owl in the chestnut tree was being scolded by two pairs of Blackbirds, which annoyed him so much that he retreated to his hole for a few minutes. When they had gone away he emerged, and after looking around carefully flew up to his favourite branch.


While this was going on, a Great Spotted Woodpecker perched for a moment on the top of a wellingtonia near the lake.

17 comments:

  1. Who would have thought that the once extremely bad tempered Black Swan would reinvent himself as "devoted dad"? Birding is never dull!

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    1. I'm sure he has further surprises for us.

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  2. Perhaps the Black Swan is feeling lonely. First the interspecies Girlfriend, now the adoptive son.

    If that unbudging Mute Swan were the driving sort, I am sure he would carry a sticker saying "I brake for nobody".

    Congratulations on the Monarch butterfly sighting!

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    1. Think you're right about the Black Swan. He has now settled in with the other swans but he will never be one of them.

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  3. What a wonderful collection of wildlife in one day in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. It shows you that there is no need to go to a National Nature Reserve, we have them all here in London and long may it continue with your Blog.

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    1. The closer you look at the park, the more you find going on in it. It never fails to amaze.

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  4. There are what I had loosely considered "dragonflies" by the bull rushes in the Italian Gardens - are they in fact damselflies?

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    1. Damselflies are smaller than dragonflies and have folding wings that can lie against their abdomen. Dragonflies' wings don't fold and always stick out sideways.

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  5. I am wondering about the Black Swan's motives. If the cygnet turns out to be a female, he may decide that she will eventually become his next girlfriend. And his current teenage Mute Swan girlfriend will then be yesterday's news. After all, he does seem to be a bit of a control freak... or am I being cynical and unfair?

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    1. I think all swans are control freaks. It would be good if he could get back to his girlfriend when she's ready to breed -- next year, the year after? -- and assuage his loneliness.

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  6. The butterflies are beautiful and yes, the black swan is certainly devoted and looking much happier these days! I've not seen many butterflies here in the north east yet this year - probably too cold and wet. Looking forward to see more of your wonderful photos of the new grebe family with the three chicks.

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    1. It's been a good year for butterflies. I saw a Small Skipper yesterday flying around a clump of ragwort, but it wouldn't stay still to be photographed.

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  7. Great pictures as usual. I love the swan biting the buggy! I didn't realise that the Westbourne comes out there. Our flat is built on top of it and we are continually fighting the damp that comes with it.
    The black swan is certainly a great character - very entertaining.

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    1. The Westbourne no longer flows into the Long Water. In the 19th century it was very smelly because of all the stuff thrown into its open upper reaches. When the Italian Garden was built in 1860, they rerouted the stream around the north edge of the park, a huge digging job because the pipe went up quite a steep hill. It now joins the Tyburn Brook (not the same as the Tyburn River, which is a mile to the east) and the two flow into the Serpentine below the Ranger's Lodge. Heavy rain causes them to flood and form a lake halfway up the hill. The Long Water is now fed from a borehole near the Italian Garden.

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  8. Just moved to the area, what a great blog !

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    1. Glad you found the blog Rich. Ralph is a veritable mine of fascinating information and intelligent insight. Not to mention terrific photos! I have learnt such a lot by following the blog, and it certainly adds to one's enjoyment of the parks themselves.

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