Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Grey Herons wait looking down into the water for what seems like an eternity. I took a routine picture because the background was pretty and walked on.

A moment later there was a sudden lunge, and the heron had grabbed a fair-sized roach.

It's impossible to tell the species of fish that this Cormorant caught on the Serpentine, as it came up thickly wrapped in algae.

One of the foods most liked by many birds in the park is, oddly, Cheesy Wotsits. Perhaps they find the bright orange colour interesting. Mute Swans and Canada Geese were enthusiastically scooping them up ...

... and a Black-Headed Gull seized one and was promptly chased by the other gulls.

The Black Swan was following one of the Mute Swan cygnets, as usual.

There were 19 Pochards on the Long Water, mostly male.  It's too early for migrant Pochards to arrive, and there are only two residents, usually on the Serpentine. They must have come in from one of the other parks.

The pale hybrid goose tends to stand in front of its Canada mate in a defensive attitude. Presumably it's the male of the pair -- though this makes little difference, as he's certainly sterile and there will be no odd-coloured goslings.

A Greylag Goose was washing on the Serpentine. Vigorous splashing and flapping helps to dislodge parasites.

A Carrion Crow was dealing with its parasites in a different way, by sunbathing. This encourages the bugs to come to the surface, where they can be picked or shaken off.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull visited the Long Water with his mate, followed by their offspring. Although he often comes here, I've not seen him hunting and I don't know where he does it on this largely tree-lined lake.

Later he returned to his usual perch on the roof of the Dell restaurant, where pigeons are plentiful.

One of the young Robins in the Rose Garden turned up to be fed. I haven't got it coming to my hand yet.

Some visitors turned up to see the Little Owl at the leaf yard, and she looked down at the sound of an unfamiliar voice.

At the outflow of the Serpentine, an Emperor dragonfly took a rest from hunting.

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Moorhens at the Serpentine bridge still have five of their original six chicks. They have done much better than the Coots from the nest in the same place, who have lost all the chicks from two broods.

The Black Swan was nearby, on his own. The Mute Swan who is the mother of the four cygnets had taken them up the lake. She has not been attacking him when he hangs around her family, but she may consider him a bad influence.

Some swans flew to the other end of the lake and descended elegantly on the water.

One of the young Greylag Geese sprawled on the shore, preening its wing.

A Cormorant caught several carp in front of the place where the fishermen usually sit, catching nothing.

A Great Crested Grebe was pursued by a chick under the Serpentine bridge. The other parent is sitting on a new clutch of eggs on the far side of the bridge.

A Starling was foraging up the shore, looking very fine in the sunshine.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was in the same place as yesterday. She seems to have abandoned what used to be her usual branch, perhaps not surprisingly as there were a lot of Magpies around.

A family of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees near the Albert Memorial.

In the Rose Garden, a Great Tit, a Coal Tit and a juvenile Robin took turns at a feeder while a Dunnock on the ground underneath picked up the spillage. This feeder is not operated by the park. A kind woman set it up and fills it regularly.

A Honeybee and a Comma butterfly enjoyed the flowers and the sunshine.

An Emperor dragonfly was hunting at the east end of the Serpentine.

A mess of ripped-off oak leaves and acorns on the path near the Henry Moore statue showed that the squirrels were eating young acorns in their usual destructive manner.

Both Grey Squirrels and Rose-Ringed Parakeets seem unable to feed in a tree without vandalising it.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Great Crested Grebes from the Serpentine island passed their nest site with the three chicks in full cry.

One of the Moorhen chicks on the Long Water checked the algae on a post to see there were any bugs in it. They are both being fed by the parents and foraging for themselves.

The Coots' nest in the middle of the Long Water was completely destroyed by heavy rain a few days ago. Its owners are busily and pointlessly rebuilding it from scratch.

A Tufted Duck dived in front of Peter Pan.

The Black Swan, chased away from the Mute Swan cygnets by their father, came back within seconds.

A Grey Heron decided to land on the gravel strip on the Long Water, although it was covered with gulls. The gulls just had to get out of the way.

A female Blackcap was making loud chipping noises from a holly tree near the Italian Garden.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits swept through the trees near the bridge.

A Wood Pigeon was eating blackberries.

If you look closely at their odd pale eyes, you can see that the pupil, which looks keyhole-shaped, is actually round and there is a dark mark on the inner edge of the iris.

There were only a few people feeding the Rose-Ringed Parakeets next to the leaf yard, in spite of it being a sunny Sunday during the school holidays. Some Jackdaws, driven out of the area by the disturbance, came back. This one strutted around impatiently waiting for me to stop photographing and produce a peanut.

The female Little Owl was again on the south side of the chestnut tree. The leaves are denser here, and it gives better cover from Magpies.

Late in the season, the Meadow Brown butterflies are getting tattered.

But this Comma was still in good shape.

Surrounded by flowers in the Rose Garden, a Honeybee chose to spend a couple of minutes going over a dead one. I have no idea what it was finding on this shrivelled object.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A Common Tern appeared on the Long Water. They are only occasional visitors, coming down from the Grand Union Canal. It caught a fish.

A Cormorant was also fishing here , and caught a small pike (shown here) and a perch in quick succession.

It was then attacked by another Cormorant, but had already swallowed the perch.

A third Cormorant jumped on to a wooden post to dry its wings.

Young Great Crested Grebes learn to fish by following their parents under water and copying them.

But they have to teach themselves to fly. The takeoff is the tricky part, involving a 50 yard run if there's no headwind to help them. Today there was a wind, and it encouraged this bird to have a go. It didn't get off the water.

Two Moorhens were fighting on the Serpentine. This time the Coots were content to remain as spectators. Often they join in.

A Moorhen was feeding two of her chicks at the Vista. The kerb is too high for them to jump on to, so they were having to stretch up to reach her.

Another Moorhen has taken over the abandoned Coot nest in the boathouse, which has never succeeded because the chicks fall into the water and can't get back up to the platform. I don't think the Moorhen will fare any better.

The Black Swan is now constantly accompanying the four Mute Swan cygnets at the west end of the Serpentine.

Some Grey Herons on Buck Hill were being fed, and having a mild squabble.

A Coal Tit at the feeder in the Rose Garden spilled a good deal of bird seed, which was picked up by a Dunnock and the strayed racing pigeon.

Tom saw and photographed a Great Spotted Woodpecker next to the leaf yard.

Both Little Owls were visible here. This is the male, who is seldom seen at the moment ...

... and this is the female, having a scratch.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Moorhen was feeding a chick at Peter Pan. The clear water gives a view of a Moorhen's swimming action, which is almost the same as walking. Its very large feet make up for the absence of webbing, and it can swim quite fast.

One of the pair of Moorhens in the Dell was affectionately eating its mate's parasites.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water was fishing at Peter Pan. It has grown a black crest and its stripes are beginning to fade, a sign that it is old enough for independent living, though it will have to work very hard at first to catch enough to keep itself going.

The chicks on the Serpentine are still being fed. Their parent was fishing under the small electric boat.

The Black Swan was on the shore at the Lido restaurant.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull was on the Long Water again, with his mate and offspring. The pigeons here are more naive and easier to catch that the ones at the Dell restaurant, who have seen many of their relatives become lunch.

The racing pigeon is still in the Rose Garden, and shows no sign of going home. It has a supply of food from spillages from the bird feeder, a fountain to drink and bathe in, and bushes for shelter, and is quite comfortable. Its owner said that the best thing do do was to leave it alone, and maybe it will find its way home later, perhaps when the weather gets cold. A homing pigeon that doesn't go home isn't much use anyway.

One of the young Robins was nearby, waiting for a turn at the feeder. It can't grip the smooth metal bar at all well, and has to flutter its wings to stay on  ...

... unlike a Coal Tit, with its strong little feet that can hook on to anything.

There was just one Long-Tailed Tit on a horse chestnut tree at the back of the Lido.

The autumnal appearance of the leaves is caused by an infestation of leaf miner moth.

One of the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial memorial can also sometimes be glimpsed in the horse chestnuts around the oak tree where their nest hole is.

A few days ago Dave and Tony the gardeners were returning to the park offices behind the Magazine at the end of work, and the saw three young Little Owls on the fence next to the gate. We knew that the Little Owls here had bred, and I've heard the owlets calling, but the thick leaves on the horse chestnuts made them impossible to see.

There are still plenty of dragonflies, including several Common Darters around the Dell and the Rose Garden.

An Emperor dragonfly was hunting over the Long Water under the parapet of the Italian Garden.

A Red-Eyed damselfly shared its perch with some other insects on a floating twig in the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall. It's standing on a bit of thistledown, which conceals the fact that its wings are neatly folded along its abdomen -- something that dragonflies can't do.