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.


  1. I like the plucky spirit of the young Grebe!

    1. We're all rooting for it (whatever that means).

  2. Excellent in flight picture of the Dragonfly!

  3. I knew about the open beak cooling system, but had never seen the throat vibrating; fascinating to see, thanks for the videos.
    Great close-up portrait of the parakeet.

    1. Not sure how the throat vibration works, but clearly there is some kind of fanning going on.

  4. The Little Owl looks like an Old Hollywood star with her long eyelashes and her heavy eyelids. Did you manage to see what made her open her eyes? Was it some other bird, or a noise?

    It's astounding how easy and still the Great Crested Grebe sitting on eggs remained when you approached it.

    1. Little Owls do have a very human-looking gaze, I think mostly because of their shaggy eyebrows. I try not to read too much into their expressions, which are not our expressions, but you can get a rough idea pf their mood from their body language.

      The Great Crested Grebe is separated from the boat by a line of large floating wire baskets filled with water plants. She knows she is safe from us there, and humans are irrelevant to her as long as they don't pose an immediate threat. Even when the boat hit the baskets, she didn't stir.

  5. 'd meant – after your recent comment (which I can't now trace) about seeing a *male dragonfly dipping the tip of its abdomen in the water - to say that this is surely*female behaviour, ovipositing eggs. I am given additional impetus to do so after seeing, yesterday (Sunday) a female Emperor ovipositing onto the water-surface of the Round Pond, near the Coot nest on the small platform. She spotted a pile of damp weed on the edge of the platform and set to work; whereupon a sitting Coot made a mighty lunge and caught her. After a bit of a struggle - the dragonfly was over the length of its head - the Coot ate half the insect and then took the other half round the back of the platform to its mate, sitting on the nest and oblivious to the whole drama. I was impressed by this act of selfless dedication (not a trait I associate with Coots); but, as my partner said, perhaps dragonflies taste nasty but are good for you - the bird equivalent of spinach, or liver.