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.


  1. What did the Mute Swans thinking of people swimming in their territory?

    1. They were mostly clustered up the east end of the Serpentine, where there was a bit of a space not occupied by the circuit. I did hope that some of them would go out and bash the swimmers, but nothing seemed to happen.

      During the 2012 Olympics, when the triathlon has held on the lake, a family of swans with dominant parents was seized and deported to the upper Thames, where one of the cygnets died.

  2. Poor female Shoveller. She looks like the Eleanor Rigby of ducks.

    Very pleasing study of how little birds manage to crack and eat seeds. Great tits go at it like tiny demented jackhammers, from what I've seen!

    I really enjoy seeing the videos, and do not think they are too much, but rather very judiciously mixed with the pictures. I like to hear the sounds, in addition to seeing the moving image. It's like being there myself, if only vicariously.

    1. The sounds are unedited, so you get all the nattering and helicopters. Anything filmed from anywhere near the Italian Garden, such as the Gadwall clip, includes the loud and far-carrying sound of six fountains.

  3. The mushroom on Buck Hill is Parasola (formerly Coprinus) plicatilis, commonly referred to as the Pleated Inkcap, and sometimes as the Little Japanese Umbrella.

    1. Thanks very much for the correction. I've changed the text.