Sunday, 21 October 2018

Now that the weather is getting colder, there was a full house of small birds at the leaf yard, Great Tits ...

... Blue Tits ...

... a Coal Tit ...

... two Robins ...

... the pair of Nuthatches ...

... and two Goldcrests.

There was another Coal Tit in the Rose Garden, waiting on a twig while I refilled the feeder.

A Mistle Thrush was also waiting in a birch tree on Buck Hill, hoping for at least one more thrush to join it so that they could fly down to the rowan tree and eat the fruit. You never see just one Mistle Thrush in the rowan: they insist on going in a party, evidently feeling that there's safety in numbers.

Two Grey Herons preened in the trees near the bridge, at a discreet distance from each other to avoid a fight breaking out.

Another Heron had a face-off with a Cormorant at the island.

Yesterday we had picture of a Cormorant landing on a post at Peter Pan. Today here is one jumping up on to the post from the water, a considerable effort.

It landed successfully. Often, though, they fall off.

The number of Herring Gulls on the Serpentine is now greater than 100, thanks to the successful breeding colony in Paddington. Most of them are first- or second-year birds, a sign of how fast they are increasing.

Japanese knotweed is invading Kensington Gardens, a most unwelcome plant which spreads like fury via underground rhizomes that are very hard to kill off. Today a new patch was found in the leaf yard. The gardeners put blue ropes around the patch to prevent anyone from cutting it down by mistake, which would only encourge it to spread. Every now and then a professional eradication company is called in to deal with it, but the spread is irresistible.

Every Sunday for most of the year there is a race for radio-controlled model yachts on the Round Pond, a beautiful spectacle (which, incidentally, the birds are quite used to). But today, on the other side of the pond, they were outclassed by this stunning five-masted schooner manoeuvring nimbly in the brisk breeze. Full-size five-masted schooners don't exist, but on the Round Pond everything is possible.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

There are strangely few Mistle Thrushes. Some autumn migrants arrived and seem to have gone somewhere else. But today there were two on a rowan tree on Buck Hill.

A flock of about twenty Blue Tits flew into the nearby hawthorn. You think there aren't many Blue Tits in the park, and then a lot turn up at once.

Another hawthorn by the Serpentine had a flock of Long-Tailed Tits in it.

A sweetgum tree shone brilliant red at the Diana fountain ...

... where a gang of Carrion Crows were begging for food from the picnickers.

When a crow comes and looks at you, you just have to give it something.

A Jackdaw clung to the trunk of an oak tree in the leaf yard.

Two Jays flew down to drink at the pool in front of the Rima relief.

One of the Dunnocks near the bridge foraged under the bushes.

It was a warm afternoon. The Cormorants on the posts at Peter Pan were feeling the heat, and panting.

One came in to land on a post ...

... and just managed it without falling off.

A Black-Headed Gull knocked another one off a post, but then lost its own footing.

A Coot enjoyed a brisk wash until a Black-Headed Gull passed and normal hostilities were resumed.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes from the west end of the island was fishing by itself in the territory of the other family, who were all there. They were taking no notice of it for the time being.

A late Red Admiral butterfly perched on an ivy stem.

In this blog I've been ignoring Christo's enormous art installation in the middle of the Serpentine, which is now being dismantled. But I have been videoing it while it was being built, and Johanna van de Woestijne has made a short film about it with my clips and her time-lapse sequences.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Both the Peregrines were on the ledge near the top of the Household Cavalry barracks tower.

The female, on the left, looked around restlessly and flew away.

The male left half an hour later and circled high over the Serpentine.

While I was at the far end of the Serpentine, David Element was beside the Long Water, where he got some fine pictures of a Carrion Crow chasing a Sparrowhawk ...

... a Buzzard ...

... and some Great Crested Grebes having a territorial fight.

Carrion Crows were shouting at each other in the top of the swamp cypress near the Italian Garden.

Another appeared on the cornice of the bridge, eating a sardine which it had probably stolen from a Grey Heron being fed by the man who gives them sardines with chopsticks.

I had to lean over the parapet to get the picture and couldn't keep my shadow out of the frame, but the angle of the light shows that when the light shines directly into a crow's eye the picture has 'redeye' just as with a human.

A Jackdaw waited to be fed on a twig in the leaf yard.

A Goldcrest appeared for a moment in the laurel tree at the southwest corner of the leaf yard and I got just one hasty shot.

A tapping noise in a tree near Queen's Gate revealed a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A Feral Pigeon was delighted to find some chips on a plate at the Dell restaurant.

Rani, who usually looks after the feeders in the Rose Garden, is away for a few weeks, and I am covering for her. I refilled a feeder and within seconds a Blue Tit flew down to it, removed a seed and ate it daintily on a twig.

The same Common Gull as yesterday was preening on a buoy near the Lido. No more have arrived yet.

A Grey Heron waded almost out of its depth in the stream in the Dell.

A Coot washed in the Serpentine.

Every autumn, large white mushrooms about 4 inches across appear on the grass around the Henry Moore sculpture. I can't identify them.

Update: Mario tells me that it's a White Dapperling, Leucoagaricus leucothites.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

A holly tree on the edge of the Long Water is a favourite place for Starlings to congregate. There were about forty of them inside the tree, chattering loudly.

Long-Tailed Tits dashed through a tangled thicket near the bridge.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet perched in a red oak tree.

A Crow bathed in the marble fountain in the Italian Garden.

Another finished the leftovers of the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

There's still only one Common Gull on the Serpentine. More should arrive around the end of the month.

One of the young Grey Herons stalked over the roof of the Dell restaurant with a determined look in its eye. It can't eat Feral Pigeons, which are too large for it to swallow whole. Maybe it had seen a rat.

There are plenty of rats in the Rose Garden. One looked out confidently from a herbaceous border.

A Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine managed to get airborne after a desperate fifty-yard run.

The young grebes from the east end of the island are now able to catch their own fish. But when a parent appears, they still chase it. The parent dived, either to catch a fish or just to get out of the way of the pestering teenager.

This Canada Goose could often be seen lying miserably on the edge of the Serpentine. Happily it seems to be recovering. It still isn't walking properly, but at least it's preening its neglected feathers.

The white Mallard had a vigorous wash in the shadow of the island.

The shelter on Buck Hill is home to all kinds of martial arts, exercises and dances, but this one left me baffled. It seemed to be some kind of a lesson, because a woman was watching from behind one of the pillars.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The first bird of the morning was a Goldcrest in a tree in the Flower Walk near Queen's Gate.

The number of Chaffinches in the park, much reduced by a virus disease, has suddenly risen. Three were foraging on the ground near the bridge, with a further two in the bushes behind.

There are also two in the Rose Garden and one in the leaf yard.

A flower bed in the Rose Garden was being dug up to put in the winter border. A Magpie looked for worms in the freshly turned earth.

A Robin couldn't go in till the Mapgie left. It waited on the nearby rail.

A Blue Tit ...

... and a Dunnock looked on from the other side of the path.

Some Long-Tailed Tits passed through.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee was working its way through some pink roses.

The young Lesser Black-Backed Gull at the Dell restaurant was trying to hunt pigeons like its father. It didn't have any idea of how to do it, but it will learn. The father needed several years of practice before it could catch pigeons at all regularly.

A young Black-Headed Gull played with a feather. Thanks to Tom for this picture.

A Little Grebe appeared on the Long Water, the first I've seen there for several months.

You can tell when a Great Crested Grebe is about to dive. It clamps down its feathers to reduce its buoyancy, and its shoulders sink under the water.

One of the young grebes from the family near the bridge was fishing. It paused to yawn.

Bar-Headed Geese are smaller than Greylags and lighter on their feet, and walk briskly without waddling.

The railings at the southeast corner of the leaf yard are being extended to protect one of the 428-year-old sweet chestnut trees. The hordes of people feeding the Rose-Ringed Parakeets have trampled down the soil around it, making it hard for rainwater to reach its roots.

It was raining, so two activities had to take place at once in the shelter on Buck Hill. It must have been very hard to stay mindful in the circumstances.