Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Tufted Duck family with five ducklings, not seen for three days, made a miraculous reappearance at the east end of the Lido. Here are the two families together.

The five ducklings, which are about two weeks old, have grown quickly.

The six, about a week old, are still tiny.

The Egyptian gosling on the Serpentine which got lost and was adopted into another family has wandered off again, and was by itself near the bridge. This vague behaviour bodes ill for its survival.

But the prize for vagueness must surely go to the first Egyptians to arrive in the park, who in fifteen years have not managed to raise a single gosling. The pair were near the Italian Garden eating duckweed.

The dominant male Mute Swan on the Long Water attacked a couple of Greylag Geese who, through no fault of their own, were between him and his cygnets.

Another male swan on the Serpentine went for a dog that its idiotic owner had let into the water in front of him. The dog fled.

One of the Great Crested Grebes nesting on the island got off the nest to repair it, revealing at least two eggs.

The pair near the bridge with three chicks were invisible under the overhanging bushes, but the pair with two chicks could be seen opposite Peter Pan.

The Coots' nest in the reeds under the Italian fountain has four rapidly growing chicks in it, here visited by a parent.

A Grey Heron's life calls for patience. It can wait for hours under the fountain for  a glimpse of a fish through the water weed.

Or it can hang around the terrace of the Dell restaurant looking for tasty titbits, and then just get a bit of dry pizza crust.

Wood Pigeons are gorging on unripe elderberries.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard looked down from his usual tree.

This Emperor dragonfly is already a bit tattered. They only live a few months as adults, but it's an exciting life of hunting and mating.

This Black-Tailed Skimmer has not converted to vegetarianism. The fruit is just something convenient to hold on to during a brief rest.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Mallard family with two blond ducklings was under the trees at the island.

But by the time I had got round to the other side of the lake they had moved over to a place near the bridge, a dangerous journey over 300 yards of open water with Herring Gulls circling overhead. It's not clear why their mother is so restless.

The white Mallard who may be the father of the brood was up the other end of the lake with his male companion.

The Mallard drakes are going into eclipse, but in the case of the white Mallard you can't tell, because his eclipse plumage is no different. However, when he gets a new set of feathers they are cream coloured, fading to white in a couple of months.

The Tufted Duck family was east of the Lido as usual, with the six ducklings obediently following their mother.

This is one of the ducklings, beaded with water from its last dive.

But there was no sign of the other family anywhere.

One of the three Greylag goslings being brought up by Canada Geese flapped its almost completely developed wings. A bit of preening will be needed to rub the wrappings off the new flight feathers and make them ready for a first attempt to take off.

This pale Greylag is often seen at the Lido restaurant.

Oddly, the other blond greylag, which is paler than this one and quite conspicuous, is seldom seen. Nor is the Bar-Headed Goose. They have to be here because they are moulting and still flightless, but they have found some secluded place where they are unobserved.

The Great Crested Grebes at the bridge were tending their three chicks. One chick got a fish, another got a feather to help its digestion.

The family on the Long Water could be seen on the east side.

But nothing seems to be happening in the nest in the fallen poplar at the Vista, although it's been there since the beginning of June.

A pair of Coots have started building a nest in a small clump of reeds in one of the Italian Garden fountains.

It seems that the new strong fences around the clumps of plants have kept them from nesting there, although the Moorhens, which can climb much better, find the fences no obstacle at all. I saw one going into one of the enclosures, and I think they are nesting again.

The occupants of the Coot nest under the willow near the bridge had to leave when a Grey Heron decided that this was a good place to fish.

A family of Long-Tailed Tits whizzed through a hawthorn tree at the foot of Buck Hill.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual chestnut tree again. The female hasn't appeared for some time.

A Brown Hawker dragonfly hunted under the parapet of the Italian Garden. It only stayed a few minutes, not long enough for me to get a better picture. Photographing dragonflies in flight is a chancy business and you have to take a lot of pictures, hoping that one of them will be good.

Friday, 13 July 2018

It was another hot day. A Moorhen on a post at Peter Pan was panting to keep cool.

So was a Mandarin on a branch, although she was in the shade.

A new Mallard family at the bridge has two blond ducklings. Pale Mallards are not uncommon in both sexes and are quite varied in appearance. Virginia suggested that the father of this one might be the white Mallard drake. Certainly he hasn't been seen with his mate recently, so she might have been nesting.

The Tufted Duck family with six ducklings was in the usual place and in good order.

But something has happened to the family with five. Two of the ducklings were alone, not far away from the other family.

Two days ago, when the ducklings were straggling widely on the lake, Virginia saw their mother heading off to the island followed by only three of them. It looks as if she has forgotten about these two. The mother of the other family won't adopt them, and I've seen her chasing them away.

More bad news: two of the Mute Swan cygnets on the Long Water are developing angel wing. So is a Canada gosling on the Serpentine. I've not seen any species other than Egyptian Geese with this deformity in the park before, but it's known to affect many species, not just waterfowl. There are conflicting theories about the cause: some say it's hereditary, others that it's caused by bad diet, especially the white bread that visitors persist in feeding the birds. When it affects only one wing, it's always the left one, which suggests heredity.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge are thriving on the fish that their devoted parents constantly bring them.

Parents remember which chick has been fed last, so the stronger, pushy chicks don't get all the fish. In this sequence showing the same family, a chick comes up to take a fish but the parent holds the fish under water before turning round to feed another chick.

The two chicks on the Long Water were having a quieter time, but they too get fed regularly.

A second Coot nest has gone up on the posts at Peter Pan. There were only Black-Headed Gulls on the posts, which are too small to be dangerous to Coots, but any time a Herring Gull or a Lesser Black-Back feels like eating an egg or a chick it has only to turn up. No Coot nest on these posts has ever succeeded.

A Carrion Crow fed a worm to its large fledgling. The young go on demanding food for a long time, when perfectly capable of finding their own.

A Wood Pigeon settled in a bramble patch and started looking for ripe blackberries.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual tree.

A White-Tailed Bumblebee was frantically rushing around in a rose. It repeated this with several roses, never slowing down.

Bees are not very keen on the roses in the Rose Garden, which are mostly tight double ones that are hard to get into and probably don't have much pollen or nectar anyway. But a fairly simple rose of a gaudy fuchsia colour attracted a Honeybee.

Small wildflowers, especially purple ones, are more popular. This White-Tailed Bumblebee has got covered with pollen, which is useful to the plant as it will get brushed off on the pistil of another flower and fertilise it.

A Large White butterfly was drinking nectar from the same plant.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

There is a family of Reed Warblers in the small patch of reeds near the bridge. This is slightly surprising, as earlier this year a gang of Mute Swans broke down the fence and destroyed a lot of the reeds, but these have grown back well.

There are also sounds of young Reed Warblers from the reed bed at the east end of the Serpentine, and I think at least one pair in the bed near the Diana fountain have young.

A band of Long-Tailed Tits went through the horse chestnut trees behind the Lido. The horse chestnut trees in the park have been badly affected by leaf miner moth, and you can see the damage to the leaves caused by the caterpillars. But this is an opportunity for insect-eating birds.

On a hot afternoon, a group of Feral Pigeons cooled off by splashing around in the Serpentine.

A Wood Pigeon was eating unripe elderberries on the island. Both Wood Pigeons and Rose-Ringed Parakeets seem to like fruit when it's very unripe, sour and hard.

But Carrion Crows prefer their food soggy. Even this pappy bit of sliced bread gets dipped in the lake.

Another pair of crows were having a conversation on the fence around the field maple tree near the leaf yard.

I couldn't find the Little Owl here today.

Near the Diana fountain landing stage, a young Grey Heron was flapping frantically, trying to dislodge a bit of plastic netting wrapped round its bill. I was just ringing Hugh Smith, the new Wildlife Officer, when the heron managed to get the netting off and all was well.

Not long ago, a heron got a piece of netting tightly wrapped round its bill and nearly starved to death before the people at Bluebird Boats managed to catch it in a landing net and remove the netting. I've shown this video on my blog before, but there's no harm in seeing it again.

The two young herons who are clearly siblings and go around together were on the gravel bank in the Long Water.

The Tufted Duck with five ducklings was letting them wander all over the place. Although they have grown noticeably, they are still not safe from being seized by Herring Gulls, and only their ability to dive fast has kept five alive so far.

But the one with six ducklings kept a motherly eye on them.

The Great Crested Grebes with three chicks had moved up the Serpentine and come into conflict with the neighbouring pair. Although they can win these confrontations by the moral force of having chicks, they decided to back off for the sake of a quiet life, and went back under the bridge. There are lots of fish here too.

The pair with two chicks were in their usual place under the trees on the east side of the Long Water.

All was peaceful on the nest at the east end of the island.

I can't see the nest at the west end. It was started in a place where you could see it through the wire baskets, but this is a place where Cormorants like to stand, so the grebes moved along to a safer spot. I know there's a nest there because I've seen grebes carrying twigs to it by diving under the baskets.

A teenage Moorhen preened on a chain at Peter Pan.

A young couple were having a picnic in the small electric boat, chauffeured around the lake by Mateusz. They had an impressive hamper and a bottle of rosé wine in an ice bucket and I thought, How romantic.

Unfortunately it turned out to be a photo shoot advertising something.