Sunday, 24 March 2019

A Blackbird singing in the Rose Garden had to contend with the shrieking Rose-Ringed Parakeets that are now everywhere in the park.

A Robin sang on the hedge at the back of the Lido swimming area.

A Starling visited a nest hole on one of the plane trees on the edge of the Serpentine near the small boat houses.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker that I photographed yesterday was in exactly the same place, drumming loudly. Evidently it is his favourite drumming place. Perhaps these are chosen for their resonance.

A few yards away, one of the Little Owls in the lime tree gave me a suspicious look over the rim of the hole.

There was also a sight of a Little Owl in the oak near the Albert Memorial.

Joan Chatterley visited St James's Park and got a fine picture of the adult female Tawny Owl, but couldn't find the owlet.

There is no reason to panic, as parents and young often perch in widely separated trees.

One of the young Grey Herons on the Serpentine island had climbed out of the nest. A parent arrived to feed them, and the young bird was stuck out on a branch and trying to get back across the gap. By the time it made it back to the nest, feeding time was over and it missed its meal.

Although the other three nests are constantly attended, it's impossible to know what's going on in them. This is the nest on the south side of the island, which is only visible from across the lake.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes congratulated each other after one of them had surfaced under a harmless Tufted Duck that was minding its own business, giving it a terrible fright.

The grebes trying to nest on the wire basket at the west end of the island have succeeded in poking a couple more twigs through the mesh, but there is still nothing to hold a nest in place.

The Coots at the east end of the Serpentine have got their huge pile of branches and twigs above water level, but much work needs to be done to organise it into a usable nest.

Three Cormorants fished cooperatively on the Long Water.

Yesterday the dominant Mute Swan here was guarding his nesting island. Today he had relaxed his watch and a Canada Goose was making a nest on it. But he will chase her off. He has already rolled one of her eggs into the water on the left.

The Gadwall drake is still hanging around the dead willow tree in the water near the Italian Garden. It's not clear what the attraction is. Occasionally he is joined by a female.

A bee attended to some flowers near the Queen's Temple. I think the plant is a Red Dead-Nettle, but I am far from sure about the bee and my best guess is that it is a Brown Carder.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

The leaves are coming out on most of the trees. This horse chestnut near Queen's Gate also has buds of its big white 'candle' blossoms.

The new leaves made a setting for a Jay ...

... and a Coal Tit, both near the bridge.

Wood Pigeons are very fond of leaf and flower buds. But they are less destructive of trees than Rose-Ringed Parakeets, which can descend in a flock and completely wreck one in a few minutes.

There were two sightings of Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the east side of the Long Water, or maybe of the same one twice, as both pictures show a male.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture came out briefly, but she was not in a good mood and went back into her hole before I could get a better picture.

A Robin stared out from a bush in the Rose Garden.

The young Grey Herons in the nest on the island have started climbing around on the branches in a dangerous-looking way. You never know when they are capable of flying until one comes down from the nest and manages to return, but probably they haven't quite reached that stage yet.

A Great Crested Grebe rested elegantly on the Long Water near the willow tree where it is reserving a nest site.

Not all the grebes on the lake understand that a reed bed is a good place to nest, as materials are easy to find and the result is stable. This was filmed from across the Long Water with the zoom on the Coolpix P900 cranked up to the full 83x, equivalent to a 2000mm lens.

A Mute Swan enjoyed a vigorous wash next to one of the Serpentine boat houses.

This Bar-Headed--Greylag hybrid goose from St James's Park has been spoilt rotten with unhealthy white bread, but it will consent to eat a few sunflower seeds.

Some Red-Crested Pochards have arrived on the lake. A pair passed a Gadwall going the other way.

Both species visit the lake apparently at random, though when there's a garden party at Buckingham Palace the Gadwalls in the palace gardens usually move to the Serpentine for a few days.

There was a Little Japanese Umbrella mushroom near the Serpentine Gallery. This frail species only appears above ground for a day.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he got distant pictures of a Black Redstart ...

... and an early returning Wheatear ...

... and a good shot of a Fieldfare foraging in the grass.

The Fieldfares here in the park left some time ago.

Friday, 22 March 2019

A Jackdaw was peacefully eating a peanut on a branch ...

... when it was attacked by a Magpie. With great presence of mind, the Jackdaw picked up its peanut before fleeing.

Two Robins in the Rose Garden perched on the same bush without trying to kill each other, so they must be mates, together in the brief truce that comes in the breeding season.

There was also a Dunnock.

The male Nuthatch in the leaf yard was coming down to the hands of people it trusted, in this case Dave.

A Blackbird unerringly found sultanas I threw down for it. They are invisible in the grass, and evidently the bird is finding them by smell.

The female Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was back in her usual place at the front of the nest hole.

The female Peregrine was on the barracks tower.

The Grey Herons' nest on the island is tilting at a greater angle each day, not helped by the young birds' preference for standing together on one side.

I don't think it will collapse. There was a nest collapse on the island a couple of years ago, but this was caused by the nest being built up to such a huge size that it broke the branch it was resting on.

Coots are fascinated by bright coloured objects. Every year several pairs build nests against the orange plastic buoys in the line of white buoys that marks off the Lido swimming area. This pair were taking time off building to preen and eat each other's parasites.

The huge Coot nest at the east end of the Serpentine has now risen above water level, but the Coots were taking a rest from building and I didn't photograph it. Instead, here is a Coot at the bridge vainly pursuing its long unsuccessful attempt to attach twigs to the submerged chain on the post. Not all Coots are good at nest making.

The Great Crested Grebes' nest in the reed bed on the Long Water now has some plastic bottles next to it, blow in by the wind. A Moorhen probed the detritus for insects.

A Little Grebe could be seen distantly from the Italian Garden.

The dominant male Mute Swan on the Long Water has resumed possession of the little island, driving away the pair of Canada Geese which had earlier laid an egg here. The egg has disappeared.

The solitary Gadwall drake that has been hanging around the dead willow for several weeks has now been joined by a female.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers appeared at opposite ends of Buck Hill. One was female and the other male, but they were probably too far apart to be mates.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture came out on a branch of her lime tree. She wasn't doing much, but it was good to see her.

A Carrion Crow teased a bit of bark out into strands to make a nest lining.

Another dunked a peanut in the marble fountain to make it more palatable.

All the male Blackbirds in the park have started singing now. This one in the Rose Garden was accompanied by a Wren hidden in the bushes, its song astonishingly loud for such a small bird.

A Long-Tailed Tit preened on a twig in the Dell.

The Coal Tit at the bridge took five pine nuts, which it must have cached in cracks in tree bark ...

... then followed me along the path to demand more.

The young Grey Herons were quiet for once. Their father stood on a branch behind the nest to avoid being bothered by them.

The Great Crested Grebes at the west end of the island were having another go at making a nest against the wire basket. It is almost certain to collapse soon.

The male grebe under the willow near the bridge was guarding his intended nesting place. Territorial calls from the other side of the bridge showed that another pair had designs on this good safe spot.

A Mute Swan made a nest at the Lido. They obsessively tear down all the vegetation they can reach, even when it destroys the cover around their nest.

The Bar-Headed--Greylag hybrid goose snatched a peanut that I had accidentally dropped and tried to swallow it, though it was unsuccessful and had to spit it out eventually. During its efforts it passed the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate.

The three other hybrids seen yesterday seem to have gone back to St James's Park, but the long-staying one was on the Round Pond.

Gadwalls crossed the Long Water.

This is only my second sighting of an uncommon species in the park, the Rubber Duck, Anas elastica.