Saturday, 23 February 2019

The two Grey Heron chicks were in a very active mood. Towards the end of this clip you can hear their clacking begging call.

The heron nest which was built some time ago on the south side of the island now has a sitting bird in it, so with luck we can expect more chicks soon. It's hard to photograph from the other side of the lake, and through twigs.

There is a new nest on this side of the island, not yet completed. It's the fifth nest this year.

The other two nests on the north side of the island, facing the shore, are still occupied but I can see no sign that eggs have been laid yet.

Yesterday David Element saw a Lesser Black-Backed Gull chasing a Rose-Ringed Parakeet, apparently hunting it quite seriously.

The parakeet was able to escape the gull by dodging inside the gull's rather large turning circle. But gulls are clever, and they will probably find a technique that works. By the way, another picture not shown here has a close-up of the gull's eye, and it is clear that this is not the notorious pigeon killer, who has distinctive eyes with a ring of dark dots.

There was a Peregrine on the barracks, another predator of parakeets.

To continue the subject of birds that eat parakeets, several people had a serious hunt for Tawny Owls on the evening of the 20th. One female could be heard, probably in the woodland on the east side of the Long Water. On the morning of the 14th, Des McKenzie had heard a male in roughly the same place. It's good to know that there are a pair here, but unfortunately this area is closed to the public so we shan't be able to photograph them.

The Little Owls in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture are quite close to this place, but the two seem to be able to exist together. They hunt at different times, Little Owls at dawn and dusk and Tawnies mostly at night.

A Mistle Thrush is nesting in a plane tree in the Dell.

A pair of Jackdaws were at a nest hole in a big oak outside the southwest corner of the leaf yard. This picture was taken on the shaded side of the tree, and I didn't see the upper Jackdaw, which is why the picture is badly framed. Will try to get a better one.

A pair of Goldcrests chased each other through a yew tree near the bridge, and the male sang.

A Treecreeper was also singing on an oak near Queen's Gate. I probably wouldn't have noticed this excellently camouflaged little bird if it had remained silent.

A Dunnock sang from the top of a blossoming tree near the bridge.

Last year this pair of Coots successfully built a nest in three feet of water next to the Dell restaurant. Now they are repeating the feat. The restaurant is being refurbished, so they have moved a few yards along the shore.

The two pairs of Moorhens in the Italian Garden fountains are active and certainly preparing to nest. One of them paused on the edge of a fountain, getting saturated but Moorhens don't mind this.

One of the Great Crested Grebes from the island hurried along the lake.

A Canada Goose on the Serpentine enjoyed a thorough and splashy wash.

This pair of Mallards is often seen resting on the fallen trunk of the willow next to the bridge.

Friday, 22 February 2019

It was a beautiful warm day and the park was full of people, which makes birds stay in the background. But there was a Pied Wagtail trotting boldly along the edge of the Serpentine looking for insect larvae.

I also saw, for the second time, a Grey Wagtail flying out of the park near the Dell, heading for a gap in the buildings which would have taken it down Sloane Street. If it kept on that course it would reach the Thames at Chelsea Bridge, just a few yards upstream from the colony of Grey Wagtails near the old coal wharf that once served the fine Beaux-Arts sewage pumping station. This strengthens my belief that the Hyde Park Grey Wagtails, which come and go unpredictably, are an outlier of that colony.

The Redwings were chattering in the trees on the Parade Ground.

The male Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was in another very awkward place on the lime tree, where he had to be photographed from a great distance through the twigs of an alder.

I'm trying to get a picture of the Great Tits near the bridge prettily framed in pussy willow catkins, but they refuse to perch in the right places on the tree.

Tom went back to Crossness for another difficult bit of photography, getting a picture of the Penduline Tit in the reed bed, where it never comes to the front and pictures have to be snatched through gaps in the stems. He got an almost perfect shot.

David Element was in the park and pulled off the notable feat of capturing an early Brimstone butterfly standing still on a leaf. They are very active creatures and hardly ever stop, and I have never been able to get a picture of one.

He also got a picture of a Black-Headed Gull chasing another that was holding a bit of reed -- not an edible item, but gulls also covet each other's toys.

This Common Gull with unusually bright yellow legs always stands in exactly the same place on the edge of the Serpentine. It's only when a gull has some conspicuous feature that you start to notice its habits.

The fire brigade were practising using their equipment on the edge of the Serpentine. The water was coming down uncomfortably near the Grey Herons' nest with chick in it. I had a word with them and they quickly moved it out of the way.

But there was more danger. The heron in the nest left later, temporarily abandoning the chicks which were in danger from the nearby Carrion Crows. It was lured out because the herons were being fed on the shore. Feeding herons near an occupied nest endangers eggs and chicks -- please don't do it. The once thriving heronry in Regent's Park has been reduced to a pitiful state by crow predation.

Luckily this time the parent heron returned before any harm came to the chicks.

A Cormorant at Peter Pan stared severely at the camera with its strange blue-green eyes. There are now only a few Cormorants on the lake, a sign that they have eaten almost all the fish.

A Great Crested Grebe dozed next to the willow by the bridge, where it is guarding a future nest site.

Two pairs of Moorhens were exploring the water plants in the Italian Garden fountains, and it looks as if they are planning to nest here soon. They can have three broods a year if they start early.

On a warm sunny afternoon, a Gadwall drake dozed while his mate preened.

An Egyptian Goose was also preening its large shining wings.

A male Mute Swan was courting a teenager far too young to breed. He should have known better.

Marie Gill saw two Magpies chasing a bat yesterday towards sunset near the north end of the bridge. The bat effortlessly eluded them. It's early in the year for bats to be out, but everything's early this year.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

A Blue Tit found a perfect-sized nest hole in a tree beside the Long Water.

A Long-Tailed Tit perched in the corkscrew hazel bush in the Dell.

A Green Woodpecker appeared on a tree near the Albert Memorial.

A Dunnock sang from a bush near the Queen's Temple.

A Wren sang inside a bush in the Flower Walk.

Another one looked warily out from under a plant in the Dell.

One of the Nuthatches in the leaf yard came out on a branch.

A small flock of Redwings hopped around in pursuit of worms on the Parade Ground.

A particularly large and resistant worm took some effort to haul up.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial came out of her hole. It is a most awkward place to photograph, with twigs in the way wherever you stand, and an alder tree blocking the best angle.

One of the Peregrines was on the barracks tower.

The Grey Heron chicks are mostly keeping their heads down in the nest, but one popped up for a moment.

It was only a slightly warm day, but a Cormorant needed to pant and flutter its throat to cool down.

There was another Cormorant on the next post, and this one performed its odd courtship display. No doubt it is most attractive to other Cormorants.

A Black-Headed Gull got bored with playing with a stick and picked up a feather instead.

I really don't know what's going on here.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

A Wood Pigeon ate blossom beside the Serpentine. They are fond of this, as the flowers contain sweet nectar.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet in the Rose Garden had the same idea.

In the next tree, an evergreen oak, a Goldcrest was flitting around overhead. I was very lucky to get a picture of the elusive little bird.

A Redwing hunted for worms in a patch of rough grass on the Parade Ground. Most of this area has now been returfed, and there isn't much to eat in the immaculate newly grown grass.

Most of the Redwings were farther south, in trees on the other side of Rotten Row.

A Starling chattered in a tree beside the Serpentine as the twigs swayed in the brisk wind.

Here is another of those gulls which are darker than Herring Gulls and lighter than Lesser Black-Backs. This one also has feet intermediate in colour between the yellow of a Lesser Black-Back and the greyish pink of a Herring Gull. It may well be a hybrid of the two.

One of the Lesser Black-Backs at the Lido chased off a young Herring Gull that had intruded on its territory.

Three Cormorants were hoovering up fish in the apparently inexhaustible area at the north end of the Long Water. Since this is a fish spawning ground, they must be having a severe effect on the future population.

A Moorhen beside the Serpentine tried to preen its feathers, but the wind made this difficult.

There is almost always at least one Great Crested Grebe loitering under the collapsed willow by the bridge, reserving a place to make a nest later.

Two Bar-Headed--Greylag Goose hybrids from St James's Park found each other on the edge of the Serpentine.

This Pochard drake has been hanging around next to the bridge for several weeks. It doesn't associate with the other Pochards, of which there are still a few left on the Long Water.

Just one of those Wordsworth moments.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Two male Egyptian Geese on the Round Pond wrestled while one of their mates shouted encouragement. This fight went on for ten minutes, and only ended because they moved on shore and a man officiously broke it up. The only result of that is that they will have to have another fight.

There were also two Great Crested Grebes. They never stay long here. There are plenty of fish but absolutely no cover, which makes them feel uncomfortable.

There have been no Mandarins on the Long Water for months, but eventually a pair has turned up.

They prefer the Regent's Canal, whose overgrown banks provide shelter and tree holes to nest in.

Most of the Pochards have now migrated away and I saw only half a dozen, including this female on the Long Water.

A male Moorhen chased a female. This is as close as these birds get to a courtship ritual.

I was trying to photograph the pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls at the Lido when one of them took off. The shape of the splash is peculiar, as if it had left the water backwards. But the wind was quite light.

The gaze of a Black-Headed Gull in full breeding plumage is uncanny.

A Grey Heron in the nest on the island looked down at one of the chicks.

There was one Peregrine on the barracks tower, dismantling a pigeon. You can see feathers drifting down.

One of the Jays that comes to take a peanut from my hand always calls before taking off.

A Carrion Crow cawed loudly to summon its mate.

A small flock of Redwings flew over near the Physical Energy statue, and one of them landed in a tree.

A Robin picked up spilt sunflower seeds under the feeder in the Rose Garden.

Just an ordinary Feral Pigeon enjoying a wash in the Serpentine.

Tom went to Crossness nature reserve to see a Penduline Tit, a rare visitor from the European mainland. He got a good picture of it in a swaying bed of reedmace.