Monday, 15 July 2019

The Blackbirds stopped singing several weeks ago, but this one near the Italian Garden tried a few quiet phrases, barely audible over the noise of the fountains.

There were two Blackbirds in a hawthorn on the other side of the lake. The berries must still be too hard to eat, but I think the brambles out of focus in the foreground may have have some blackberries ripe enough to interest them.

A Jay in the next tree, which had been coming to take peanuts from Paul's hand, now trusts me too.

The pair of Blue Tits at the bridge were also expecting to be fed.

A Magpie in the Rose Garden sunbathed, then preened. I think the idea is that the sunlight brings parasites up on to the surface of its feathers, where they can then be picked off.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was taking no notice of the world below.

Another fine shot by Tom of one of the Little owlets in Richmond Park.

And a different kind of owl, but not here. This video was sent by John and Lizann's neighbours in Sardinia, who rescued two Scops owlets that had fallen out of their nest. They intend to release them into the wild, but I suspect that the owls will be too accustomed to life in a house to want to leave.

There is currently one Egyptian family with six goslings on the Serpentine ...

... and two with five.

The family on the north side has to cross over 60 feet of pavement, roadway and horse ride to get to the nearest grass. If some irresponsible dog owner comes past with a dog off the lead, which happens every few minutes, they have to run for their lives to get back into the water, taking their chances with passing cars, bicycles, rollerbladers, skateboarders, and runners who are usually oblivious to everything.

The Mallard and her five ducklings rested and preened on a branch of the fallen willow tree next to the Italian Garden fountains.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Long Water were in their usual place by the fallen poplar. One of them scratched its ear with a large foot.

The single chick at the island was also visible.

A young Moorhen on the Long Water fed one of the chicks from the next brood. This behaviour is quite usual for Moorhens, which may breed three times a year.

A pair of Moorhens at the island are not nesting, but have made a sort of daybed out of willowherb leaves to rest on. Again, this is usual behaviour by Moorhens, which like to have day nests whether or not they have a proper nest and chicks.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

A young Robin, still not quite in adult plumage, came out on a yew twig in the leaf yard, decided to trust me, and took three pine nuts from my hand.

Robins don't sing quite all the year round. They take a break in July, after they have brought up their young. Now the couples have split up till the next breeding season and taken their separate territories, which both sexes sing to defend.

Both the Little Owls in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial were on view, though one remained obstinately turned away.

Young Black-Headed Gulls look misleadingly gentle with their soft colours and big dark eyes.

The Great Crested Grebe chick at the island is now old enough to spend most of its time in the water.

One of the two chicks from the nest on the fallen poplar constantly stays away from the parent guarding them. It is expecting the other parent to come along with a fish, and wants a head start to get to it first.

Grebe parents are wise to this trick, and if a chick has been fed more than the other one they will dodge around it.

A grebe on the Serpentine was carrying a bit of weed in a purposeful manner towards the reed bed at the east end of the lake.

This would be a good place for a nest if only they had the good sense to go behind the netting surrounding the reeds, which only reaches down to water level. But they have never grasped the idea, and build in an exposed position on the outside of the net.

A Moorhen hurried across the Vista with a piece of bread ...

... which it fed to a chick in the shelter of the bushes. There are two chicks here.

One of the new Coot chicks under the marble fountain on the edge of the Italian Garden gets fed occasionally, but duckweed is so easy to eat that it really doesn't need any help.

The Coots with a nest on the posts at Peter Pan, having lost three broods to the gulls in this impossible place, are now building up their nest yet again.

The Mallard with two ducklings came over to Peter Pan.

The other Mallard mother, not seen for a while, was there too. She has lost one and is down to five, but it's still a remarkable effort.

The Pochard was out in the middle of the lake near the Vista, still with two ducklings.

I've been neglecting the Egyptian Geese lately. There is a new family near the island with five goslings.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

A Wren beside the Long Water scolded some predator that I couldn't see, probably a Magpie or Jay.

A Blackcap lurked in a holly bush.

Two young Carrion Crows on Buck Hill relentlessly chased their parents begging for food.

One of the two Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Long Water had vanished, but eventually I found it by itself under the fallen poplar, well hidden by the disruptive camouflage of its stripes.

The chick on the Serpentine was safe on its parent's back.

The grebes retain possession of the disputed nest under the willow by the bridge. Their habit of nesting very late, when the Coots have finally given up, is helpful to them.

The Moorhen family at Bluebird Boats were out, with the teenagers helping to guard and feed the younger chicks. This is quite usual behaviour for Moorhens.

The Pochard with two ducklings passed across the Vista ...

... and so did the Mallard with two.

The two Mallard ducklings on the Serpentine are also all right.

But I haven't seen the Mallard which had six ducklings at Peter Pan for several days. I hope this is because she is keeping them well hidden under a bush. They are larger than the ducklings in the previous picture, so it's definitely two different broods.

Tom went back to Richmond Park and got some excellent pictures of two Little owlets.

Compared to adult Little Owls (this one is in Kensington Gardens) ...

... they are paler, and have no white spots on the head. There is no sign that any of the Kensington Gardens Little Owls -- at least, the three known pairs -- have bred. They are all at least seven years old, and may be past it.

Mark Williams was in St James's Park, and found a juvenile Green Woodpecker.

The wildflower patch in the Rose Garden fascinates visitors, far more than the gardeners' immaculate herbaceous borders.

Friday, 12 July 2019

The young Great Tits are now mostly independent, and finding insects for themselves.

The Reed Warblers are still singing intermittently on both sides of the Lido and on the Long Water.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was out on her oak tree in the morning, but retreated later when the wind got up.

Many of the geese are now airworthy again after moulting. Some Greylags flew along the Serpentine, just because they could.

The Pochard with two ducklings had moved from the Vista to Peter Pan, where they were all diving briskly in the shallow water.

The Great Crested Grebe chick at the island was sitting comfortably on its parent's back.

The family on the Long Water obstinately stay on the far side, so I can never get a good picture of them.

The pair who have taken over the Coot nest under the willow near the bridge were still there today, and seem to have complete possession of it. One of them was rearranging the nest.

The Coot chicks under the balcony of the Dell restaurant are now strapping teenagers, but still using their nest as the shore on either side is occupied by belligerent Mute Swans, not to mention the pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

(I've had to go back to using YouTube videos for a while, as my Vimeo account has been suspended after some kind of glitch. Sorry about the reduction in video quality.)

It seems that the Coots trying to nest on the wire baskets by the bridge have finally given up after their third unsuccessful attempt. One of them was still on the nest, but they had allowed it to fall to pieces.

A Moorhen chick under the parapet of the Italian Garden walked along a reed without sinking it.

A Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly rested on a leaf beside the Long Water. You can see its abdomen expanding and contracting as it breathes.

(It was putting this video on Vimeo that caused my account to be suspended. Do they think that 'Black-Tailed Skimmer' is a racial insult? Such is today's paranoia that I wouldn't be surprised.)

Two excellent pictures taken by Tom at Richmond yesterday, before I arrived: a Little owlet ...

... and a Common Tern on a post at Pen Ponds.

This is his video of the Green Woodpecker feeding the chick in Richmond Park.

TinĂºviel visited a heronry near Trujillo in Extremadura, where Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Spoonbills, and White Storks live together in an uneasy truce and in very cramped quarters. This remarkable video was taken by her guide.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

A quick walk round the park before setting off to Richmond Park. There are three new Mallard ducklings at Peter Pan.

The existing ducklings were on the fallen branch where they were yesterday.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water have only two chicks now, but they are growing well.

Another pair have occupied the much invaded nest under the willow near the bridge, which was orginally built by Coots but has been occupied by Moorhens, Mallards and Mute Swans.

A Grey Heron sunbathed on the awning of the small electric boat.

A Stock Dove stood in the fastest flow of the small waterfall in the Dell, nearly being swept away but clearly enjoying the sensation of water rushing over its feet.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was out on a branch.

I had hoped to see one of the Little Owls at Richmond, but they weren't in any of their usual places. Tom had got a picture of an owlet earlier, which I hope to put on the blog tomorrow. However, several Kestrels were hovering around in search of grasshoppers in the long grass, of which there was an amazing number.

Common Terns were also hovering over Pen Ponds.

The star turn of the visit was a Green Woodpecker feeding a chick in a very visible hole in a dead tree. This was interesting enough to be worth two video clips, one close up ...

... and the other a longer view from the side.

The parent always landed on the top or side of the tree and climbed cautiously around to the hole so that it could be hanging on securely when lunged at by the ravenous chick.

Two female Mandarins saw off a Wood Pigeon that had come down to drink on their bit of shore.

A herd of Red Deer sat in the shadows under the trees. Most of them were stags, so that there was a forest of antlers.

The herd leader's antlers are enormous.

The view from Richmond Hill up the Thames is remarkably rural considering that the London suburbs straggle on for miles  beyond.