Saturday, 28 May 2022

More cygnets

The Mute Swans nesting on the gravel bank in the Long Water were moving around, and clearly something was happening. A closer look showed that at least two cygnets had hatched.

Later their mother took them to the back of the gravel, and you could see that there were five.

Their father chased off a pair of Canada Geese.

Now there is going to be trouble with the dominant pair, who were at Peter Pan with their remaining four cygnets touting for food.

However, the gravel bank offers some protection, as any attacking swan has to cross it to engage the swans on the other side. And the two males seem evenly matched, as we saw from their faceoff yesterday.

Ahmet Amerikali found the neglectful Mandarin mother with her ducklings for a change. I'm sure she let them wander off again after this picture was taken.

There may be a new Grey Heron chick at the west end of the Serpentine island. I heard a faint clacking sound like a newly hatched chick begging. If there is one it won't be visible, as any nest is completely hidden by leaves.

This is one of the teenage herons from the earlier nest, standing in a basket at the edge of the island.

An adult heron was in the water lilies in the Italian Garden, ready to grab a fish unwary enough to come out from under a leaf.

This video shows how little the Grey Wagtail in the Dell has to do to ctach the swarming midges.

The Reed Warbler showed briefly in the reeds under the Italian Garden.

The number of Greenfinches in the park is rising, especially around the Long Water. One male perched in a dead tree on the east side ...

... and here are two more singing.

The Blackcap family near the Henry Moore sculpture could be seen in the bushes. This is a young one.

Two Wrens were lurking in the shade: one behind the Albert Memorial ...

... and the other in the Dell.

The Tawny Owl was inside his tree in the morning but came out in the afternoon.

A patch of white clover in the grass near the Serpentine Gallery attracted several Buff-Tailed Bumblebees.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Blackcap chicks waiting to be fed

Three Blackcaps chicks shifted impatiently on a twig waiting for a parent to arrive with some food. This is the family a few yards north of the Henry Moore sculpture.

A Wren stared out from a tree behind the Albert Memorial ...

... and a male Chaffinch perched a few yards away.

A Robin in the shrubbery near the bridge was looking dishevelled from feeding its young ...

... and a Dunnock lurked in a patch of nettles.

A large family of Long-Tailed Tits rushed around in a variegated holly tree near the Italian Garden.

The Tawny Owl was in his usual oak all day.

Another reliable  bird: this Grey Wagtail spends most of its time on the small waterfall in the Dell, where there is an all-you-can-eat buffet of midges.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were fishing under the Italian Garden. One caught a perch.

I hadn't seen the young grebe since it wandered on to the Serpentine, but Neil saw it yesterday back on the Long Water. A relief that it had the good sense to return to its parents.

The Coots nesting for the second time on the post at Peter Pan have brought out six chicks. Let's hope they fare better than the last brood, which were soon eaten by gulls.

The extended family of Canada Geese on the Serpentine, five goslings with two sets of parents, usually behave in a dignified manner. But sometimes they have a moment of rushing around crazily and diving.

The Mute Swans nesting in an exposed place at the Lido have done very well to hatch six cygnets, and so far haven't lost any on the open lake. Thanks to Duncan Campbell for this video of them cruising by.

But for some reason the swans on the much more sheltered Long Water are down to four. Their mother led them on to the nesting island.

Their father and the male from the nest on the gravel bank circled each other menacingly. I think there will be trouble when this nest hatches out.

The three Mandarin ducklings were seen again today, but again no trace of their mother. Two drakes came over to the Vista.

The two Mallard ducklings in the Italian Garden are also without a mother, but seem perfectly happy in each other's company.

A patch of Heuchera in the Rose Garden attracted several kinds of bee, including this Honeybee.

A Rose Chafer beetle walked slowly over an oxeye daisy beside the Long Water.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Better news about the Mute Swans and Mandarins

The Tawny Owl was in his usual place again ...

... a good omen, for I found to my relief that I was wrong about some of the losses on the lake. The Mute Swans at the Lido still have six cygnets -- the others must have been lurking in the nest as their parents came out with just three yesterday. However, the pair on the Long Water really do have only five now.

Yesterday I thought the last three Mandarin ducklings had been lost, as their mother was at the edge of the lake without them. But there they were today racing to catch midges under a tree. Their careless mother was nowhere to be seen.

While on the subject of ducks, here is an interesting picture that Caroline Reay sent me of a group of Eiders on the island of Mull. This species has never been seen in the park, not surprisingly.

The two Canada Goose families have now completely merged into one family of five goslings with four parents to guard them. Canada Geese have this useful habit, but Greylag families remain separate.

Egyptian goslings crept into the shelter of their mother on a windy day.

The Coots' nest at the bridge has seven chicks in it. Their parents were busy feeding them.

The three Coot chicks in the Italian Garden can now get in and out of the planter where their parents have built a new nest for them, thanks to a hole cut in the netting by the Wildlife Officer Drew Love-Jones. One was helping the parents to add twigs to the nest -- evidently the very strong nest building instinct of Coots is present at a very early age.

A Grey Heron at the Vista was completely unmoved by irresponsible dog owners throwing balls into the lake. At one point there were ten dogs going into the lake, eight of them in the charge of dog walkers who will lose their licences if the police see them breaking the park regulations.

A Herring Gull at the Dell restaurant had unusual dark eyes. It was playing with a stick. There is a slight trace of lingering juvenile plumage, so it seems to be a three-year-old bird not quite fully adult and slow to change its eye colour.

There were the remains of a Feral Pigeon on the shore. It looks as if the adult Herring Gull who has taken over the role of pigeon killer here has been successful again. But he's not nearly as good at it as the famous Lesser Black-Back.

The House Martins have turned up at last, only a few of them flying around the French and Kuwaiti embassies and not yet going into their nest holes in the plasterwork.

I was very sorry to see that the Kuwaitis have put wire mesh over the holes at the front of their building. The French have already blocked up all their nest holes. A few holes are left on the sides of the Kuwaiti building, enough for the birds to use. But this kind of behaviour is not at all helpful. It can't be stopped because both buildings are diplomatic premises and the owners can do what they like.

Mark Williams got a picture of the Reed Warbler near the Italian Garden. It was singing as I passed but remained hidden in the reeds.

There are so many midges over the stream in the Dell that a Grey Wagtail can simply stand on a rock and grab them as they pass.

Young Starlings in the Rose Garden begged loudly from a lime tree while their parents visited a mahonia bush to find berries for them. Most of the berries have already been picked.

A family of Blackcaps beside the Long Water were also making quite a racket. I got three rather distant pictures of the father feeding a chick.

Another good picture from Mark of a Blue Tit taking food from his hand.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee visited a foxtail lily in the Rose Garden.

Duncan Campbell found this grey bee which he thinks is an Ashy Mining Bee, Andrena cineraria.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Young Wren and Robin

A young Wren preened in a tree on the east side of the the Long Water.

A pair of Magpies perched on a felled tree trunk and the female displayed, fluttering her wings. A Carrion Crow chased them off and took the perch for itself.

Two Robins in different places on the path were gathering caterpillars for their chicks.

A young Robin, still in speckled juvenile plumage, perched in a tree in the Dell.

A Greenfinch sang in a tree near Peter Pan.

A group of Carrion Crows were having a fight at the Vista.

It seemed to be the usual comic brawl, but a few minutes later I saw a crow in the water being attacked by the local Egyptian Goose with goslings, and it drowned and died despite my efforts to fish it out with a branch. I don't know whether this was connected with the fight or not -- perhaps it had tried to snatch a gosling and come off worse.

One of the Grey Wagtails in the Dell had a faceoff with a Moorhen on the small waterfall.

A few Swifts were flying over the Serpentine.

But I haven't seen a single House Martin. Have the wretched Egyptians netted them all?

The Tawny Owl was in his oak tree in the morning, though he went in when it started drizzling.

His cheering presence was much needed on a day of bad news. The Mute Swans on the Long Water have lost two of their cygnets and are down to five ...

... and the ones at the Lido have also lost two and now have only three.

The Mandarin at the Vista had just three ducklings left in the morning ...

... but when I went back later there were none to be seen, and she was sitting alone on the edge. It's hard to know whether a duck looks depressed, stoical, or just indifferent.

The Coots nesting on the post at Peter Pan quickly lost their first brood to gulls. Ever hopeful, they are raising a second brood.

The gulls are in a militant mood. A young Lesser Black-Back was hunting Feral Pigeons at the Triangle car park ...

... and the Herring Gull which we have seen before was on the prowl at the Dell restaurant. Neither caught anything while I was there.

Bees are particularly fond of the little mauve flowers of the woolly silver-leafed plant known commonly as Lamb's Ears. A patch in the Rose Garden had at least a dozen Buff-Tailed Bumblebees on it.