Saturday 15 June 2024

Expert beggars

There's no shortage of Great Tit fledglings noisily chasing their parents all over the park.

Both the adults ...

... and the young are very good at striking theatrical poses when demanding food.

Mark Williams photographed a fledgling staying on his hand while it ate its titbit.

I had an adult near Temple Gate settle on my hand to eat five pine nuts one after the other, which took several minutes, before picking up a sixth and flying off. I must use my left hand to feed them here in the hope of getting a video.

One of the pair of Song Thrushes at the Henry Moore sculpture was hopping about the lawn.

A Blackbird collected worms near the Dell. I haven't seen any young yet but they should be coming out soon.

It rained several times, but Blackbirds are quite happy with that as it brings up the worms.

The Little Owl at the Round Pond was out on his usual lime tree minutes after the rain stopped.

Young Starlings lined up at the Lido restaurant.

A Pied Wagtail hunted from a buoy at the Lido.

Swifts tore around the Long Water.

The single Great Crested Grebe chick chased his father towards the Italian Garden.

The six Mute cygnets fed with their mother by the reed bed.

The swans on the Serpentine are down to one cygnet each. It's not clear how the losses occurred, as the killer swan has kept very much to the Long Water now that he has his own young.

The Coots on the chain by the bridge are undaunted by the loss of their first eggs and are sitting again. The nest has been built up substantially. It sags constantly off the chain and needs frequent maintenance.

One of the many kinds of Salvia in the Rose Garden attracted Buff-Tailed Bumblebees.

The Red Arrows flew over Kensington Gardens after the Trooping of the Colour.

The ceremony must have been in full swing when there was a particularly heavy downpour. The Royal Family are renowned for attracting bad weather -- unlike the German Kaiser in the late 19th century, who got sunshine on his outdoor occasions so constantly that it was known as Kaiserwetter, Emperor's Weather.

Friday 14 June 2024

A bold Wood Mouse

Most of the songbirds have fallen silent for the summer, but the Song Thrush at Peter Pan is still performing well.

There was also a Blackbird singing on the other side of the lake but it wasn't visible.

A young Great Tit called from the railings before flying to my hand. They are all coming now.

One settled down on my hand to eat a pine nut and wouldn't budge when the other birds tried to land -- it even scolded them. It was on my right hand, so I couldn't take a picture. But Mark Williams had exactly the same experience in St James's Park and was using his left hand, so he did get a picture of the stubborn bird, which was wondering if his thumb was edible.

One of the young Long-Tailed Tits from the family near the Italian Garden.

A female Chaffinch followed me from the leaf yard most of the way to the Round Pond. I don't think this was the mate of the familiar male, since when last seen she had healthy feet and this one's are quite badly infected with the papilloma virus.

The condition affects mainly Chaffinches and it seems that they all get it in the end. But other birds are sometimes infected, such as this Jay in the Flower Walk, and I've also seen a Blackbird and a Moorhen with the same condition.

A pair of Magpies chattered at each other in a tree by the Buck Hill shelter.

It rained in the morning but stopped soon after noon, and the male Little Owl at the Round Pond came out of the dead tree where he had been sheltering and perched on a branch.

The young Grey Heron perched in the willow tree next to the bridge.

Below it, a pair of Great Crested Grebes were hanging around. I think it's the pair that nested in the tree last year and they would like to go there again, but at the moment a Coot has the site. It just seems to be squatting and not nesting, so they should be able to evict it.

Repairs have started on the damage to the bridge, beginning with a survey. This end of the bridge hasn't been level for a century or more, as one side has subsided a few inches into the London clay. It's going to be a big job, as some of the large stones in the cornice have been displaced and it will be exceptionally hard work sliding them back -- it's not clear how they are going to do it. Structural repairs will be done this year but the balustrade won't be remade till 2025.

The fallen masonry has been cleared from underneath, but the traffic cone is still there. The Coot nesting here seems very fond of it: anything bright coloured fascinates them.

However, neither of the two Coot nests on this side of the bridge has eggs in it now. Probably they have been raided by Herring Gulls.

Someone had been throwing strawberries on the ground near the Serpentine island. This happens quite often, and apparently the person thinks that they are a special treat for the birds. Actually most birds aren't keen on strawberries. A young Herring Gull chewed one experimentally and spat it out ...

... but a Canada Goose seemed happy enough with another.

The whole length of the south shore of the Serpentine is lined with moulting Canada and Greylag Geese, plus a few Egyptians and Mute Swans.

Most of the Egyptians cluster on the other side near the Dell restaurant. Coots gather farther up the shore near the Triangle.

A tiny Wood Mouse appeared unexpectedly on the edge of the Diana fountain enclosure, and didn't seem alarmed by the people passing by on the path. Some stopped to look at it when they saw I was filming. Wood Mice are fairly common in the park but you hardly ever see them.

A Holly Blue butterfly perched on a leaf in the Rose Garden. There have been a lot of them this year but not many other butterflies. Dragonflies and damselflies are also scarce.

Thursday 13 June 2024

Young birds becoming independent

No surprises today, but at least the day was graced by the Little Owl at the Round Pond keeping watch from the horse chestnut tree.

Young Starlings bustled around in the grass at the Diana fountain, searching for insects but also calling plaintively to their parents to feed them. The parents didn't: the young ones can find enough themselves by now.

A Great Tit fledgling at the northwest corner of the bridge came out to collect a pine nut. All the young ones are coming to my hand now, but that doesn't stop them from chasing their parents to beg for more.

One of the pair of Blue Tits at Mount Gate was also waiting.

Long-Tailed Tits were bouncing around in the trees east of the Lido. 

Two Song Thrushes were still singing sporadically beside the Long Water, one near the bridge and this one near Peter Pan.

The usual Jay in the Flower Walk was expecting a peanut.

So was this Magpie, perched on the ornamental crown on a gas lamp post at the Triangle. The lamps have a pilot flame, so this is a warm place on a cold day.

A Carrion Crow landed on the Mute Swans' nesting island in the Long Water, just to annoy them.

Pigeon Eater strode ashore by the Dell restaurant and a Feral Pigeon hastily got out of his reach.

The single Great Crested Grebe chick on the Long Water has started diving after its parents, the first stage in learning to fish.

A look around the south shore of the Serpentine, where hundreds of Greylag and Canada Geese have arrived to moult their flight feathers.

One of the Greylags was chewing a plane leaf, probably too tough to eat but it's a pastime like chewing gum.

Two Red-Crested Pochard drakes are still in full breeding plumage and looking very smart with their ginger bouffant hairdos.

The Tufted Ducks are still in breeding plumage ...

.. but the Mandarins, Gadwalls and Mallards are going into eclipse. A pair of Mallards were surprised by an unexpected egg.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee worker collecting pollen in the Rose Garden shooed away another that wanted to take her place.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Sparrows at Covent Garden

The London Bird Club Wiki reported House Sparrows nesting in Covent Garden, and I went to see them. There are perhaps half a dozen. The nests are in the building in Long Acre that has Boots on the ground floor, in ventilators set between the windows, and the best place to watch them is from the corner of Covent Garden Tube station. This may be the only completely independent colony of sparrows in central London, as the colonies at Regent's Park Zoo and the Churchill Gardens Estate in Pimlico are sustained by feeding.

At the Round Pond the Little Owl was keeping up his watch in the nest tree, fluffed up to keep warm on a cold grey day. He'd be much more comfortable inside, but he has a job to do.

A young Long-Tailed Tit stared down from a tree near the Italian Garden.

Ahmet Amerikali got a picture of a Reed Warbler in the reeds under the parapet.

A Carrion Crow perched on a swan-necked urn. You can see the join where the urn was mended when the garden was restored in 2011.

Most of the songbirds have gone quiet now, but a Blackcap was singing occasionally.

Three Greenfinches were calling to each other on the west side of the Long Water.

The Grey Wagtail was using a wire basket at the island as a hunting station. I didn't see the fledgling.

The young Grey Heron was still at the Triangle. It was struggling to rip the last shreds off the carcass of a Feral Pigeon, but its bill is really the wrong shape for this. The pigeon was apparently caught by one of Pigeon Eater's followers, since Pigeon Eater himself was hunting at the other end of the lake.

He had just dived on a pigeon which had struggled free, leaving him just a few feathers in his beak.

The Great Crested Grebe chick on the Long Water kept an eye on its father as he swam below, hoping to intercept him when he came up with a fish.

The Coot chicks in the Italian Garden have started wandering from pool to pool, and you can no longer tell which brood they belong to. Five stood on the kerb with a parent.

The killer Mute Swan's mate was on the gravel strip in the Long Water, preening with her six cygnets.

The Greylag goslings, now teenagers, were near the boathouses. They still have their Canada helper.

The four youngest Egyptian goslings huddled to keep warm.

Two Red-Crested Pochard drakes crossed the Serpentine. They are still in breeding plumage ...

... but the Gadwall drakes are going into eclipse. They are inconspicuous in their grey breeding plumage and don't really need to change it while moulting their wings, but it's what ducks do so they go along with it.

The wildflower patch in the Rose Garden, which had some unsuitable cultivated flowers in the spring, has now gone properly native with corncockles, cornflowers and oxeye daisies.