Tuesday 20 February 2024

Not just Redwings

It's not just Redwings that are taking advantage of the fenced-off Parade Ground. Among other birds there are Pied Wagtails, Starlings, Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Herring Gulls, Black-Headed Gulls, Wood Pigeons and Egyptian Geese.

A Blackbird dashed around at the edge of the Rose Garden.

A Dunnock sang a couple of phrases beside the Henry Moore sculpture, just long enough for me to find and photograph it.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits are constantly at the northwest corner of the bridge, and must be making a nest in the bushes here.

A forsythia bush by Mount Gate is coming into bloom, making an attractive background for a Great Tit ...

... and a Blue Tit.

A Magpie perched on the metal crown that makes an ornamental chimney for the gas lamps beside the Serpentine.

The female Peregrine was alone on the tower again. Her mate is much more inclined to wander around than she is.

The young Grey Herons had quietened down and were out of sight at the bottom of the nest. One adult guarded them ...

... while the other looked down from a treetop.

One of the pair in the nest at the west end of the island is always in place now ...

... and there is a new pair in the small nest at the east end. This nest isn't large enough to use, but they could always take over one of the larger unused nests left over from previous years to save the trouble of building it up.

A young Herring Gull payed with a rubber glove.

It's only when you see the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Back standing next to some Egyptian Geese that you realise what a hulking great bird he is.

The Black Swan was on the Round Pond, temporarily away from his girlfriend and calling to her. When he saw me standing on the edge he came over, hoping for food. Well, grass is good for him and he gets more than enough rubbish from visitors.

The mahonia bushes in the Rose Garden are almost through with flowering, but there was enough left to attract a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee. Other flowers are beginning to come out so they won't face a shortage.

Monday 19 February 2024


Long-Tailed Tits are going around in pairs now rather than their winter family flocks. One at the northwest corner of the bridge inspected a sprouting leaf.

The Coal Tits at Mount Gate are also a pair.

The Robin by the Henry Moore sculpture sang a few phrases. He has a mate somewhere in the bushes, and the two are just beginning to notice each other again after their winter solitude.

The Robin in the leaf yard followed me for a few minutes, coming to take pine nuts. He was accompanied by some Great Tits which he chased away with even more ferocity than the Robin in the Flower Walk.

I only ever see one Wren in the leaf yard, but I'm sure there are others deeper in the bushes. Male Wrens maintain harems of females, each with a nest.

The Redwings were still on the Parade Ground, but as usual disappointingly far away.

Earlier than I'd expected, the young Grey Herons in the nest on the island have got restless and started climbing around in the tree. They can't be more than a month old but their growth rate is staggering: they are nearly adult size and have a full set of flight feathers, though they won't be flying yet. One of their parents was lower down in the front of the nest.

The pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Long Water were on posts at the Vista. They often visit the raft where I thought they might nest, but have shown no sign of wanting to yet.

Pigeon Eater had struck, fed and gone, and a young gull was finishing the scanty leftovers.

This must have been Pigeon Eater's son, since his mother was standing a short way up the shore and would have chased him away otherwise. She would have taken her share first. (We're only guessing that the young one is a male because it's pretty big.)

The female Great Crested Grebe from the island was searching for fish hiding in debris washed up against one of the boathouses.

The young Moorhen in the Italian Garden, standing in its favourite place on one of the planters, is looking badly frayed in its teenage brown feathers. I looked up the moulting time of Moorhens and this seems to be in the summer, so it will have to wait several months for its darker adult set.

The killer Mute Swan has taken over the nesting island on the Long Water that was built for the resident swans that he murdered. His proprietorial air was upstaged by a Cormorant standing in front of him.

The last surviving Egyptian gosling on the Round Pond has made it through another day. Its parents took it to graze at the edge.

But it's sad news from the Egyptians at the Henry Moore. The female is down from her nest hole and she doesn't have any goslings with her.

Joan Chatterley found a group of at least ten Mandarins in Battersea Park, and here is her picture of some of them.

We haven't had any here this year. Maybe the Mandarins prefer Battersea because there are fewer big gulls, though you would have thought that quite a few of these must fly in from the river.

A squirrel sat on the post in the Dell where it sharpens its teeth by gnawing the aluminium sign, which is now badly eroded. It was eating peanuts which someone had given it.

Sunday 18 February 2024

A glimpse of two Grey Heron chicks

There are at least two chicks in the Grey Herons' nest on the island. Again, this is a pretty terrible video, but you can just see them preening. I don't think we're going to get a better view than this until they start getting adventurous and climb around on the branches.

The Egyptian Geese on the Round Pond preened on the gravel strip in the wind, guarding their last surviving gosling. A young Herring Gull drifted past with a hungry look in its eye.

There have been no further developments with the other Egyptians. The male at the Henry Moore statue wandered vaguely around Buck Hill, occasionally eating a bit of grass. Do birds get bored? I think this one is. Without his mate he has no enjoyable displaying and shouting on a treetop.

The male at the Italian Garden, preening on the submerged wall of the old water filter, was annoyed by a Cormorant fishing next to him.

The Great Crested Grebes from the Serpentine island were fishing near the lake outflow. The male has a distinctively dark face.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Gull's mate, as immaculate as him, was loafing around by the Dell restaurant.

The female Peregrine was on the tower by herself.

Usually the Redwings stay in the shadows under their tree, ready to flee into the branches at the slightest sign of danger, but today one of them came out into the sunlight.

A Jay by the Italian Garden swooped down to grab a peanut from my hand and ate it on a branch.

A Magpie at the Triangle was expecting one.

One of the very shy Blackbirds in the Rose Garden was safe on a high branch but still nervous. Attempts to charm them with raisins have had no effect.

A pair of Great Tits here are now regular customers for pine nuts and follow me around.

At Mount Gate a Blue Tit ...

... a Coal Tit ...

... and a Long-Tailed Tit looked down from the trees.

There was plenty of time to film this Buff-Tailed Bumblebee on a paperbush in the Dell as it spent at least ten minutes on one flower, feeding from one floret after another.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Bright Goldcrest

A Goldcrest in full breeding plumage with a brilliant orange-yellow crest looked out of a variegated holly tree at the northwest corner the bridge.

At the southwest corner there was a view from the parapet of Long-Tailed Tits bustling around in a tree.

Unfazed by tractors passing near them and the noise of a demonstration and a police helicopter overhead, Redwings were still hunting worms under the trees on the Parade Ground. (I've turned the sound right down on this video, as it was appalling.)

The Peregrines were on the tower. This is just the female, as her mate had his back turned and you could only see his tail.

A pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Long Water saw another Lesser Black-Back circling high overhead. They called a warning, then one of them took off and patrolled the air over their territory. This pair have been seen on the raft here, and it seems quite likely that they'll nest on it, which would explain why they've become defensive.

The pigeon-eating gull was also feeling territorial, as his mate was with him. He trotted around his territory making sure there were no other big gulls on it. He ignores the smaller Black-Headed Gulls, which he doesn't see as rivals.

This is not a good video. You can hardly see the Grey Herons' nest through the plum blossom. But if you look below and slightly to the left of centre, where there's a gap, you can just see movement. This is the first sight we've had of a chick in the nest, although for some days it has been clear from the parents' behaviour that there was at least one.

The other heron of the pair was preening in the next tree.

The nest at the west end of the island had just one heron in it, but we now know there's a pair here and can stop worrying about the plight of the widowed bird.

There are quite a lot of herons now: six on the Serpentine including the unattached heron and the teenager, and four on the Long Water. Three of these were on the big fallen poplar at the Vista ...

... and one on the dead willow at the Italian Garden.

It really is amazing how many perch there still are at the north end of the Long Water, where Cormorants have been hauling them out by the dozen for months. Ahmet Amerikali photographed a Cormorant ...

... and a Great Crested Grebe with their catch.

The Egyptian Geese on the Round Pond are still managing to keep their last gosling alive.

A pair displayed noisily in a tree on the Parade Ground.

Three more rested under the weeping willows on the south side of the Serpentine, which are already beginning to come into leaf.

The mild spell which caused this has ended and it was quite chilly again, but this didn't deter the Buff-Tailed Bumblebees browsing on the Chinese Barberry at the bridge.