Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Three Mute Swans thundering over the head of a young Great Crested Grebe didn't worry it.

One of its parents caught a perch, and ate it. The young ones are only being fed occasionally, and are expected to catch most of their own food.

Shovellers seem to be able to revolve for ever. This pair at the Vista continued non-stop for at least three minutes after I stopped filming.

A sight of an old friend -- the Polish Black-Headed Gull T4UN which has been returning faithfully for many years.

A Carrion Crow bathed on the edge of the Dell waterfall.

Three of the Magpie family on Buck Hill perched together.

The fourth was by itself among some berries, though it didn't seem interested in eating them.

A young Wood Pigeon had a hard time pulling some tough holly berries off the twig.

It was much easier for a Rose-Ringed Parakeet to deal with soft yew berries.

Starlings hunted for insects and worms among the dead leaves in the Diana fountain enclosure.

A Pied Wagtail was also hunting on the other side of the Serpentine.

A Wren hopped around in a yew hedge in the Flower Walk.

A Long-Tailed Tit stared at the camera.

Some Common Wasps are still around. This one was browsing in a fatsia clump near the bridge.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

A day of intermittent rain. A Grey Heron stood stoically on a dead willow near the Italian Garden.

One of the Peregrines huddled miserably on the barracks tower.

Feral Pigeons sheltered under the cornice of the bridge.

A Carrion Crow perched on a gas lamp ...

... and a pair of Jackdaws among the red leaves of a sweetgum tree.

Long-Tailed Tits continued their endless hunt for insects.

The affectionate pair of Black-Headed Gulls who constantly display to each other were in their usual place on the south shore of the Serpentine.

A Herring Gull stared down haughtily from an urn in the Italian Garden.

Another Black-Headed Gull showed no respect for the statue of Edward Jenner, the inventor of smallpox vaccination whose discovery led to the total eradication of the disease.

However, the statue, by William Calder Marshall, has seen worse things. It was originally in Trafalgar Square, where its installation in 1858 was furiously opposed by both anti-vaxers and the military, who complained that he was the only civilian in the square and, worse, was sitting down when all the generals and admirals were standing up. It was removed to the park in 1862. The British Medical Journal commented that the other statues remained in Trafalgar Square 'because they killed their fellow creatures whereas he only saved them'.

Honourable mention should be made of one of these military men in the square, Charles James Napier who, as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in India, saved far more lives than he took by prohibiting the practice of suttee, burning widows alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands. When Hindu priests protested, he is said to have replied, 'Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.'

A Great Crested Grebe on the Long Water was already in its plain winter plumage.

While I was taking this picture from the bridge, another pair of grebes shot under it and flew up the Long Water.

A Cormorant on the other side of the bridge tried to dry its wings in the drizzle.

In wet weather, when there are few people and their dogs in the park, the Canada and Greylag Geese can move on to the lush grass on the north side of the Serpentine. There was a brief glimpse of one of the Bar-Headed x Greylag hybrids which often fly in from St James's Park.

A Shoveller drake had shovelled up enough tiny water creatures to satisfy him, and attended to his fine feathers.

Monday, 26 October 2020

An uncertain day produced a rainbow against a stormcloud.

The female Peregrine was back on the barracks, passing the time by preening.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull is also very careful about his appearance. He knows he is the finest gull in the park.

While the Diana fountain is closed during the Great Panic, the deserted enclosure makes an excellent place for Herring Gulls to look for worms. Some of them were doing the worm dance, pattering their feet to imitate the sound or rain, which brings worms to the surface.

A Carrion Crow had a furious wash in the Serpentine.

Another jumped into a pool of water on the base of the standing stone in the Dell.

Before the Dell was railed off as a bird sanctuary in 1922 this stone was a drinking fountain, and you can still see the pipe that filled the pool.

The number of Starlings in the park is increasing, although the population is falling nationally. Some of them were ranging restlessly around the Round Pond looking for insects and scraps. If you have what looks like a bag of food, the whole flock will dash across the pond and surround you.

A Great Tit flitted about in the holly tree near the bridge, then ate a pine nut I gave it.

I didn't see the Coal Tit that is usually here, but Ahmet Amerikali did and got a good picture of it ...

... and also of a Goldcrest hanging upside down from a holly twig.

A Cormorant sprawled inelegantly on a post at the island. The black-bordered feathers of its wing coverts give a scaly effect which adds to its prehistoric look.

The Black Swan was still following the male Mute Swan around the Lido swimming area. This attracted the attention of the dominant male swan, who came over and chased it. The Black Swan had to wriggle over a gap in the line of buoys to get away.

This is the pair of Egyptians that I filmed preening each other on Friday. They are unusually affectionate.

A Tufted Duck at Peter Pan stood up to preen.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

The day started with rain. Two Cormorants have been using the tern raft in the Long Water as a fishing platform. You would think the the edge of the plastic sheet surrounding it made perching very uncomfortable, but they don't seem to mind.

A Moorhen couldn't resist climbing on the scaffolding in the Italian Garden.

The day soon brightened up. The Red Crested Pochard in the fountain preened.

A solitary Gadwall drake fed at the Lido ...

... where the Black Swan was still following the male Mute Swan around. ...

... and a Dunnock foraged along the edge.

A Starling washed frantically.

The Grey Heron on the rock in the Dell scratched its chin.

A young Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew past an autumn tree. You can tell it's a Lesser Black-Back and not a Herring Gull because the flight feathers are uniformly dark.

A Great Tit came out to feed in the holly tree near the bridge ...

... and there was a Blue Tit ...

... with a flock of Long-Tailed Tits on the other side of the lake.

The ivy at the back of the Lido is still attracting a few late Common Wasps.

There were dense patches of tiny mushrooms, barely half an inch across, in the grass near the Queen's Temple. I think they belong to the Inkcap family, which is so large that it's almost impossible to tell their species.

Update: But naturally Mario knows what they are -- Fairy Inkcap (Coprinellus disseminatus).

As they say in the French navy, À l'eau, c'est l'heure!

You never know what you're going to find in the park on a Sunday afternoon. The music is by Heinrich Isaac (1450-1519).

Saturday, 24 October 2020

A brisk wind shook the autumn leaves in Kensington Gardens.

Some of the trees are already bare. Starlings chattered on the branches beside the Serpentine.

The Great Tits have started to feel the cold, and a lot of them came out to be fed in the shrubbery at the southwest corner of the bridge.

A Jackdaw waited on a stone near the bridge, knowing I was going to give it a peanut.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull is getting a hard time from the Carrion Crows at the Dell resturant, which are becoming bolder and cheekier. He confronted one of them, which cheerfully waved a dead leaf at him.

Later he caught a Feral Pigeon. A crow even managed to grab his lunch from him, and then a gang arrived to feed on it.

But he can still successfully frighten them off, and the crows had to make do with crusts from the restaurant.

A Black-Headed Gull and a Magpie enjoyed a dogfight over the Long Water. It's a young gull, as you can see from the black tips to its tail feathers.

Another played with a leaf.

The female Peregrine was on the barracks tower.

Later she was joined by her mate, who as usual perched an unsocial distance away, screened from her by the concrete projection between them.

How differently a pair of pigeons behave.

A Grey Heron looked for fish on the small waterfall in the Dell.

Ian Young sent this picture of one of the young Great Crested Grebes, which had flown up to the Round Pond and was looking for small creatures along the edge. There was an adult grebe here last Monday, which must have shown the young one the way to the pond.

The strange trio of a Red-Crested Pochard drake, his Mallard mate, and a Mallard drake hanger-on is now almost a permanent feature of the Italian Garden. Ducks often form trios as there is usually a surplus of males, but only one drake is the mate and the other is subordinate.

There are clumps of red berries in the scrubby patch at the east end of the Serpentine. Conehead 54 tells me that the plant is the Stinking Iris, Iris foetidissima. It sounds even smellier in Latin.

Some very large Shaggy Parasol mushrooms are growing at the northwest corner of the bridge.

This mushroom was in the grass a few yards to the north. Field Blewits grow here, but this isn't one, as it has a fairly slim smooth pale brown stem. The cap is about 4 inches across. I don't know what it is.

Update: But of course Mario does. It's a Stubble Rosegill, as last seen on the wood chips under the plane trees near the Physical Energy statue.