Saturday, 8 May 2021

A large party of House Martins and Swallows swooped over the Serpentine. The insects they eat come down to a low level in bad weather, and the birds follow them.

Here are two of the Swallows.

There were also Swifts, but they preferred to hunt at a high altitude and I didn't get a usable picture.

The young Grey Wagtails are now hunting busily. One found a small larva on the shore.

Their mother has shown them that the non-slip rubber mat on the jetty is a rich source of insects.

The young Long-Tailed Tits still depend on their parents. Here is one hunting near the Henry Moore sculpture ..

... and another in the Rose Garden.

A young Robin wandered around on the path, completely fearless as several people watched it. I gave it some pine nuts.

Jackdaws are gradually spreading from Kensington Gardens into Hyde Park. This one certainly knows me, and came down beside the Serpentine to ask for a peanut.

One of the three young Grey Herons was on the ground on the island, puzzled by a nesting Coot.

Another was back in the nest. I didn't see the third, but all three were in good shape yesterday.

Egyptian goslings enjoyed the fresh turf laid beside the Serpentine.

The brood of eight walked round one of the small boathouses.

A new Greylag Goose family has come out. The goslings enjoyed a bit of wrestling.

Later I went to St James's Park, where there are now several broods of Greylags, including one of seven whose parents were looking very self-satisfied.

Some others found a varied diet in a patch of weeds.

I had come here because Jorgen had reported that the father of the Mute cygnets, thought to have vanished, has turned up. He was in the water in front of the nest, where you can also see the Black Swan and the cygnets. He is accepting the Black Swan as a female companion to his mate.

It was hard to see the cygnets through the leaves, and this is the best I could manage. There are six of them.

Friday, 7 May 2021

The Long-Tailed Tits nesting near the Italian Garden hung around in the hawthorn tree, not daring to go to their nest because that would have revealed its location to a Carrion Crow on the ground. Actually I think they were safe enough, as the nest is deep in a bramble patch.

A Blackcap sang from a yew tree near the Queen's Temple.

A Dunnock looked for insects under a bench in the Rose Garden. It's a good hunting ground because people sit on the bench eating food and dropping crumbs, which attract insects.

The young Grey Wagtails were wandering around in the scrubby bushes east of the Lido restaurant, looking more or less efficiently for insects.

I think the nest was under a wooden shack a few feet away. There used to be some pretty flowering bushes around the restaurant terrace, but these were vandalised by the restaurant management to make space for a bar and an ice cream van, and only a few square feet remain.

The Coots nesting on the wire basket at the bridge have eight eggs. Virginia got a dramatic picture looking down from the bridge as the birds were changing places.

A new Coot nest has appeared in one of the planters in the Italian Garden.

The Mute Swan nesting east of the Lido was turning over her six eggs.

A pair of Egyptian Geese on the Serpentine have four new goslings.

Another fine picture from Virginia, of one of the blond Egyptian goslings flapping its developing wings.

We don't have any Greylag goslings in Hyde Park, since the geese have almost abandoned trying to nest because of the numerous foxes. So I filmed these in St James's Park, where there are two broods of six and one.

I had gone to St James's Park because Jorgen had reported an unusual event. A Mute Swan has some new cygnets, but she has lost her mate and is now partnered by a Black Swan, which Jorgen thinks is the one we had in Hyde Park several years ago. The cygnets are ordinary Mute ones, not hybrids. I got a picture of the pair side by side, but they were hard to see in the bushes and I couldn't see the cygnets at all.

Leaving St James's Park I went along Birdcage Walk, so called because James I set up a royal aviary there. Only the British royal family and the Hereditary Grand Falconer, the Duke of St Albans, were permitted to drive along the road until 1828. It is bordered by the back gardens of the grand 17th century houses in Queen Anne's Gate. There were a Blackbird ...

... and a Robin in the bushes. Not a birdcage in sight, happily.

Back in Kensington Gardens, all five terrapins were visible on the fallen horse chestnut tree.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee browsed on Birdseye flowers.

Duncan Campbell told me that the incident of the Bee-Grabber Fly was not the only one he had witnessed. In July 2020 he took this remarkable picture of a different species, a Ferruginous Bee-Grabber Fly, attacking what he thinks was a Forest Cuckoo Bee -- it doesn't have the second stripe of a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee.

In both cases the bee is doomed. During the brief attack the fly lays an egg in the victim's abdomen, which eats the bee's innards and eventually bursts out like the Alien in that terrifying film.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

A Starling brought food to its young in a nest behind a missing plank in the roof of one of the small boathouses. The harsh squawks you can hear at times come from its mate, which was scolding some Carrion Crows and a Magpie.

Another landed on the shelter on Buck Hill with a worm for the nestlings in the eaves.

The Long-Tailed Tits were busy in both the nests on he hill. This is the one near the Italian Garden.

Neither of these nests can be seen, but Ahmet Amerikali got a view of one in Southwark Park.

One of the three young Grey Wagtails at the Lido restaurant preened while waiting for its mother to bring food.

I tried to get a picture of one of the Whitethroats in the brambles near the Queen's Temple, but they stayed behind twigs. However, the hawthorn here was visited by a Blackcap ...

... several Greenfinches ...

... and a Song Thrush which refused to come out into the open.

All five young Grey Herons were visible in their nests today. The three older ones can leave and return to their nest as they like, but stay because they only get fed in the nest.

Lesser Black-Backed and Herring Gulls made a commotion next to the foxes' earth in the Diana fountain enclosure. Foxes have been able to live here because the gates have been closed since the beginning of the Great Panic.

The Great Crested Grebes' nest on the Long Water should be hatching out soon.

A male Coot chased a female, who was not interested in his amorous advances.

The nesting Mute Swan had uninvited guests on her island.

The original Black Swan is completely uninterested in the new one, and prefers the company of her Mute mate. If the newcomer gets close they chase it away.

The two Canada goslings are slightly larger.

Buff-Tailed Bumblebees visited a Mexican Orange and a Ceanothus bush in the Rose Garden.

Buttercups have come out in the grass near the leaf yard.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Two different woodpeckers were calling on Buck Hill, and at one point were in the same tree. The Great Spotted Woodpecker hung upside down from a oak twig, something I've never seen before. It must have been looking for insects in the small green flowers.

The Green Woodpecker was hard to photograph, as these shy birds always are, but it finally showed itself in a lime tree.

One of the Long-Tailed Tits at the nest near the Italian Garden posed prettily on a twig ...

... and I got a poor shot of one at the nest near the Henry Moore sculpture bringing in a caterpillar and some insects.

Tom was there and got a better flight shot, which I will put up when he sends it.

Update: here it is.

There was a Chiffchaff in the next tree.

Tom got a good shot of a Willow Warbler.

The three young Grey Wagtails at the Lido were left alone by their mother for a while, and started to look for insects. Not sure how many they actually caught. When their mother came back she was feeding them as usual.

A Magpie washed in the Serpentine ...

... and dried itself on a post.

Virginia sent a fine picture of a Magpie feeding a fledgling which looks quite big enough to find its own food.

One of the Moorhens in the Italian Garden walked over a patch of algae. When they are very small they don't sink in as long as they keep moving.

The on-and-off Mute Swan nest at the small boathouse seems to be on again.

It won't be long now before some of the other nests begin to hatch out.

The two Canada goslings are still in good order.

One of the Mallard ducklings near the Lido darted around looking for midges. Adult ducks will eat insects if they get a chance, but young ones really need them because they are growing fast and need extra protein.

Egyptian goslings and their mother found that they could get under the fence surrounding a patch of new turf.

By the time I got this late shot of a Goldfinch at the Lido the weather had turned nasty, and sleet was falling as I reached home.

Duncan Campbell saw a very odd event, a fly attacking a bee. The bee managed to shake it off. He thinks it was some species of mining bee and can't identify the fly. Neither of us have any idea of what was going on. Here are his pictures.

Update: Jim comments, 'A conopid or thick-headed fly, maybe a Myopa species, maybe Plain-winged Spring Beegrabber.' Follow the link for more information.