Monday, 17 May 2021

The Mute Swans on the Long Water were out with their five cygnets when one of them was attacked by a Coot and knocked endways. The cygnet was all right, and the parents chased the Coot away.

The swans in the nest at the east end of the Lido have four cygnets, and the last two eggs haven't hatched. When I was there the female swan was keeping her young under her wings and I couldn't get a picture.

The Greylag Goose with two goslings was keeping them in shelter on her back.

Virginia caught the Mandarins on the Serpentine mating.

She saw five Coot chicks in the nest on the post at Peter Pan. I couldn't get a picture of all of them, and this is the best I could manage.

One of the two young Grey Herons in the second nest on the island was flapping around in the trees.

A young Pied Wagtail looked for insects among the goose droppings on the Diana memorial fountain. Its parents are still feeding it occasionally ...

... and one of them was on the shore with a beakful of insects.

The young Grey Wagtails at the Lido are now fully grown and catching insects quite efficiently.

Starlings searched for insects in the swans' nest at the west end of the Lido restaurant terrace. The swan was not pleased.

A Starling sang on the roof of the shelter on Buck Hill, where several of them are nesting.

One was on the ground collecting insects for its nestlings.

Clive Murgatroyd got a picture of the Cetti's Warbler in front of the new pond dipping platform on the Long Water.

Another fine shot by Virginia: a Reed Warbler collecting spider's webs for its nest in the Diana reed bed.

A male Blue Tit sang on a lamp post near the Hyde Park bandstand. I don't think a pair are nesting here yet.

A Jay waited to be fed in a hawthorn near the Italian Garden.

Pictures from farther afield: Tom got a good shot of a Little Owl at Wanstead Flats ...

... and video of a Magpie confronting a Short-Eared Owl at Rainham Marshes.

Joan Chatterley reports that the Great Crested Grebes in Battersea Park have bred much sooner than ours.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

The Mute Swans on the little island in the Long Water have hatched five cygnets from yesterday evening to this morning. They are already out on the water.

The swans nesting in the reeds east of the Lido have hatched four cygnets so far, but there are two eggs to go.

The male, having no part in the proceedings, guarded the nest on the water side.

A Magpie looked down on the scene from a stem. I bribed it with a peanut to go away and leave them in peace.

While I was filming the swans, a Mallard and a Coot had a faceoff. It's not surprising that the aggressive Coot won this staring match.

Coots were fighting on the Long Water.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes have stolen a Coot nest under the willow near the bridge. So far there is no sign that the Coots are trying to take it back.

The swans' nest at the boathouse was started much later, but there are now two eggs.

The eight young Egyptian Geese are now quite large.

The Mallard's four ducklings are more than half grown and look like small versions of their mother.

A pair of Mallards enjoyed surfing down the rapids in the Diana fountain.

I hadn't seen the Grey Wagtail family for two days, and thought they had moved out. There was a Pied Wagtail in their hunting ground at the Lido restaurant yesterday.

But today the young Greys were back in their usual place. They are flying quite far afield now.

There was a sound of fury in a tree near the Italian Garden and a Jay flew out in a hurry. I looked in the tree to see what had driven it out, and there was a Song Thrush perched on a twig and looking pleased with itself.

The Long-Tailed Tits near the Henry Moore sculpture were busy bringing insects to their nest.

A Wood Pigeon ate daisies in the Diana fountain enclosure.

I thought this butterfly near the Italian Garden was a Small White when I was photographing it, but it turns out to be a female Orange Tip. The females have black tips to their wings rather than orange.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Five male Reed Warblers were singing around the lake. I also saw two females.

The unusually visible Green Woodpecker near the Physical Energy statue flew from its nest tree to a branch of the next tall plane in the avenue.

The Coal Tit near the Albert Memorial came down to be fed, and was impatient about being photographed.

One of the Long-Tailed Tits bringing insects to the nest near the Henry Moore sculpture stared gravely at the camera.

A Starling coming to its nest in the Buck Hill shelter was annoyed by a Carrion Crow on the ground, which was minding its own business eating a large worm.

A Magpie pair had a quiet moment in the pink-flowered hawthorn near the Queen's Temple.

Coots often build nests in foolishly exposed places on the edge of the Serpentine, where they are in danger from gulls from above, boats on one side, and humans and dogs on the other. Usually these nests are abandoned in a few days, but this year two pairs of birds have persisted with them and they are quite large and permanently occupied. I don't think either has a hope of success.

One of the blond Egyptian goslings had a good wash and preen. Its flight feathers are coming out and you can see that they are almost as pale as Blondie's but marked with faint darker barring.

Sad news: Hugh Smith, the excellent Royal Parks Wildlife Officer, is moving to a new job in the countryside. We shall miss him a lot. Let's hope his successor is as keen, energetic and knowledgeable.

But there are two good developments in Hyde Park. First, Jabir Belmehdi, some of whose pictures have appeared on this blog, has persuaded the management to plant a new hedge along the Bayswater Road between Victoria Gate (to the east of Lancaster Gate Tube station) and Albion Gate (two thirds of the way to Marble Arch). This will consist of six carefully chosen native species: Holly, Field Maple, Hazel, Hawthorn, Purging Buckthorn and Dog Rose -- and no doubt in time other species will introduce themselves. It should provide a haven for various birds, especially if the management doesn't send in the gardeners to blow out leaf litter under it. And even here there may at last be progress after I have been nagging the management for years: I am getting at least a sympathetic hearing. Don't expect much soon. The first section of the hedge has only just been planted. Here it is.

Second, the Hudson Memorial, which had fallen into a very tatty state, is being restored for the anniversary of W.H. Hudson's death in 2021. The pool in front of the Rima relief has been cleaned up and the little fountain just under the stonework returned to working order -- it provides a bathing and drinking place for birds.

Rima herself needs a good wash, but no doubt she'll get one.

For those unfamiliar with the memorial, Hudson was a notable naturalist, and his records of birds in the park have contributed largely to the list in the right column of this blog. But his day job was as a bestselling novelist, and his most famous book was Green Mansions. Its hero is an English naturalist who visits the South American rainforest and finds an undiscovered tribe. He falls in love with one of their girls, Rima, who dresses in spiders' webs and speaks the language of the birds, but the romance ends in tragedy. It is she who is represented as the lumpy female in Epstein's relief, which was so hated when it was put up that people used to climb the railings and paint it green to camouflage it.

Joan Chatterley sent another picture of the Mute Swan -- Black Swan trio in St James's Park, with the seven cygnets in good order and beginning to grow.

Another view by Tom of the beautiful Short-Eared Owl at Rainham Marshes ...

... and also a Painted Lady butterfly at Wanstead Flats.

But today's most remarkable picture is by Mike Harris, who found a Sparrowhawk on his windowsill a few yards north of Hyde Park. This is likely to be the male of the pair that nest every year near the Old Police House. The distribution of pigeon remains all over the park shows that they occupy a wide territory.

Friday, 14 May 2021

The Green Woodpecker nesting near the Physical Energy statue was calling. It's quite easy to see, as the top of the plane tree is dead and leafless.

A Chaffinch carried insects to a nest in the Rose Garden.

The Long-Tailed Tits near the Henry Moore sculpture were also busy.

A Chiffchaff sang in a tree near the leaf yard.

A Robin looked down from a red-leaved tree.

The two young Grey Herons from the more recent nest are now climbing all over their tree. Their wings are fully developed but I don't think they're doing more than flap at present.

The older ones were also wandering around their nest tree. They can fly properly now.

A young Herring Gull dived looking for food. But it was in the territory of the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull pair, and the female sent it packing. This water is reserved for her to examine.

The Great Crested Grebe pair that nest at the east end of the island have begun work on their nest. You can see a few bits of weed draped over the edge of the basket at the far left of the picture.

The pair from the other end of the island are patrolling their territory but haven't started building.

The Coots on the wire basket near the bridge were building up their nest. Its success is doubtful, as it's in an exposed place next to posts that Herring Gulls like to perch on.

The little stream in the Dell is swarming with midges just above the surface. A Moorhen had a try at catching some.

The Mallard ducklings are better at catching midges than the Moorhen in the previous video, as they can scoot about rapidly.

A pair of Egyptian Geese drank from a small muddy puddle. They seem to prefer their water well flavoured with mud, and never drink from the lake if they have a choice.

The eight goslings rested in a row.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes and got two fine flight shots: a male Marsh Harrier ...

... and a Shorrt-Eared Owl.