Tuesday 23 April 2024

Greylag goslings

Although Blackbirds are in sharp decline in the park they are very noticeable at this time of year when the males are singing constantly. I heard five around the lake. This one was singing in the leaf yard.

The Long-Tailed Tits nesting in the Rose Garden pergola were busy in the bushes looking for insects for their young. One perched in an azalea.

A Wren watched them from the next bush.

The pair of Jays near the Italian Garden that take peanuts from my hand have been away for a while, but are now back and as hungry as ever. Perhaps their supply of buried acorns for the winter has finally given out.

A Pied Wagtail on the edge of the Serpentine ignored a Feral Pigeon lumbering past.

The Coots in the northeast pool in the Italian Garden are down to five chicks, but these are now growing fast. They have turned out to be older than the nine in the other pool, and have entered the period of rapid growth sooner.

A Moorhen amused itself by running around the rail of a planter.

The Mute Swans nesting beside the Lido restaurant terrace now have two eggs ...

... and the pair at the boathouse have one. The female won't start incubating them until she has finished laying. In both places it was the male guarding the nest.

There are five new Greylag goslings on the Serpentine, the first of the year. Their father was keeping the other geese at a distance -- not that they presented any threat, but to show off to his mate about how tough he was.

An Egyptian Goose looked as if he was going to mate, but called off the attempt and started preening his mate instead, which annoyed her.

The pair with seven goslings were on shore and going across the horse ride to feed, but two goslings hadn't come with them and were scooting around on the lake catching midges, and in danger from gulls.

Their mother called urgently to them and they came ashore and trotted across the road.

The teenagers from Marble Arch were sprawled carelessly in the middle of the road, ignoring passing cyclists.

It wasn't the Mallard with five ducklings who lost one to the murderous drake yesterday. The five were safe in the reeds to the east of the Lido.

It was the mother with two younger ones, now reduced to one. She had taken refuge in the reed bed, and was preening while the little one imitated her.

The Mallards from the Dell had come out on to the lawn by the Rose Garden and were poking around amid a flock of pigeons, evidently looking for larvae and worms in the grass.

Two Mandarin drakes dozed side by side at the Triangle.

Monday 22 April 2024

A pair of Cetti's Warblers

The Cetti's Warbler who sings beside the Long Water has a mate. I saw both of them flying through the bushes together and managed to get a picture of one. Not the world's best photograph, but these shy and elusive birds are very hard indeed to catch.

The Cetti on the Serpentine island was singing as well.

Also by the Long Water, a Long-Tailed Tit flew on to a blossoming hawthorn twig.

Two Blackcaps sang at each other from opposite sides of the path.

A Greenfinch wheezed and twittered from a treetop, but refused to turn round.

A Song Thrush was looking nervous ...

... because a Magpie ...

... and a Jay were staring at it from close quarters.

In the Flower Walk, I saw a furious male Blackbird chase a Jay out of the tree where his mate must have been nesting. There was no chance of getting a picture through the branches.

A Pied Wagtail trotted through the slime on the edge of the Serpentine.

No day would be complete without a visit from the Coal Tit at Mount Gate.

The pair of Robins also made an appearance.

I think this Herring Gull at the Triangle had killed the Feral Pigeon it was eating. The usual pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Back was busy with his own pigeon at the far end of the lake, and there were no other big gulls near. I've seen a Lesser Black-Back (not our usual one) killing a pigeon in the same place -- it's full of pigeons because people feed the birds here -- but this was nowhere to be seen. Also the pigeon was still almost entire and hadn't been partly eaten by a previous gull.

A young Grey Heron wandered too close to the female Mute Swan nesting by the Lido restaurant terrace, and her mate sped in to scare it off.

Tufted drakes engage in competitive runs and flights to impress females.

A pair of Gadwalls preened on the Serpentine. I'm very fond of these quiet coloured, well behaved ducks.

What a contrast with the violent behaviour of Mallard drakes. This one at the boathouse killed one of the five Mallard ducklings.

The drakes also drive the females way from their families in attempts to rape them. They seriously impair the survival of their species, and you would have thought that evolution would have bred this behaviour out of them. But it hasn't, any more than it has with murderous Mute Swans.

The Egyptian Geese were also at the boathouse with their seven goslings.

The eldest gosling was grazing at the Lido.

A pretty clump of columbine has come up beside the steps at the northwest corner of the bridge.

Sunday 21 April 2024

All paired up at Mount Gate

A Magpie perched in a tree at Mount Gate. A Robin below was alarmed by this and gave the high-pitched 'predator above' call that small songbirds have in common.

A Coal Tit was not particularly bothered and came to my hand several times to take pine nuts.

The male Blackbird was rootling around on the edge of the path ....

... then went into the undergrowth and started digging in the leaves. I managed to get him to take a sultana thrown on the ground.

A pair of Wood Pigeons perched on the fence. All the birds at Mount Gate are now in pairs, including the Magpies.

This is Tom's picture of the distant Swift seen yesterday over the Serpentine. There was one again today, even farther away, and one martin also so far off that it was impossible to see if it was Sand or House. There will be more soon.

At the Dell restaurant Pigeon Eater had just struck again, and was enjoying a late Sunday lunch with his mate.

At the east end of the island two Grey Herons stood together in the new nest on the left while the chicks in the nest on the right clattered their bills loudly, demanding to be fed.

One of the young herons from the first nest was fishing in the reeds below the Italian Garden.

The Coots in the southwest fountain pool still have their nine chicks.  Their survival is due to the place not being much visited by big gulls.

However, the Coot nest under the bridge was apparently predated, it's not clear what by, and three eggs were taken. The Coots have now returned and are trying again.

The Mute Swan nesting at the Serpentine outflow was turning her eggs. You could see seven.

The Canada Goose is still steadfastly sitting on her nest on the raft in the Long Water. It will be three weeks before we see any result.

The single Egyptian gosling at the Lido is getting its first proper feathers and looks very untidy.

The Mallards were looking after their five ducklings on the swan nest at the boathouse, which was temporarily deserted by the swans.

A pair of Tufted Ducks dived together in the Serpentine. They weren't actually hunting cooperatively as Great Crested Grebes or Cormorants do when fishing, as their prey is small molluscs and insect larvae which don't run away.

A patch of green alkanet by the bridge attracted an Early Bumblebee ...

... and a Honeybee.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Return of the Peregrine

Starlings are well settled in the nest hole in the plane tree by the boathouses which they have used in previous years. (No, I didn't turn up the colour on this picture.)

Another pair of Long-Tailed Tits are nesting in the bushes between the bridge and the Vista. One brought an insect to the nest.

The holly tree also had a Chiffchaff on a high branch.

A Peregrine circled high above, the first time I've seen one in the park for several weeks.

There was one Swift, one Swallow and maybe three Sand Martins over the Long Water, and I didn't get a picture of any of them. Tom got a record shot of the Swift, which I will put up when he sends it. A House Martin was also spotted on the Long water a few days ago.

It was a busy scene at Mount Gate, with the pairs of Coal Tits ...

... Blue Tits ...

... and Robins ...

... and a Blackbird coming out for food. The mate of this male is now accepting pine nuts thrown on the ground, though he remained in the tree. I must get some raisins for them, which Blackbirds love.

A Wren on the edge of the Serpentine surveyed the scene, including the people photographing it.

But sad to say, it looks as if the Goldcrest nest at the bridge has been predated. It was too near the surface of the yew tree, and if I could see it a Magpie could too.

A pair of Grey Herons on the island have built a nest very close to the nest with chicks it it, and were mating on it to the fury of the resident. The chicks, just visible in this picture, were watching too.

The Coot chicks in the Italian garden are growing well. These are three of the six in the northeast pool.

Two very new Mallard ducklings have appeared on the north shore of the Serpentine. Sadly, an awful lot must have disappeared in the two days since they came out of the nest.

They fidgeted and preened.

The other five are in good order and getting bigger by the day. They were at the Lido.

The Mute Swans beside the Lido restaurant terrace are now nesting seriously. The Wildlife Officer, Nick Burnham, has put a fence around the land side of the nest to keep inquisitive humans at a distance.

The swans at the boathouse also seem to be established, and are comfortable on some straw provided by Nick.

The Egyptian Geese here still have their seven goslings in assorted sizes.