Saturday 31 August 2013

The Hobbies were out in Kensington Gardens as usual. While one of them was flying over the Long Water, a Magpie came out and tried to harass it, but was promptly chased away.

The family are still using the American lime tree on the path west of the Tawny Owls' nest tree as their preferred perch. It's a pity that the foliage on this tree is so dense, and they tend to stay in the middle of it rather than come out on an open branch.

One of this year's brood of Mandarins appeared on the Long Water. It now looks almost exactly like an adult female, except that its primaries are not quite fully grown. When they are, they will cross over its tail.

It was time to do the monthly bird count. There were 72 Tufted Duck, an unusually high number for the park, especially as they have no prospect of breeding here. It seems to be a good year for them generally, and over 1000 were reported at the King George reservoir in the Lee Valley on Monday. However, almost all the Cormorants have gone away today, and I only saw one on the Long Water and none on the Serpentine.

There were a dozen juvenile Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Serpentine. One of them was playing with a fallen leaf, throwing it away and picking it up.

But it has not yet graduated to the full game of flying with something and dropping it, then catching it in the air. We may see some of this entertaining behaviour in the winter.

The five young Coots on the Italian Garden pond are no longer being fed by their parents, and have started diving for water plants themselves. Being less than adult size, they are quite agile by the standards of Coots, and could even manage to swim horizontally for a short way and surface head first, unlike the ungainly adults' head-down struggle to stay submerged.

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