Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The long grass on Buck Hill, which was full of grasshoppers and crickets, has just been mown, as it is every autumn. It is now covered with Carrion Crows and Magpies.

Presumably most of the insects are still there, and it doesn't matter to the birds whether these are alive or dead. The crows had been able to forage in the long grass before, since it was hard for them to walk in, and had had to be content with trotting up and down the edge and reaching in to try to grab an insect.

One of the crows had a go at perching in a rowan tree to eat the fruit, but the twigs were too thin and flexible to give it a foothold, and after a few seconds of struggle it gave up and flew away. Magpies, which are a lot lighter, can manage quite well in these trees.

A Great Crested Grebe from the nest on the fallen poplar in the Long Water came up to the bridge carrying the two chicks.

You can tell from a considerable distance that a grebe has babies on board, because when it raises its wings to make a space for them this exposes its white secondaries, which make a diagonal line against the brown background.

The two other chicks on the Long Water were visible at a distance, and the two eldest chicks on the Serpentine were up at the Lido with their parents. Here is the family of three from the reed bed at the east end of the lake. As the father approached with a fish, it was that crucial who'll-get-it moment.

It was the chick in the middle that got the fish.

While this was going on, one of the male Mute Swans felt like a bit of bullying, and chased its victim right out of the water, pecking at its tail when it fled.

Oddly, the beached swan returned to the water in a few seconds without trouble, and the bully swam off to find a new victim.

The Hobbies are still here, but didn't give us a photo opportunity.


  1. i saw a green woodpecker flying out of the grass on buck hill this afternoon. i wonder of they were enjoying the grasshopperfest as well?

    the gardeners seem to have had a merry old time felling trees recently. the magnificent horse chestnut in the vista between queen caroline's temple & the bridge is gone, though it looked fine to me. and another beautiful spring blossoming tree on the way to peter pan gone as well. i wonder why?
    i hope it's not more 'gardenisation' of the park & gardens. it's the park's wild bits that are so attractive. who needs incongruous stale alien bedding plants all over?i would hate it to become like regent's park. all formal.
    have you noticed that trend too?

    love the pic of the swan battle. they are bruisers aren't they.

    Mark W2

    1. There's a pair of Green Woodpeckers in the trees at the bottom of Buck Hill, near the martial arts bandstand, and you can often hear them yaffling in this area.

      Do you mean the big horse chestnut tree behind the railings on the path between the bridge and the Vista? Its entire top fell off in the night a couple of weeks ago, falling over the path and crushing the railings. Looking at the remains, you can see that it was extensively rotten. The tree surgeons have been examining and hacking trees all over the park but they missed this one -- well, you can't catch them all. Lucky no one was on the path.

      This tree was actually pretty sick, with leaf miner moth. That is only an external infestation affecting the leaves and would not have rotted the trunk. Leaf miner eggs overwinter in the leaf litter under the tree, so the trees on open grassy areas that are mown are fairly free of it, but this one on natural ground was badly affected.

      The gardeners seem to have been having a blitz on cherry trees in particular -- don't know why.

      I very much agree with you about the importance of keeping areas wild. A couple of years ago there was some speculation about getting celebs to sponsor bits of the park. It would be nice if they could sponsor odd corners that could be fenced off and allowed to run wild. 'The Mick Jagger Wilderness' sounds splendid. And think of how good it would be for all kinds of creatures.

  2. i love your expression 'martial arts bandstand' hahaha! doubt if it was built for this purpose but i know exactly what you mean.

    thanks for the report on the horse chestnut tree. omg. i didn't see it had collapsed as i haven't been able to do my near daily walk for a couple of weeks. what a shame. i'll miss it. and so will two squirrels who used to chase each other round its trunk cartoon style. thank goodness i took so many photos of that perfect view to the bridge.

    i had always thought that all the grounds behind the railing was effectively a wildlife reserve but it seems not. it needs conserving as such. i see the creeping gardenisation as a job creation scheme by the gardeners. the more bedding plants - the more they have to take care of.
    this is all part of a larger tendency to what i call 'urban deforestation'. on my little street in bayswater it's amazing how many trees have been lost to house extension schemes / whimsy. easy to chop down. hard to regrow. bring on the 'sir mick jagger wilderness' or the 'sting savannah' i say!

    Mark W2