Thursday 31 July 2014

There are still a few late-hatched birds in the bushes calling to be fed, such as this Blackbird under a bush in the Flower Walk.

Sorry about the low quality of this picture: it was a dark place and the exposure time had to be too long.

The half-grown Coot chick at Peter Pan, an only child with indulgent parents, is also expecting to be fed. But when its parents are away it happily finds its own food.

This young Pied Wagtail was efficiently finding its own insects in the gaps between the planks on the landing stage near the Diana fountain.

This fine picture was taken by Mike Meilack.

A Feral Pigeon in the Flower Walk was drinking from a leaky hose.

When it had drunk enough it used the spray as a shower.

It took three visits to find the male Little Owl, who was sitting in another part of his usual chestnut tree.

The Great Crested Grebes' nest on the island still had a bird sitting in it, so it seems that they have not yet finished hatching their eggs.

This gorgeous flying jewel is a male Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens). As you can see from its folded wings, it is a large kind of damselfly. It was in the bushes at the bottom of the Triangle car park.

A pair of Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonflies were mating in the air near the outflow of the lake. When the pair had separated, the male flew low over the water and kept dipping the tip of his abdomen it it -- you can see the succession of rings of ripples.

I don't know what he was doing.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

One of the young Tawny Owls appeared again in the usual chestnut tree near the leaf yard, more visible than usual in the thick foliage.

The Little Owl was also out in his usual place, dozing in the sunshine.

There was a brief glimpse of a Hobby over the Vista, heading towards the avenue of tall plane trees south of the Physical Energy Statue.

I looked carefully at the trees but couldn't see where it had perched.

There is still one Common Tern on the Long Water. Here it is stretching its wings before flying off on a fishing expedition.

A Great Crested Grebe chick was again dimly visible in the nest on the Serpentine island, but we shall have to wait till their parents take them out before we can get a proper view of them.

The grebes on the nest on the east side of the Vista had just changed places, and the male enjoyed a good splash before going fishing.

But one of two Mallard ducklings on the Long Water had a much bigger splash by swimming under a jet of water spouting from the marble fountain.

In the reeds beside the fountain there was a Common Darter dragonfly (Sympetrum striolatum).

There were also plenty of Emperor dragonflies and Common Blue damselflies.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

There was a slightly better view of one of the new Great Crested Grebe chicks under the bushes at the east end of the Serpentine island.

The parent had been preening and one of its small feathers had come out, so this was offered to the chick. They start on an adult diet of fish as soon as they are hatched, and need feathers to wrap up the sharp bones and prevent them from damaging their inside.

There was just one Common Tern on the Long Water again today.

The family with two young seem to have gone away, despite the fact that the lake is now teeming with small fish. This tern was probably a different, unattached one. It seemed lonely, as it called occasionally, but no other tern showed up.

The Robins in the shrubbery are silent -- this is the only time of year when they don't sing -- and are therefore not as noticeable as usual. But this one came out of the leaf yard to be fed.

Their young are independent now, and soon all the Robins will begin to claim their winter territories and start singing again. They have individual territories, and females and males both sing to defend them.

There is a yellow plum tree a little to the east of the purple plum tree by the Triangle car park. Both trees have good sweet fruit of a rather small size. It was being visited by a flock of Long-Tailed Tits, hunting for insects on the plums.

The male Little Owl was in his usual chestnut tree, though on a different branch.

He was the only owl I could find today, but one owl is better than none.

Two isolated reed stems sticking out of the water in front of a reed bed near the Italian Garden have for some days been the headquarters of three male Common Blue damselflies. They perch on the stems until an insect comes by, and then speed out and seize it.

There was a Flower Beetle on the ragwort on Buck Hill.

They look different from other beetles because their shiny metallic green wing cases don't meet in the middle.

Monday 28 July 2014

The Great Crested Grebes nesting at the east end of the island do indeed have chicks. It is very hard to see what is going on in the darkness under the bushes, but here you can just see the stripy head and neck of a chick as it reaches up to take some food from a parent, I think its mother. The father can dimly be seen on the left with his wings raised, no doubt sheltering more chicks.

The nest on the east side of the Vista has four eggs in it. Here a parent is turning them over to keep them evenly warmed.

There seemed to be only one Common Tern on the lake. It perched on one of the posts at Peter Pan. All the other posts were occupied by various gulls and a couple of Cormorants. A Black-Headed Gull wanted a perch and thought it would be easy to knock a smaller bird off it, but the Tern wouldn't be moved and pecked at the gull as it hovered.

After several tries the gull gave up and flew away.

The male Little Owl was in his usual place on the chestnut tree.

There seemed to be some hope of finding a Tawny Owl, because a Great Spotted Woodpecker was perched on a tree next to the chestnut where the young owls generally go, and was scolding loudly.

But no one could find the owl. Maybe the woodpecker could see it, but we couldn't.

An odd squeaking call from inside one of the small boathouses turned out to be from a young Feral Pigeon sitting on a beam.

A shoal of small fish were swimming around in the Long Water near the Italian Garden. I was photographing them when suddenly there was a big splash and they scattered, some of them leaping into the air. I had no idea what had happened until I got home and looked at this picture, which shows a large fish snapping at them.

The details are not at all clear, but I think it must be a pike.

There is a clump of deadnettles (Lamium album) in the reed bed at the east end of the Serpentine -- plants that look very like stinging nettles but are harmless. Their small white flowers didn't attract many insects, but eventually a honeybee arrived and gave them an unenthusiastic once-over.

Sunday 27 July 2014

There was a Common Sandpiper on the tern raft on the Long Water.

They are not common at all in the park, and you might see one a year if you are lucky.

A Little Grebe was fishing nearby, and then came up to the edge of the Italian Garden.

This is the first Little Grebe that I (and, I think, anyone else) have seen here for several months. It is in its full chestnut-brown breeding plumage, but there was no sign of a mate, and the bird was not calling.

This Great Crested Grebe in the nest on the island was holding its wings half open, clearly in the posture that grebes adopt when they have chicks on their back.

I waited for a small stripy head to come into view, but in vain.

There is a new small Coot chick near Peter Pan -- just one survivor.

Two Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the posts were eyeing it hungrily.

The young Magpies near the Henry Moore sculpture are still playing with toys. This one had a yoghurt pot and was happily picking it up and waving it around and putting it down again.

When one of its siblings tried to snatch the pot, the Magpie flew into a tree still carrying it, and managed a successful landing in spite of having its forward vision completely obscured.

The male Little Owl was in the chestnut tree next to his nest tree, but in an awkward position where he could only be seen from directly below. Here he is preening his wing.

His mate was reported to be in her usual lime tree, but I couldn't find her when I went past. She moves around quite a lot. Nor could I find any Tawny Owls today, though one young one was seen yesterday in the usual chestnut tree.

This butterly in the ragwort patch across the road from Buck Hill is a male Common Blue, but I only know that because I could see the bright blue upper sides of his wings when he was flying. Females are duller in colour, but both look much the same with their wings folded. He would not open his wings to be photographed.

Saturday 26 July 2014

The hot weather was affecting a Cormorant perched in the fallen horse chestnut tree on the Long Water. It was panting and vibrating its throat to cool down, causing its neck feathers to flutter in an odd way.

The Reed Warbler family near the Diana fountain were undeterred the Saturday crowds a few feet from their reed bed. One of the young ones poked its head out to see what was happening.

The solitary Coot chick at Peter Pan is visibly larger. Here it stands boldly on the nest while a Black-Headed Gull stares down at it.

If this had been a Herring Gull, it would have been a different story, but the number of large gulls is now down into single figures on both lakes together. Not all the Black-Headed Gulls have returned from their summer quarters, and there are only about 50 so far.

The female Little Owl was staring down from her usual lime tree.

Several people arrived to look at her, and she was annoyed and flew away. Her mate, in his favourite place in the chestnut tree, was unperturbed.

The long grass on Buck Hill is alive with crickets and grasshoppers. I think this one is a Common Green Grasshopper, Omocestus viridulis.

The Emperor dragonflies are still hunting in the reeds near the Italian Garden. This is a male resting on a reed.

Friday 25 July 2014

The Common Terns are still flying around the lake catching fish for the family. Here is one of the adults taking time off to preen its wings.

Since terns are only occasional visitors, I haven't had a chance to see the young ones learning the considerable skill of fishing from the air. They must follow and try to copy the adults, but it can't be easy plunging head first into the water from a height of thirty feet and grabbing the fish at the end of it. Seeing fish at all in the murky lake is not easy either. Terns save themselves trouble by shadowing the Great Crested Grebes, which know exactly where the fish are because they look for them underwater.

There is a new brood of six Mallard ducklings on the Serpentine near the small boat houses.

I was doing my monthly bird count today and noticed that the number of Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls was unusually low, which is good news for the young birds.

Duckweed has started to appear on the ponds in the Italian Gardens, probably brought it on the feet of visiting ducks. The small green leaves can grow into a continuous mat all over still water, as has happened on the little pond in front of the relief of Rima in Hyde Park. But the Mallards are fond of duckweed and will eat it as fast as it grows.

On the same pond, one of the teenage Moorhens was shaking out its newly grown flight feathers. I don't think it can quite fly yet.

One of the Tawny Owlets was in the usual chestnut tree near the leaf yard. It is probably the same one every time, and the other two are in another tree that no one has found.

The male Little Owl was sheltering from a thunderstorm under the thick canopy of the chestnut tree next to the nest tree, and passing the time by preening.

A clump of eryngium next to the Dell restaurant had attracted some bumble bees.