Sunday 31 May 2015

A large party of Swifts were flying over the Round Pond in heavy rain. One of them had strange pale shoulders and wing coverts. I don't know what to make of this. It is not a Pallid Swift, which would be a great rarity but has a different pattern of pale areas.

There were some House Martins among them, as there usually are on the Round Pond at this time. I wonder if they nest in the outbuildings of Kensington Palace. There would be no point in the ones from Hyde Park coming all the way up to the pond when there are plenty of insects near their nests.

A little flight of Tufted Ducks was circling over the pond. They seem to have competitive flights where the drakes show off their speed and agility, so it is not just as case of males chasing a female as it would be with Mallards.

The Barnacle Goose is still on the pond, and was strutting around in the wet grass.

But a Green Woodpecker was looking sadly soggy as it probed for worms on the Archery Field.

This is the first Green Woodpecker I have seen here since the three residents were scared off by the building of a large marquee on the field several months ago.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes have taken over an abandoned Coot nest on the Long Water, in the dead willow tree near the Italian Garden. They already have one egg. Probably this will give them the necessary willpower to repel the persistent Coots if they try to reoccupy it.

Another pair of Coots on the Long Water have rebuilt their nest in a silly place in the middle of the lake, which was washed away in a single day the last time they made it. A pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls were bathing in front of it, in a spot they have a habit of using for their ablutions.

This is the Goldcrest nest in the yew tree near the bridge, where I photographed one bird feeding its young yesterday. It is a surprisingly large construction for such a tiny bird, and seems to be durably made of moss stuck together with mud.

The female Little Owl was in a sheltered place in her nest tree, hard to find among the leaves.

Saturday 30 May 2015

A Reed Warblers' nest in the reeds at the Diana fountain has hatched out, and the family were flying around in the reeds.

There was a second singing male in the same reed bed, and another in the one on the other side of the bridge, so we may see more than one family this year.

Also on the other side of the bridge, there is a Goldcrests' nest in a yew tree, and a parent was constantly bringing insects for the nestlings. It caught remarkable quantities in a short time.

In the chestnut tree that the Little Owls nested in last year, a female Blackcap was loudly scolding a couple of Jays that had gone near her nest. She rushed around the tree while doing this, presumably in order to mislead them about where the nest was.

The male Little Owl was in the adjacent tree. He was in exactly the same place every time I went past, with his back to the light, so this dark picture is the only one you will get.

The Coots nesting under the solar panel on the Round Pond have only one chick, but it is thriving in its sheltered place.

The Moorhen nesting on the post near the bridge has finally found a nest decoration that she likes, after throwing out countless leaves and twigs offered by her mate.

The little floating raft in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, built for the resident Moorhens, has an occupant after a slow start this year. It seems that the protective basket on top was woven from live shoots of rose bay willowherb, which has sprouted into a pretty pergola for the royal tenants.

A Nuthatch from one of the nests in the leaf yard came out in the open and perched on a tree waiting for me to feed it. It came down boldly several times for food.

One of the Peregrines at the Marylebone Flyover was flying over.

Friday 29 May 2015

The wandering Barnacle Goose has returned to the park. Virginia Grey found and photographed it at the Round Pond. No one knows where it comes from, but it has been a regular visitor for several years.

Probably it has come to find a place where it can moult its wing feathers, which will make it flightless for several weeks. A lot of other geese have also arrived in the past few days. Here is a party of Canadas coming in.

What a pity that the lake has been turned into an ugly, noisy industrial zone full of machinery by the triathlon. This wretched event is now an annual blight on the park, as huge and disruptive as the winter funfair. The management have forgotten that parks are places where city dwellers come to relax, and have turned the place into a venue for commercial events.

Not only Hyde Park but also Kensington Gardens is constantly churned up by these affairs. There is another hideous giant marquee going up next to the Albert Memorial. This Mistle Thrush, displaced by the disturbance, had moved north towards the Round Pond, an area where I had never seen one before.

The edge of the pond was busy with Pied Wagtail families. I think they nest on the roof of the main block of Kensington Palace, where I have seen them flying in and out. There would be plenty of niches in the old brickwork here that would suit their taste for nest sites. This one is nimbly leaping out of the way of a wave breaking on the kerb.

The pair of Coots that have been trying to build a nest against a post near Peter Pan are at it again. They drag out bits of branch so large that they both have to carry them, drape them over the submerged chain attached to the post, and hope that they will stay there and can become the foundation for a nest. Inevitably the branches slide off and float away.

The Moorhen nest on the reed raft at the east end of the Serpentine is a much more practical affair, on a stable base and well protected by foliage.

A Blackbird near the Flower Walk was in a puddle, apparently having a drink. But it turned out that there was food on offer too, when he pulled a worm out of the water.

The female Little Owl was sitting out in the pair's nest tree, and allowed me to get quite close to photograph her. Normally this nervous bird rushes into her hole before you get within fifty yards of her.

Thursday 28 May 2015

There were three families of Pied Wagtails. Two were on the edge of the Serpentine, and here are three of the young ones running around the hideous plastic pontoon structure which has been built across the lake for the triathlon.

It's a pity that this horrible thing attracts interesting birds while the natural gravel banks carefully made to attract them in the Long Water is only populated by the usual park inhabitants.

Young Pied Wagtails are very beautiful pale versions of their parents. Here is one wading through a puddle beside the Round Pond.

There was a comment by Harry G. in yesterday's blog: he had seen three Great Crested Grebe chicks at the east end of the Serpentine island, being fed by their parents. I hadn't seen them. Today I photographed a pair of adults in this very spot, but there were no chicks. I hope this is a different pair.

In spite of the many gulls on the lake, a pair of Coots next to the small boathouses have managed to keep three chicks alive. Here one of them tries a leaf to see if it's tasty.

There are plenty of young Long-Tailed Tits in the bushes all over the park. Here two of them preen themselves while waiting for their parents to bring food.

The Round Pond was thick with Swifts zooming low over the water. It is a curious thing about acrobatic birds -- not just hirundines but also gulls -- that even when they are pulling tight turns they keep their heads horizontal. A human pilot performing such a manoeuvre would tilt his head at the same angle as the aircraft.

The pair of Mute Swans who have made an on-and-off nesting attempt in the reeds by the Diana fountain seem to be back in residence. Here is one of them with an impassive Grey Heron.

There are remarkably few rabbits on the grass around the Henry Moore sculpture. I saw one yesterday, and this very young one today. I don't think there's been an outbreak of myxonmatosis recently. Can it be all down to the family of foxes beside the lake?

The male Little Owl was tucked up on a high branch in his chestnut tree, not taking much notice of the people who had come to see him.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

There were Blackcaps all round the Long Water, hopping restlessly through the trees. With perseverance, it was possible to get a picture of a male ...

... a female ...

... and a young one, already fledged but still looking a bit fluffy.

The Mute Swans that have invaded the Long Water are lounging all over the new gravel bank.

A pair are nesting in a reed bed on the east side ...

... observed with interest by a fox across the water, standing on a branch of the fallen horse chestnut tree. If they stay in that place, it will have them.

But the swans can't nest on the new island, as it is now in the possession of a pair of Canada Geese who will fiercely defend their nest. Yesterday I saw the sitting bird turning at least three eggs, which were still unhatched and intact. They should hatch in the next few days.

A Grey Heron was standing in the waterlily bed in one of the Italian Garden pools, which contains both carp and perch -- though no one knows how these got in.

The fish tend to shelter under the waterlily leaves. The heron knows this.

The male Little Owl was in his usual tree, staring down at the meaningless antics of humans.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

The unlucky Mute Swan on the Long Water has lost not only his mate but his territory. Yesterday a large band of swans, driven off the Serpentine by the gargantuan building works for the triathlon, invaded, and although he did his best to drive them away they are in control now, shamelessly courting in his backyard ...

... and engaging in random acts of hooliganism, which used to be his privilege.

He will have to find a new mate and fight hard to win back his water.

The Reed Warblers at the Diana memorial fountain were flying across the gap in the reed bed, which made them much easier to see than usual.

A male Pied Wagtail with three young was hunting insects on the jetty of the Lido bathing area, which is a good place for them because bugs lurk in the grooves in the non-slip matting. The young birds were already hunting for themselves, and when one of them went to his father to beg for food he was told off sharply.

A Treecreeper was also looking for insects near the Speke obelisk.

This Dunnock at the Albert Memorial was having to make do with seeds.

There is a Magpies' nest on the east side of the Long Water near the bridge with two young in it, almost old enough to leave. Here is one of them looking out amid the blossom.

The male Little Owl was in his usual place, posing for his daily photo-op with practised ease.