Tuesday 30 June 2015

A Magpie, perched traditionally on a stump, was feeling the heat.

A Wood Pigeon was cooling off in a puddle.

Charlie the Carrion Crow had plunged into the Long Water, and was shaking himself dry on a willow tree.

The Mute Swans who were nesting on the island in the Long Water have deserted their nest for no reason that I can see. They have not been on it for several days. I was hoping that I had just chanced to pass by when they were taking a break, but there is no doubt now. This island seems to bring misfortune to the swans that use it. However, these Canada Geese nested there successfully, and they have now reclaimed it and were taking their ease next to the abandoned swan eggs.

Remarkably, the pair of foolish Egyptian Geese on the Long Water have kept two of their young alive for a week now, the longest they have ever managed in the decade they have been here -- they were the first pair of Egyptians to arrive in the park. Can they break the jinx?

The Coots nesting directly under the parapet of the Italian Garden have at least three eggs.

It is another wet nest site, since it is next to one of the waterspouts at the side of the marble fountain.

The male Little Owl was back in the chestnut tree where the pair nested.

We don't know whether they bred successfully. They are very good at keeping their young out of sight.

A Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly was taking a rest on a twig in the water near Peter Pan.

And a Common Blue damselfly was hunting over the water at the east end of the Serpentine.

Only damselflies can fold their wings; those of dragonflies are fixed in a spread position. But both damselflies and dragonflies fold up their legs when flying to reduce drag. So the retractable undercarriage dates back 325 million years, to the time when these insects first appeared. Some early dragonflies were huge. The largest -- and the biggest insect that has ever lived -- was Meganeuropsis permiana, which had a wingspan of 28 in (710 mm) and was 17 in (430 mm) in length. Here is a picture of a life-size reconstruction of this mighty creature by the biologist and artist Leandro Sanches da Costa.

Monday 29 June 2015

There were reports of an injured Mute Swan near the Lido, and Malcolm the Wildlife Officer had been called to look at it. It had probably been attacked by a dog. But it was not badly hurt, and I found it later looking bloody but unbowed.

I had expected it to be one of the swans from the nest in the reed bed near the Diana fountain, who have already survived a fox attack and lost their first clutch of eggs, but the pair were sitting there quite calmly and all seemed well.

The Reed Warbler family in this reed bed were not very active today, but there was plenty going on in the bed at the other side of the bridge, with young ones jumping around in the reeds and adults flying into trees to find insects for them. They are easier to see from the bridge, but it is a bit far for a good photograph and this one, of one of the young birds, is the best I could manage.

In the same place, there was a Mallard with two ducklings, one of them very blond. It is not quite without markings, so if it survives (the odds are against it) it will probably be pale rather than pure white like the one at the Dell restaurant.

The Magpie family near the Henry Moore sculpture were playing around. Here the three young ones are giving a Wood Pigeon a hard time. It left soon afterwards.

At least two of the Pied Wagtails have become absolutely fearless of humans -- this is not the one I photographed earlier. He was running around at the edge of the Serpentine literally under my feet, and I had to move away to take this picture.

On the other side of the Serpentine one of the Carrion Crows had seen a sandwich in a transparent rubbish bag, and expertly ripped the bag and removed the sandwich in seconds.

The Heron at the Italian Garden was after more traditional food, and was rapidly catching small fish under the marble fountain.

Both Hobbies were flying near the Physical Energy statue, but I couldn't get a picture as they whirled around between the trees. Evidently they were after dragonflies, of which there are a great many at the moment. This one is a male Emperor dragonfly seen from the Italian Garden balustrade.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Here is a close view of the Great Crested Grebes' nest on the Serpentine island, thanks to the kind people at Bluebird Boats who took me out in a motor boat to get the picture.

And this is the solitary Coot chick from the absurdly situated nest on the boat platform.

Mateusz told me that he had rescued this chick more than once when it had wandered off into danger. He also said that he had tried last year to help the Coots nesting in the small boathouse by putting it in a plank to allow the chicks to climb up on to the platform when they fell into the water. But they refused to use it, and he had had to rescue them with a net. We agreed that Coots aren't very bright.

But they are certainly persistent. The pair nesting on the edge of the weir at the Serpentine outflow, who had lost all their eggs, have laid another two. There is a plank here so that if any chicks hatch and fall down the weir they can climb up again, but it doesn't seem to make any difference to the zero per cent survival rate from this nest over the years.

Female ducks are emerging from purdah after the nesting season, from which just two young Mallards have survived. No Mandarins have made it, and I didn't even see any Red Crested Pochard ducklings, although they have occasionally succeeded in past years. Here are two female Mandarins at Peter Pan ...

... and two female Red Crested Pochards having a mild disagreement at the Serpentine island.

The eldest Canada gosling is now growing its black-and-white adult face.

A Hobby was visible in a plane tree near the Speke obelisk.

And the male Little Owl was in his usual chestnut tree despite the morning rain.

This beautiful Comma butterfly was in the reed bed at the southeast corner of the Serpentine.

Saturday 27 June 2015

The Reed Warbler family on the Long Water next to the bridge can be seen from the bridge, flying around the water side of their little reed bed. But they are too far away for a good picture, so here is one of the easier family next to the Diana fountain.

The reed bed near the bridge also had a Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) in it, though it would not get into a position where you could appreciate its fine markings.

And there are lots of Common Blue damselflies here, of which the males are bright blue ...

... and the females a light greenish beige, which makes them quite hard to see.

There was just one Black-Headed Gull on the Serpentine -- not the first one to return from its breeding grounds to the park, as there were five on the Round Pond a few days ago. It was circling hungrily among the boats ...

... watching the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull ripping up another victim, and was clearly hoping to be able to swoop in for a quick bite.

 A Wood Pigeon was bathing in the little pool at the top of the waterfall in the Dell.

There was a Treecreeper near the Tawny Owls' tree, which I visit daily in the hope that an owl might be visible. None was.

However, the male Little Owl was on his usual branch in the chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

Friday 26 June 2015

The Coots' nest in one of the small boathouses has hatched out, and two chicks were visible. Unfortunately this is a very bad place for a nest, because it is on a platform. When the chicks fall off this into the water they can't get back. It would be kind to put a plank in this boathouse with one end in the water so that they can climb back, and I tried to find Mateusz or  Łukasz at Bluebird Boats, who are friends to Coots, to suggest this to them, but they weren't around. Will try again tomorrow.

The other small boathouse also has a Coots' nest in it, though this can't be seen from the shore side. This is the birthplace of the three half-grown chicks that are hanging around the boathouses at the moment.

The Reed Warbler family near the Diana fountain were climbing busily around in the reeds, and one of the young ones came out at the front for a few seconds.

The small patch of reeds on the Long Water, just the other side of the bridge, also has a Reed Warbler family in it. The parents fly out of the reeds into a nearby oak tree to gather insects for the young. It's a difficult place to get a photograph because the reeds were cut down last year (as they should be periodically, to encourage new growth) and there are no tall dry stems for the birds to climb up.

One of the Hobbies could be seen at the top of a plane tree near the Speke obelisk.

A large flock of Long-Tailed Tits was working its way along the west side of the Long Water.

This Grey Heron had been sunbathing, and settled on a post near Peter Pan and shook itself vigorously. I think the idea is that the sunlight causes pests to come to the surface of their feathers, where they can be shaken off.

A female Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly was resting on the stonework of the Italian Garden.

This cricket was walking across the path on the east side of the Long Water, near Rudolf Steiner's bench. I looked it up when I got home and found that it was a female Roesel's Bush-Cricket, Metrioptera roeselii.

I say 'was', because unfortunately a Magpie saw that I was looking at something, came over to see what it was, and ate it.

Thursday 25 June 2015

The Coots' nest in a very exposed place on the platform of Bluebird Boats has hatched out, to people's amazement. Two of the chicks were eaten by gulls yesterday, but at least one survives. Here it was sheltering under the platform as a pedalo swept past inches away.

The foolish Egyptian Geese on the Long Water still have three young after several days. After a decade of utter failure, maybe they are beginning to learn how to look after their brood, but I'm not hopeful.

Meanwhile, their adopted offspring is growing into an elegant adult who will not be quite as blonde as her mother.

The Canada Goose family from the Long Water island were taken on a tour of the lake by their parents, finishing with a begging session at Peter Pan.

The Mute Swans on the Serpentine were jealously guarding their two cygnets, even shooing away a harmless Mallard which came too near.

There are young Pied Wagtails around both lakes and the Round Pond. Here for a change is an adult male searching for insects in the algae at the edge of the Dell restaurant terrace.

It was the male Little Owl's turn to perch on the pair's favourite branch in the chestnut tree near the Leaf Yard.

The insect-rich patch of scrub near the bridge yielded a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

A honeybee was collecting pollen on one of the clumps of purple loosestrife in the Italian Garden ponds.