Sunday 31 January 2016

The Black Swan's old girlfriend passed him on the Serpentine. He gave her a mild greeting, but she swept by with a haughty air.

He went back to his new girlfriend and they cruised away side by side.

The Great Crested Grebes building a nest under the willow tree near the bridge had added some more bits of slimy weed and randomly placed twigs and gone away. A Coot came in and started dismantling the nest to build a better made one of its own.

But one of the grebes saw this and came over. The Coot left hastily, and the grebe replaced the bit of weed that the Coot had pulled off.

A grebe's nest may look like a mess to us, but they know what they like.

Another grebe near the Italian Garden was fishing around the edge of one of the water bubblers.

These seem to be favoured areas, probably because the bubbles bring up bits of edible stuff that the fish can eat. However, the grebe didn't catch anything while I was there. The Cormorants have reduced fish stocks to a minimum. This also means that nothing will come of the grebes' nest by the bridge, and the birds will have to wait till summer before they can make a serious attempt at breeding.

This tangle of enormous the Grey Herons' nest on the island turns out, on closer inspection, to be the pair mating.

The heron nest that was occupied by Egyptian Geese still has one sitting there, which you can see when it puts its head up. I think it's nesting seriously rather than just squatting. Egyptians have no idea of a breeding season and will try whenever they feel like it.

A young Herring Gull was playing with a piece of wood. It dropped it into the water and dived vertically to catch it.

A Carrion Crow landed on the roof of one of the small boathouses, and several Herring Gulls that had been sitting there left at once. Crows chase gulls, and the gulls regard them as a serious nuisance.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits were calling to each other in the shrubbery on the east side of the Long Water.

There was another pair on the other side. Their usual winter habit is to go around in flocks. It seems that the false dawn of spring has affected them too.

Coal Tits have been singing in the past few days. But they usually start early.

And two Nuthatches were calling to each other in the treetops near Queen's Gate.

Saturday 30 January 2016

This is not a picture you would expect in late January: a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee among blossom.

It was taken in the shrubbery below the Triangle car park. In the same place there were a small flock of Long-Tailed Tits ...

... with a Goldcrest among them ...

... and a fat Wood Pigeon staring mildly at the camera.

A big male Mute Swan has taken possession of the area behind the reed rafts at the east end of the Serpentine. The Black Swan also likes this sheltered place, but now every time he goes in he gets chased out again.

He went off to be consoled by girlfriend number two, and displayed and called to her.

The Great Crested Grebes who have been building a nest in the willow tree near the bridge were also displaying in the middle of the Long Water.

Meanwhile, some Mallards were eating their partly completed nest.

One of the pair of Kingfishers was in the same place every time I went past. This is the reed bed a few yards north of the fallen horse chestnut tree in the Long Water. It perches either on a post or in the reeds immediately behind. This is too far away for a good picture.

A Jackdaw was looking fine in the afternoon sun.

There were nine of them around the Henry Moore sculpture.

As the light was fading and I was going home past the Albert Memorial, I startled a Mistle Thrush on the grass and it flew into a plane tree.

Friday 29 January 2016

The Black Swan was at the east end of the Serpentine, paying great attention to the young Mute Swan I have been describing as 'the girlfriend's brother', but it is becoming plain that this is a female swan, and now she will be called 'girlfriend number two'. He was displaying and calling, and she seemed quite receptive to his advances.

The ex-girlfriend was at the other end of the lake by herself, perhaps looking a bit sad. It seems that it was he who dumped her, for unknown reasons. But over the past a few days a swan of her own kind has been taking an interest in her, and perhaps love will blossom again. Mute Swans mate for life, no doubt after a bit of experimental flirting.

So do Carrion Crows. A pair just up the hill seemed very fond of each other.

And also Great Crested Grebes. The pair at the bridge were building their nest again -- or at least what passes for nest building with grebes, which is to dump weed and twigs vaguely on top of a submerged branch until by chance some of it sticks.

I don't know about the love life of Gadwalls, but they usually go around in pairs and are much less aggressively lustful than Mallards. There was a pair beside the Dell restaurant, and here is the female looking for food among some floating leaves.

One of the Grey Heron nests on the island was occupied by an Egyptian Goose.

However, the one nest that seems to be in active use still had the usual heron standing in it.

The muddy waste covering most of the Parade Ground is covered with birds looking for worms and insects, mostly gulls and crows and, here, Starlings, which seemed to be finding a lot of food.

There was also a pair of Pied Wagtails dashing around.

A dozen Rose-Ringed Parakeets were on the ground near the leaf yard. They don't go on the ground much, and it was not clear what had attracted them. But the picture shows that they were eating small fluffy things that had fallen off a tree.

The Herring Gulls' playground on the south side of the Serpentine had three young gulls amusing themselves. One had a stone, but that is a common toy for them. Another had picked up a wooden wedge.

And a third was playing with a tennis ball, which it could only just grasp with its beak at full stretch. It rolled interestingly when dropped, and was clearly a success.

Thursday 28 January 2016

The sunshine had brought out insects, even on a chilly midwinter day, and the birds were busy hoovering them up. A Long-Tailed Tit was clinging to a vertical branch ...

... and a Nuthatch had gone completely over the top ...

... but, as usual, the prize for defying gravity went to a Treecreeper, running along the underside of a branch. It has an insect on its pointed tongue.

A Blue Tit was in a more conventional position, probing a leaf bud for possible insects.

This is one of the pair of Song Thrushes whose male often sings in winter in the leaf yard.

A Carrion Crow in a tree near the Serpentine island was rattling menacingly at some passing gulls.

A Jackdaw beside the Henry Moore statue was peacefully enjoying a peanut when a Magpie darted in and tried to seze it.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were starting to build a nest under the willow tree near the bridge.

This is the second time they have begun a nest this winter. They are not serious about it, and don't have a chance of breeding until summer when the supply of small fish is adequate for feeding their chicks.

Incidentally, the number of Cormorants on the lake is way down, a sign that they have pretty much fished the place out.

A Mandarin drake came across the lake to Peter Pan.

The Black Swan was at the landing stage by the Diana fountain, alone.

His girlfriend -- or perhaps ex-girlfriend, I haven't seen them together for days now -- was at the far end of the Serpentine.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

The Black Swan is back in his usual place at the east end of the Serpentine. He was going around with his girlfriend's 'brother' (who may actually be female too), but his girlfriend was elsewhere.

Relations between them seemed a bit cool in the days before he disappeared. But swans are moody creatures.

A Mute Swan was having a vigorous wash. They open their bills when washing, which makes them look happy, though this may be an illusion.

The white Mallard drake, who had also been away, is back too and was at the Dell restaurant, where some people were feeding the ducks.

Both Pochard--Tufted Duck hybrids were on the Long Water. I think this is the same two, clearly sisters, that we first saw three years ago, but this is the first time I've seen them together since then.

Originally one had a larger patch of white beside her bill, but now their markings are very similar. One is slightly lighter than the other.

Several of the Black-Headed Gulls on the Serpentine are now in breeding plumage, with a dark brown (not black) head and dramatically beetroot-coloured bill and feet.

This is the Carrion Crow beside the Serpentine that flies over my head and bashes me if I don't feed it quickly.

The Wren at the Queen's Gate crossing of the Flower Walk came out when I was talking to some people and foraged unconcernedly under the railings.

A Great Tit saw me walking across Buck Hill and landed on a tree stump in front of me to make sure I noticed her and produced some pine nuts.

Tom Bell took this fine picture of a Song Thrush pulling up a worm in the leaf yard.