Thursday 30 June 2016

In the oak tree near the Albert Memorial, one of the adult Little Owls was visible.

There was no sign of the owlets, which were probably inside the hole. They are younger than the ones near the leaf yard. One of these could be seen today in the nest tree.

On another branch just below, its father stared at me suspiciously over his shoulder.

The Mistle Thrushes to the east of the Albert Memorial have probably lost one brood to the ever present Magpies, since they were seen gathering worms to feed a new brood. Here is one of them enjoying some early berries.

The teenage Mandarin at the Vista, having known nothing but admiration from humans all its short life, is very tame. Here it is eating peanuts out of Paul's hand.

The Bar-Headed Goose was swimming briskly from the island to the east end of the Serpentine. It came ashore to be given a few bits of biscuit.

But it was outdone in speed by the Black Swan, who raced over to be given his customary biscuit when he saw me on the shore.

The dominant female swan on the Long Water, leading her cygnets around, furiously chased some Greylag Geese away from the Vista. Then she went for the Mallards. This drake lost several feathers when she seized him.

The Coots on the post near Peter Pan were decorating their dangerous nest with a glittering gold snack packet.

The Great Crested Grebe chick came right out out into the middle of the lake. It looked on enviously as its parent caught a large perch to small to feed to the chick, and it the fish itself.

Here are two mystery pictures. The first is some mushrooms growing on a tree root north of the Round Pond. They are shown next to a pound coin to give an idea of their size. I can't find anything like them on any of the identification pages.

Update: Mario tells me that it's a Poplar Fieldcap, Agrocybe cylindracea. It's growing on a long bit of exposed root of uncertain ownership, but not a poplar.

The second are these bones, chewed by foxes, on the west side of the Long Water. They were on the far side of the railings, so I couldn't get close to them. The front one seems to be a femur, and the shaft is about an inch in diameter.

I thought they looked alarmingly like those of a nine-year-old child, and hope to be proved wrong.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Yesterday Fran was walking past the oak tree near the Albert Memorial where the Little Owls nested. She saw two faces peering out of the hole, and took this picture.

But she had the short lens on her camera, and by the time she had switched over they had vanished back into the tree.

This morning I went past with a long lens, and amazingly there were again two owl faces in the hole. And they weren't the adults we have seen here before, they were owlets. It was a dull grey day, but I got a photograph.

In the chestnut trees near the leaf yard, only the male Little Owl was visible.

In this picture he looks as big and round as his mate, but that is because he was fluffed up on a chilly damp morning. You can tell him from the female by the larger area of pale feathers at the inner edges of his eyebrows. (This is not the sign of a male owl, it's just a difference between individuals.)

A Great Black-Backed Gull visited the Long Water and stood on the posts at Peter Pan, dwarfing a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Back.

The Coots nesting under the Bluebird Boats platform have managed to keep three chicks from the gulls.

One of the young Moorhens at the east end of the Serpentine had stopped begging for food from its parents and wandered off to forage in the debris under the entrance ramp to the restaurant.

The food requirements of a Moorhen are pretty simple: just about anything that has the slightest nutritional value. By its own standards it was doing well.

I couldn't find any Mandarin ducklings. But the teenager from the earlier brood was on the Long Water. Here it is on a post at the Vista. It can now fly well, and I found it again later on the other side of the lake by the Henry Moore sculpture.

Although the Mallard drakes are going into eclipse, they are as lustful as ever. One was chasing a female over Buck Hill. She dived and fell back out of his field of view and landed in a tree while he charged on. She stood there looking rather pleased with herself.

The Black Swan saw me, came over, and called loudly for a biscuit.

He knows I walk round the lake, and intercepted me on the other side for a second biscuit.

There was a great mob of Greylag Geese with goslings on the south side of the lake.

The number of young geese of all species is now over 35.

There haven't been many sightings of Grey Wagtails recently, but Tom found one yesterday. It's a young one, with only a hint of adult bright yellow under its tail.

A Magpie near the bridge was rummaging through a pile of lawn mowings looking for insects and worms.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

The tiny Moorhen chicks on the Italian Garden pond can run over the surface of the algae, but when they stop they start to sink in.

The Mandarin family at the Vista are down to three ducklings. Their mother was looking after them attentively ...

... while Death sailed elegantly overhead.

In the Italian Garden, a gnat was about to meet its doom at the hands of a Blue-Tailed Damselfly.

It's becoming increasingly plain that the three smallest goslings of the combined Canada Goose family are Greylags. They are in a row at the back of this picture. Note their greyish-brown bills and legs, in contrast to the black ones of the two young Canadas at the front.

The Black Swan was near the Diana fountain, preening his splendid new ruffles.

This rabbit under the Henry Moore arch is not recollecting an acutely embarrassing experience. It's just grooming its face.

There was one young Grey Heron in each of the nests on the island -- this is the eastern one where two young were hatched. Hoarse cries came from the tree on the right, where a Carrion Crow was annoying the other one, probably the one seen flying in yesterday's photograph.

At the Dell restaurant, a Feral Pigeon had found a wonderful abundance of leftovers. After walking round the table and inspecting the salad, it settled on chips (as you would), and ate quite a lot of them before a waitress took the plates away.

A Jay in the leaf yard gave me an appraising look, expecting a peanut, which it got.

The male Little Owl came out to the front of his chestnut tree.

One of the owlets was in the shade of the other tree.

Update: Mike Meilack saw and photographed two Common Sandpipers on the dead willow tree in the Long Water next to the Italian Garden.

Monday 27 June 2016

A pair of Moorhens have made in nest in a very strange place, on a coil of rope in a box on one of Bluebird Boats' powerboats.

There are eggs.

The boat people are trying to use the boat as little as possible, but it is impossible not to disturb the sitting bird, and it is doubtful that the nest will succeed.

The Mandarin family at the Vista still has seven ducklings, thanks to the cover of the bushes and the fairly low number of gulls.

The Coots' nest in the netting east of the Lido has just hatched out.

One of the young Grey Herons on the island was making an tentative flight, a short hop from one tree to another.

A Greylag Goose which has just regrown its wing feathers was also experimenting with flight.

The Bar-Headed Goose swam over to the island and climbed ashore. It has probably been spending a lot of time here while it moults, which is why we see it so seldom.

The aggressive Mute Swan on the Serpentine was giving the Black Swan a hard time, following it all over the lake. The Black Swan was too proud to give in and fly away, so this went on for some time.

A young Coal Tit in a yew tree near the bridge was following its parents around calling for food.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was in his usual chestnut tree.

And the female was in the tree just up the hill.

The owlets could be heard, and one flew to another tree, but I couldn't get a picture.

A Red Admiral butterfly was resting on a leaf on the west side of the Long Water.

Sunday 26 June 2016

The female Little Owl was sitting lower in the horse chestnut tree that she likes at the moment. This formerly very shy bird has become quite calm about humans. At one point there were six people taking photographs of her.

The owlets were together in the top of the same tree.

Their father was on his usual branch in the nest tree.

But immediately after I took this picture he was attacked by a Magpie, and fled first into the maple tree near the leaf yard, then right into the yard. He stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.

At the bottom of the nest tree, a Harlequin ladybird larva was walking around a leaf.

A Great Tit looked at it, but didn't seem disposed to eat it. Are they bitter tasting, or does their colouring mimic some other unpalatable species?

A Jackdaw on the grass near Peter Pan had no hesitation in demanding a peanut.

The Black Swan is now soliciting food from everyone who looks likely.

I hope the unnatural diet doesn't harm him. At least the Mute Swans in the park seem to be able to cope with everything they are given without ill effect.

A Mute Swan has been bullying all the other water birds at the west end of the Serpentine. Even the Black Swan gives him a wide berth, though he would not do anything as undignified as retreating. Today he came beyond the Lido and started beating up the Greylag Geese. On the left of this picture, one of Blondie's young is also getting out of his way.

Possibly because of this violence, the two families of Canada Geese (three of whose young may be Greylags) had moved on to the Long Water. The third black and white head is that of their eldest gosling, now quite adult looking. This is the one that was hatched on the tern raft.

The seven Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden pond were in good order, and were climbing around the waterlilies.

There is a family of Goldcrests at the southeast corner of the Dell. This is one of the young ones.

Here is another picture of Common Blue Damselflies mating near the bridge.

At first I thought they had been inspired by the recent Gay Pride demonstration, but it seems that females can be bluish. Certainly the male at the top is much bluer.

These mushrooms were growing next to the path from Queen's Gate and the Physical Energy statue. They are clearly of the genus Boletus or a nearly allied one, but I can't find them on an identification web page. They are shown next to a pound coin, as I didn't have the traditional 50p piece.

Update: Tom found a Mandarin with seven ducklings just out of their nest in a tree hole, and escorted them down the Vista to the Long Water. This is his excellent photograph.

There are not too many Herring Gulls around at the moment, and there is plenty of cover under nearby bushes, so with luck some of them will survive to join the existing young Mandarin, which is also likely to be found at the Vista.