Sunday 30 April 2017

A Sedge Warbler sang in a patch of scrub at the northwest corner of the bridge, and could just be seen through the stems.

The pair of Coots who built a nest on a submerged branch in the middle of the Long Water last year have started again.

Last year the nest got washed away and was rebuilt. Eggs hatched in the second nest and the chicks were promptly eaten by gulls. But insane persistence is the key to Coots' success.

There is at least one cygnet in the Mute Swans' nest on the little island in the Long Water. I visited the nest several times and waited for the swan to stand up so I could see, but she stubbornly stayed down. So this is a picture of nothing happening.

At least waiting here made the nearby pair of Robins happy. They came alternately, collected all the pine nuts they could carry, and took them back to their nest.

Ther were more abandoned swan eggs on the Long Water, this time on the gravel spit at the Vista.

Evidently this is due to the shortage of nest sites: the swans mate but have nowhere to lay their eggs. It seems a shame, but it limits the growth of the swan population, which has been steadily rising over the past decade.

The number of Egyptian geese has actually fallen over the past year, just when it looked as if numbers were going to climb out of control. The hopeless couple on the Long Water have contributed to this fall by never successfully rearing a single gosling. They are down to their last one of the newest brood. The mother preened on a post at Peter Pan ...

... allowing the poor little creature to wander all over the place under the eyes of several hungry Herring Gulls.

The small population of Red Crested Pochards did manage to get two ducklings through a few years ago. The ducklings are remarkable in being completely unpatterned, small images of this elegant cappuccino-coloured female.

The three young Grey Herons were visible in the nest on the island.

More herons were fighting near the Queen's Temple.

On the other side of the temple, two girls were similarly engaged. This seems to be a Western style of two-sword fighting, not the better known Japanese variety.

The pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull was hunting in his usual place near the Dell restaurant. He sneaked around behind a pigeon ...

... and lunged at it, but without success this time.

The pair of Grey Wagtails chased each other over the Serpentine, and one of them landed on the jetty at the Lido.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard came out of his hole from time to time, but on  a busy Sunday there were too many people rushing about and he didn't feel calm enough to come out on a branch.

Saturday 29 April 2017

One of the Grey Herons nesting on the island broke off a twig ...

... flew up to the nest ...

... delivered the twig ...

... and perched above the nest so that it could admire its three young, two of which can be seen in this picture.

In the water below, it was changeover time at the Great Crested Grebes' nest. The eggs should be hatching any time now.

The grebes with the nest near the bridge have still not settled down, and may now wait till midsummer, when there are more small fish to feed the chicks. They were fishing together over the baskets of twigs, which still contain plenty of perch in spite of the efforts of the Cormorants.

Every year Coots nest under the floor of the westernmost of the two small boathouses. It's a good sheltered place and they always raise some chicks successfully. This place can be seen only from the water side, and the photograph comes thanks to the people at Bluebird Boats, who gave me a ride to see it.

A group of Red-Crested Pochards were feeding in one of the Italian Garden ponds, a place I have never seen them before. They are vegetarians. There are submerged plants as well as algae in these ponds.

Blondie's goslings now have most of their adult plumage, apart from their flight feathers which come out last.

The Lido was open for public swimming for the first time today, but it is still quite chilly and there didn't seem to be any takers. But closing the gates has brought peace to the birds, and a Grey Wagtail could be seen under the bushes on the edge of the water, looking from the Lido restaurant terrace.

These bushes belong to the Lido, not to the restaurant, so they have escaped being grubbed up in the ugly redevelopment at the restaurant which has destroyed the habitat of so many birds.

A young Mistle Thrush was calling from a lime tree near the Serpentine Gallery ...

... while its parents were searching on the ground for worms to bring it.

Dunnocks are so unobtrusive that you generally don't notice them, and then they turn up in unexpected places. This one was at the end of one of the pedestrian tunnels under the bridge.

Long-Tailed Tits are much easier to find, because they call incessantly. They are all over the park collecting insects for their nestlings.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was perched on the small branch which is his current favourite place.

Friday 28 April 2017

The Great Crested Grebes who have been trying to dance at the east end of the Serpentine have finally got it right.

It didn't work at first. After the preliminary display one dived to get some weed while the other just sat there. When the first grebe surfaced, the other suddenly woke up and went down to get some weed too, and finally everything was set and they rushed together triumphantly and waved the weed at each other.

There is a new Egyptian Goose family on the Serpentine near the bridge, but they only have two goslings.

The incompetent pair on the Long Water have managed to hold on to their two. Here they are on the rock near the Italian Garden, with a new brood of three Coot chicks on the right.

There is no trace of the Canada goslings reported yesterday. Several people have looked for them. Their disappearance is not surprising considering the unusual number of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Long Water. Six were on the posts at Peter Pan (the bird one from the far end is a Herring Gull) ...

... and another three were washing in the big gulls' bathing place just south of the posts.

The Mallard family were in their usual place in the shelter of the bridge. Seven ducklings are left of the original thirteen.

The Coots' nest near the bridge has grown to an imposing size. Unfortunately one of the eggs has tumbled out of the towering structure, and the Coots can't get it back up the slope.

The Grey Herons' three young could be seen in the nest on the island.

A Grey Wagtail was hunting on a raft at the east end of the Serpentine. The soggy mess left by the Mute Swans nesting last year may look terrible, but it's an excellent place for insects.

A Pied Wagtail was collecting insects over the Round Pond before flying off to its nest somewhere in the Kensington Palace grounds.

A few House Martins were chasing insects high over the pond.

This Long-Tailed Tit was doing the same on the roof of the Lido restaurant. Its little feet don't look strong, but they can exert a mighty grip on a bit of lead flashing.

The Song Thrush often seen on the grass east of the Dell is quite calm as these shy birds go, and just looks at you while you photograph it.

A Carrion Crow stared even more imperiously from Queen Victoria's crown in the Italian Garden.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was on top of the branch where the nest hole is.

Thursday 27 April 2017

The hopeless Egyptian Goose pair on the Long Water, who have never yet raised a single gosling, have had another brood, already reduced to two. Here they are on the rock under the parapet of the Italian Garden.

A pair of Canada Geese have hatched goslings in a tree near the Italian Garden, the big horse chestnut behind the semicircular stone bench on the east side. The young birds jumped down from the tree, which they do confidently when their mother calls, and they are so light and fluffy that they can fall any distance uninjured. They then went into one of the ponds. But this happened before I arrived, and I couldn't find them although I went round the Long Water twice. They must have been well hidden under a bush.

The people at Bluebird Boats kindly took me on a trip to see nests around the island. The star of the show, of course, was the Great Crested Grebe on her nest. Her mate was away, probably watching a recording of a Barcelona match.

There is a Canada Goose nest at the southeast corner of the island ...

... and a Mute Swan nest on the south side.

There is usually another swan nest in the middle of the island, invisible in the bushes. The island is a favoured site because it's safe from foxes.

This is also a view from the boat, of the nest at the Lido which yesterday was comfortably upholstered with leaves from an ornamental plant. It's not foxproof, of course ...

... but this new nest on a raft at the east end of the Serpentine is safe. There are now two nests on these rafts.

Add the nest at the Diana fountain landing stage and the one on the little island in the Long Water, and it looks as if we are going to have a lot of cygnets this year after last year's miserable showing. The good prospect has not improved the mood of the swans, and the dominant male at the east end of the Serpentine was pointlessly beating up the others.

One last picture taken from the boat: the Coot nest in the net around the reed bed east of the Lido. The Coot is looking out through a hole cut for its convenience.

The Mallard at the bridge still has nine ducklings, though the most I could get into one picture was eight. She is keeping them sheltered under the edge of the stone pavement, but hungry Herring Gulls are cruising around.

There were again plenty of Pied Wagtails running around the Serpentine. Here is one searching for insects among the daisies on the south shore.

There are also lots of Robins beside the path on the east side of the Long Water. This is one of a pair that came to my hand again and again, taking three pine nuts at a time and carrying them to their nest in a bramble patch. I fed three other Robins on the path. Thanks to Fran for taking this good picture.

Another Robin sang in a blossoming tree in the Rose Garden.

The flowers here are attracting a crowd of Honeybees.

A Jay in the leaf yard was eagerly expecting to be given a peanut.

The first House Martins have arrived on the lake, only three or four of them so far. They were not yet taking an interest in the nest sites on the cornice of the Kuwaiti embassy. Yesterday there were some Swallows and a single Swift, and there was just one Swallow crossing Kensington Gardens on the 24th.

Update: Des McKenzie saw a Hobby in Hyde Park around noon.

No day would be complete without a view of the Little Owl near the leaf yard. Over five years I have taken well over a thousand pictures of him, and he is resigned to having a camera pointed at him every time he appears.