Saturday 31 March 2018

A Bar-Headed Goose has flown up from St James's Park with a Greylag who seems to be his mate. There is already one Bar-Headed--Greylag hybrid in St James's Park.

He was chased by another Greylag, but restored his pride by chasing a third one before returning to his mate.

A Canada Goose is again nesting on the tern raft in the Long Water, and I think I could see an egg, which appears in several of the pictures I took. There is no way for goslings to get off the raft, and when this happened a couple of years ago the family had to be rescued.

Some Red-Crested Pochards have returned to the Serpentine after several weeks' absence. They fly in from Regent's Park or St James's Park at random, as the mood takes them.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island are hanging on to the Coots' nest they have stolen. One stayed on guard while the other was off fishing, returning with a green Harrods bag to add to the nest.

Coots often nest in silly places, but this is the silliest yet. Virginia took this picture on her smartphone.

A Moorhen seems to be nesting in a patch of irises in the Sunken Garden. It's too early to tell whether it has decided to stay there.

The Moorhen nesting on a rock in the Dell seems to be staying put.

A small flock of Pied Wagtails flew down on to the grass near the small boathouses, where they ran around looking for insects. It's impossible to film the flock together, as they keep their distance from each other when hunting.

The pair of Blackbirds on the south side of the Dell were looking for worms in the muddy verge of the bicycle track.

A Dunnock searched for bugs in the shrubbery next to the bridge.

One of the Nuthatches in the leaf yard came down to my hand several times.

The familiar Blue Tit in the Rose Garden could hardly wait for the feeder to be filled, and was on it in seconds to get a sunflower seed.

A Robin perched on a new wooden fence at Kensington Palace.

When I arrived at the Little Owls' tree near the leaf yard, I just saw the tail of an owl disappearing into the hole as a Magpie landed on the edge.

But a few minutes later, when the Magpie had gone, the female owl came out and perched on the little dead branch above the hole.

Friday 30 March 2018

Two male Little Owls were visible, both very nervous. The one at the leaf yard dashed into his hole as soon as he saw me ...

... and the one in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial only remained on his branch for a couple of seconds as I approached.

In contrast, the female owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture remained perfectly calm. The difficulty in photographing her is that she only looks down for a minute and then goes into a doze.

The Chaffinch in the Rose Garden was hopping around in the flower bed. He clearly wanted to visit the feeder, but it was occupied by Rose-Ringed Parakeets.

A Blue Tit was having no trouble with the nut feeder, as it's hard for parakeets to use this.

Someone had thrown a lot of peanuts on the ground in the Flower Walk, and a Carrion Crow was happily working its way through them.

The white-faced Blackbird waited on a stone crown on the parapet of the Italian Garden.

She flew down and poked around in the grass to find the sultanas I threw to her.

The Song Thrush near the bridge was singing happily from an Italian alder tree in the drizzle.

A prettily marked pale grey Feral Pigeon perched on a drain on the edge of the Serpentine.

The Grey Heron has been back in the nest on the island for five out of the last six days. but I have seen no sign of its mate.

On the basket underneath, the pair of Great Crested Grebes are still claiming the Coots' nest.

The Coot under the balcony of the Dell restaurant was off its nest yesterday, and the insecurely lodged nest was disintegrating in the small waves on the lake. But today it has rebuilt the nest. I don't think it will last. A few hours of a stiff westerly breeze will wash it away.

Another Coot has built a nest in the usual disastrous place at the Serpentine outflow. Any chick that hatches get washed over the weir. Although there is a sloping plank to help them to climb back up -- you can see the top of it here -- they never seem to manage it.

Coots' nesting urge is unstoppable, and you often see them vaguely assembling twigs in completely unsuitable open places on the edge of the lake.

On the Long Water, the female Mute Swan was taking a break from sitting on her eggs, and the male climbed on to the little island to guard them.

Thursday 29 March 2018

There were a lot of swans on the Serpentine today, which had flown down from the Round Pond to see if there was any chance of finding a nest site. The lake has few suitable sites and the Round Pond none, so there is a lot of comeptition and fighting.

A pair on the Serpentine had just mated, and were performing their beautiful post-mating display.

On the Long Water, the swans had broken down a post holding up netting around a reed bed and got into it.

The patch of open water in the reed bed is not the result of destruction by swans. The reeds were planted on an unsuitable base and large areas of them died almost at once.

This is the post that the swans knocked over. It shows how strong they are.

Farther along the same reed bed, a pair of swans had torn the netting off the posts and trampled it underwater, and were making a nest in the reeds.

A Moorhen was making a nest on a rock in the stream in the Dell.

At the bridge, the pair of Great Crested Grebes had temporarily occupied the Coots' nest, while the Coots sulked angrily under the arch. The Coots will get it back, of course.

Two Coots enjoyed a fight on the Serpentine.

Now that all the smaller gulls have left, the posts at Peter Pan present an almost unbroken vista of Herring Gulls, all of them young ones probably from the colony in Paddington. There are just two adult Lesser Black-Backs.

A Jackdaw digging for worms in the Flower Walk brought up a conker, which it discarded. These contain a poisonous substance, aescin, and only a few creatures such as deer, wild boar and grey squirrels can eat them.

The male Chaffinch of the pair in the Rose Garden uttered his single-note 'rain song', quite different from his usual song. It had just been raining, but it's doubtful that this song is a response to rain. In this case I think it meant 'Hurry up and fill the feeder.'

The Robins beside the Long Water don't need to sing to get fed. They just come out and look appealingly at you.

So does the white-faced Blackbird.

A dry spell brought a few people out on to the terrace of the Dell restaurant. The Starlings saw their chance and lined up on the railings to raid the tables.

There were no Little Owls to be seen. A Stock Dove cheekily perched in the female owl's favourite spot on the branch of the oak near the Albert Memorial.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

It rained steadily all morning and drizzle continued into the early afternoon. Rain sends the Little Owls into their holes except for the oddly hardy female near the Henry Moore sculpture, who stood outside her hole getting wet.

A very bedraggled Grey Wagtail looked for insects under a column at the Lido restaurant.

It's a Tuscan column and should have only one volute on its base. But the building was put up in 1930, by which time architects had forgotten about such niceties.

There were Pied Wagtails all over the grass to the east of the Triangle car park and along the north shore of the Serpentine.

Coots assemble on the shore of the Serpentine below the car park because people drive in to feed the waterfowl and can't be bothered to walk farther along the shore. The Coots, intent on one thing, don't fight each other here. There may be as many as a hundred in this place.

Some Mandarin drakes were passing Peter Pan when a Coot launched itself at the leader for no reason.

A Moorhen poked around for scraps of food under a table on the deserted terrace of the Dell restaurant.

Another stood close to a Mute Swan on the little nesting island in the Long Water. This picture was taken from an awkward place through undergrowth in the hope of seeing an egg in the nest, and I think one is just visible.

A Great Crested Grebe's neck is so flexible that it can preen the back of its neck. with its bill.

A Dunnock found a grub in the shrubbery near the bridge.

While I was refilling the feeder in the Rose Garden, a hungry Blue Tit waited inches away and flew to the feeder the moment I let go of it. Then it perched on a twig to eat a sunflower seed.

One of the Rose Garden Robins waited on a rail to be fed. It had stayed dry by sheltering in an evergreen bush.

Song Thrushes like rain because it brings up worms. This one was singing enthusiastically near the bridge.

An earthworm inched slowly over the waterlogged path, more swimming than crawling. No bird noticed it  before it reached cover on the other side.

As a change from the ordinary birds of the soggy park, here are two pictures sent in by Tinúviel, taken by one of her students on a visit to Salamanca. This is an Alpine Accentor, Prunella collaris, a near relative of our Dunnock.

And here is a White-Winged Snowfinch. Montifringilla nivalis.