Thursday 31 May 2018

Yesterday evening Charlie Farrell saw a pair of Black-Necked Grebes on the Long Water just south of the gravel island, and got this distant but clear video from the other side of the lake.

This isn't the first time that Black-Necked Grebes have been seen in the park, but they are very rare visitors indeed. Tom, Barry and I looked carefully for them this morning, but without success. They may have just been passing through.

A Coot was trying to reclaim the nest at the island which the Great Crested Grebes stole from it.

But it left without a fight when it saw the grebes and their chicks arriving. The parents got on to the nest and mated as if to show it who was boss. They are still feeding their two chicks from an earlier brood on this nest.

A Coots' nest at the island, built in the gap between two floating baskets of water plants, now has chicks in it.

The five Coot chicks in the nest under the Dell restaurant are now very active. So far the overhanging balcony has protected them from gull attacks.

I thought there were two families of Mute Swans on the Serpentine, each with four cygnets.

But there's another one with five.

With the pair on the Long Water, also with four young, the total of cygnets is now 17.

Several families of Greylag Geese have moved to the north side of the Serpentine. The grass is longer here, and there is plenty for their many hungry goslings.

A female Blackbird enjoyed a leisurely bathe in the little pool at the top of the waterfall in the Dell.

A Starling at the Round Pond collected insects to take to its nestlings.

The female Little Owl at the leaf yard was at the top of the chestnut tree.

There were a lot of these on a tree near the Round Pond. I think they're the caterpillars of the Jersey Tiger Moth.

Several Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonflies were hunting behind the Lido.  This is a male. You can see him breathing by expanding and contracting his abdomen.

In this species the females are more ornamental than the males.

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Both the Little Owls at the leaf yard were out of their nest hole. The female was on a branch above it ...

... and the male was in the next tree.

There was no sound of owlets, but it's too early to be sure there aren't any. I haven't heard anything near the nesting places of the two other pairs of Little Owls either.

Another gas lamp beside the Serpentine has a Blue Tit nest in the cast iron post. You can hear the nestlings calling while the parents bustle in and out to feed them.

A young Starling followed its parents around at the Lido restaurant. It's the same bird in each of the three shots.

Earlier this year a pair of Great Crested Grebes began a nest in the reed bed on the east side of the Long Water, but abandoned it. Now they've started again, with a better chance of success as there are now some small fish to feed the chicks.

One of the grebe chicks at the island was given a perch. This had to be turned round to be offered head first, because its spiny dorsal fin made it hard to swallow.

The Coot chicks under the balcony of the Dell restaurant are now swimming around. There are only five, and it looks as if the remaining eggs are infertile.

There's just one chick left in the nest perilously sited on top of the weir at the lake outflow. But at least the parents have tastefully ornamented their nest with flowers.

The Coots on the solar cell platform at the Round Pond still have their two chicks, protected by the bank of cells overhead. There were no gulls on the pond today.

This was also good news for the Egyptian Geese. They pair with the younger brood still have seven goslings.

An Egyptian Goose beside the Serpentine kept between her goslings and a hungry Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

The gull was also eyeing some Coot chick on the far side of it. While waiting for a chance, it had a wash.

The number of Canada goslings on the Serpentine is now up to 30. Here are the newest three.

The Greylag Goose families on the Serpentine came ashore to graze.

An unknown goose reported on the Round Pond turned out to be the Bar-Headed Goose from St James's Park, which had moved up from the Serpentine.

The older brood of four Mute Swan cygnets on the Serpentine were in open water under the watchful eye of their mother. The younger ones were preening on the island.

The female swan on the Long Water saw off a Grey Heron that had got too near her four cygnets.

It's very hard to know what is going on in the well hidden herons' nest on the Serpentine island. In this clip you can hear cries of what seems to be fury, and the clacking sound of a young heron begging to be fed. A few seconds later a heron -- young but a teenager rather than a nestling -- can be seen on the lower nest, which the other pair of herons abandoned a while ago after two unsuccessful nesting attempts.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

The dominant pair of Mute Swans on the Long Water have moved their four cygnets up to the gravel strip at the Vista ...

... forcing other swans to the far end. Probably these will soon be chased back under the bridge and the family will have the whole area to themselves.

The older of the two swan families on the Serpentine fed in the shelter of the pedalos at the platform of Bluebird Boats.

The little strip of water between the boat platform and the shore is a quiet place to take a family. But the Egyptian Geese have got as close to the swans as they can without being chased away.

Various goose families can be seen all along the south side of the Serpentine. The Canadas with 15 goslings are in the foreground.

One of the Bar-Headed Geese from St James's Park paid a visit to the Serpentine.

The Mandarin drakes on the Long Water are now well into eclipse, and will look sad and tatty for the rest of the year.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island have not restarted nesting yet, and are still looking after their chicks carefully. Last year this pair abandoned a teenager to make another nest, but it was just old enough to survive on its own. These two are still too young to feed themselves.

The Coots nesting at the outflow of the Serpentine seem to have lost all their five chicks already, swept over the weir. But the grebe here is one of a pair that have never managed to nest at all.

This Coot on the Long Water is also one of a pair that have lost all their chicks. But, undaunted, it is building a new nest.

The Coots under the balcony of the Dell restaurant are still doing well.

The doings of the Grey Herons on the island remain a mystery. I think this pair on the boathouse roof are the ones who nested twice and failed both times. In the other nest, I heard the sound of a chick begging three days ago, so there is still hope.

There are two singing male Reed Warblers in the reed bed below the Diana fountain, and possibly a third one on the other side of the bridge, where I got a glimpse of two flying together. They are almost impossible to capture on video, but you can just see one between the stems here.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual tree.

The rabbits at the Henry Moore sculpture were almost wiped out by myxomatosis and foxes last year, but somehow a few have survived. This is the first one I've seen this year.

Monday 28 May 2018

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard wasn't in his usual chestnut tree. Just as I found him in the next tree up the hill a squirrel rushed up the branch in front of him ...

... and stared cheekily at him. He looked absolutely furious.

A pair of Nuthatches appeared in the leaf yard.

Two pictures taken in the long grass nearby: a Magpie sunbathing ...

... and a Mistle Thrush which had come down to drink from a puddle in the place where a broken drain has caused a flood.

A family of Long-Tailed Tits flew across the path. This is one of the young birds.

A Carrion Crow enjoyed a splashy bath under the spray of the marble fountain in the Italian Garden ...

... and flew up into the dead willow tree to dry itself.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island have managed to rebuild their nest after a fashion, though it is no longer the solid structure they stole from the Coots and is attached to the wire mesh only by a single stick. They mated on it. I do hope this doesn't cause them to abandon their two chicks.

A Coot nesting next to the reed bed near the bridge bit through a reed stem to add it to the nest.

There was a report of a family of Egyptian Geese with two goslings near the Italian Garden. I couldn't find them, but I did find the hopeless pair who lose all their young, who were making a racket on the little island where the Mute Swans nested. Luckily they didn't seem to have any doomed offspring.

The swans were at Peter Pan, eating the water weed which is now covering the Long Water. I think this stringy stuff is plants, not algae.

I was told that there was a new family of Mute Swans with four cygnets on the Serpentine, but could only find three of them swimming around. It was only some time later that I found the fourth one on the shore with its father.

The Mute Swan family usually seen on the south shore of the Serpentine crossed to the sheltered water at the island to get away from the crowds of Bank Holiday visitors in pedalos.

A Gadwall drake preened his wings on the edge of the Serpentine.

Sunday 27 May 2018

The female Little Owl who often sits in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial disappeared several weeks ago, and we hoped she was inside the hole hatching eggs. Today there was a Jackdaw in the hole ...

... and a Stock Dove perched on a branch in front of it.

This may mean that the owlets are now out of the nest. I listened for their hissing begging calls coming from nearby trees, but couldn't hear anything.

Near the tree, a Blackbird gathered insects to feed his nestlings.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden preferred to wait for me to give her some sultanas.

The Blue Tits nesting in the lamp post behind the Lido were hard at work feeding their chicks.

Tom shot this fine slow-motion video of a Jay coming to take food from his hand.

The fence around the old field maple tree next to the leaf yard is now a perch for the local Magpies.

Carrion Crows enjoy landing on the weather vane above the Lido restaurant to make it spin.

The Mute Swan on the Serpentine kept a careful watch over her five cygnets as they ate algae at the edge of the lake.

The swan on the Long Water took her four cygnets to the safety of the little island.

The Canada Geese with 15 goslings bought them ashore to feed, unworried by the throng of Sunday visitors.

The mother saw off a Grey Heron that had come too close.

Greylag and Canada Goose families feed together quite amicably most of the time.

A close-up of the blond Egyptian gosling near the bridge.

One of the Egyptian families on the Serpentine was having a preening session. When the mother preens, the youngsters preen too.

One of the Great Crested Grebe chicks at the island was also copying its parent. The other was asleep.

The Coot nesting under the Dell restaurant parapet was keeping her chicks very close, and I could only see five. There are probably more now.

Saturday 26 May 2018

The Coots in the nest under the balcony of the Dell restaurant have five chicks, with seven eggs left to hatch. The sitting bird was keeping them under her wings when I passed, but Julia got this excellent picture of them yesterday.

The Coots nesting at the outflow of the Serpentine also have five chicks, but it's only a matter of time before they are swept over the weir.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island have managed to patch up their nest to a more or less usable state. Even if they start nesting again, they will look after the chicks, but their attention will be divided and they won't do such a good job.

Female Egyptian Geese tend to call loudly over their goslings. This is a bad idea, as it attracts the attenti0n of predators.

Various familes of Greylag, Canada and Egyptian Geese were spread all along the south shore of the Serpentine.

The Mute Swans on the Long Water have lost one cygnet, and are down to four. Their mother was keeping well in cover at the edge.

The family on the Serpentine still have five. The mother stood up tall and menacing as a dog went past.

A Gadwall on the Serpentine catches midges off the surface of the lake, and even in midair.

You can see a Grey Heron in the upper nest on the Serpentine island if  it stands up in the nest. The sound of at least one chick begging can be heard. I think I've heard two.

One of the GreyWagtails nesting in the Dell could be seen on the rock at the foot of the waterfall.

A Blue Tit paused on the lamp post at the back of the Lido inside which they are nesting.

In the Flower Walk, a Carrion Crow stood over a dead Feral Pigeon. Maybe the crow had killed it, maybe not.

The white-faced female Blackbird who comes to me for sultanas was waiting on the railings of the Italian Garden.

At other times she forages busily in the undergrowth for insects and worms to feed her nestlings.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard was in the chestnut tree.

This kite in the shape of a falcon flies over a houseboat in Chiswick. It's intended to scare away Feral Pigeons. There were plenty of pigeons on the bank and they didn't look bothered.