Tuesday 31 July 2018

Yet another Tufted Duck family has appeared on the Serpentine, with thirteen ducklings.

Here they are at the island. That makes six families in the park.

Another brood of seven slightly larger Tufted ducklings were busy collecting food from the bottom of the lake.

Young Egyptian Geese tend to sprawl rather than sit neatly. These two are stretching their newly developed wings.

Probably they are already flying. Jorgen reported having seen the family of Canadas with 15 goslings (including an accidentally adopted Greylag) all flying together, including the youngest Canada (another adoption) which you would not have thought was ready yet.

This family of Mute Swans has edged under the bridge into the territory of the dominant pair who keep the Long Water for themselves. The bank next to the bridge is a sheltered place where the dominant male can't easily attack them.

We haven't had a picture for a while of the two Great Crested Grebe chicks at the reed bed at the north end of the Long Water. Altogther there are eleven chicks on both lakes.

A young Moorhen at Peter Pan is developing the red and yellow bill and the yellow-green legs of an adult.

The young Grey Herons on the island are also growing up fast. One stretched its wings, showing well grown primaries still mostly enclosed in their wrappings.

The female Kestrel was hunting on Buck Hill. I didn't see the male.

No day is complete without a sight of a Little Owl at the leaf yard.

Usually the songbirds fall silent at the end of June, but this Blackbird is still singing a month later. He is the mate of the white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden. You can hear the fountains in the background.

One of the pair of Coal Tits at the bridge came down to take a pine nut.

Some Long-Tailed Tits were hunting insects in trees near the Queen's Temple.

This is as close as I could get the camera to a male Red-Tailed Bumblebee as he busied himself drinking nectar from the many florets on a sunflower. The flower was moving gently in the breeze.

Monday 30 July 2018

A pair of Kestrels were hunting mice on Buck Hill. This is the female hovering ...

... and perched in a tree.

The male Little Owl at the leaf yard was back in his usual place after several days' absence.

The Grey Heron chicks at the island were clacking and bouncing about in their nest.

A Cormorant washed in the water below.

One of the two teenage Moorhens in the Italian Garden fountains was washing with equal vigour.

One of the Coots at the Serpentine outflow was extending their large nest to the side, and making it comfortable with leaves. Their chick at the bottom of the weir could be heard calling, and they went down occasionally to feed it.

The Great Crested Grebes with three chicks were near the bridge, from which this picture was taken.

The family from the fallen poplar in the Long Water were staying close in to the branches. The parents are working hard to feed the four chicks.

The Tufted Duck with the newest family is down to ten ducklings, but that's still a very good number. They were diving like mad at the island.

The family with six were also here. The ducklings are getting quite large.

The sunflower near the bridge attracted a hoverfly, Myathropa florea.

A wasp constantly landed on the duckweed in one of the Italian Garden fountains. The picture shows two very small insects, which it was evidently catching and eating.

Something mysterious was happening on the landing stage at the Diana fountain.

There is excitement about a Marsh Sandpiper at Rainham Marshes, a rare vagrant from Russia. Tom got a distant photograph of it.

He also sent me a picture of an Emperor Moth caterpillar looking like an infant Dalek.

Sunday 29 July 2018

The Mallard family with two blond ducklings is still amazingly intact. Here they are near the island.

So is another family with six ducklings of about the same age.

For some reason, after years of the local Herring Gulls eating practically all the ducklings, we are seeing a reasonable survival rate. That is in spite of the fact that there are up to 100 Herring Gulls on the lake on some days.

The Tufted Duck on the Long Water with six ducklings was back on the Coots' nest under the willow.

This is the latest and largest of the five Tufted Duck families, seen here at the island. It was almost impossible to count the ducklings, but I think all eleven were still here, although the largest number visible at any time in this clip is ten.

But Blondie the Egyptian Goose, who is an attentive mother, has lost two broods this year. She was by herself near the Dell restaurant.

The Great Crested Grebe family near the bridge could be heard from hundreds of yards away.

One of the chicks preened its shining white belly.

Four Moorhen chicks followed their parent through the thick duckweed in the Italian Garden fountain pool. A fifth chick was out of the picture with the other parent.

The Coot nest on the raft in the Long Water is still going. The net that was supposed to stop birds from nesting on the raft has actually made it possible for the Coot to succeed here. With no net, any chicks would have been trapped inside the plastic fence.

The two young Grey Herons could be seen in the nest on the island. The one on the left is sitting on its haunches with its feet up in the air, an odd posture that had me worried for a bit, but I think it's OK. As with other perching birds, the toes clench automatically when it bends its legs.

A dead Feral Pigeon picked clean on the shore of the Serpentine showed that the notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull had had his breakfast. When I passed the Dell restaurant, it was clear that he was already thinking about lunch.

It was a drizzly morning. The Rose-Ringed Parakeets were waiting at the leaf yard for someone to come and feed them, but no one came.

A Robin waited in a bush for me to feed it, the first I've seen for a while. Things are getting back to normal after the long hot dry spell.

The ground has been softened by rain, and the Blackbirds are out again looking for worms. The dry weather has made a lot of leaves fall off the trees, giving a prematurely autumnal look.

Saturday 28 July 2018

In late summer the songbirds have fallen silent and are lurking in the bushes, and you don't see much of them. So it was good to come across a Wren beside the Long Water.

It was a windy day, so there was no sign of the Little Owl at the leaf yard. He goesn't like getting his feathers ruffled.

The Grey Heron chicks in the nest were preening. It seems to be a universal rule with young birds that when they see the parent preening they preen too.

The chicks shared a fish. I still haven't got a picture of a fish being brought by a parent. Since the chicks can peck apart and share a large fish, they don't need feeding very often.

The two teenage herons were on either side of the path at the east end of the Serpentine. One looked as if it was picking blackberries, though in fact it was waiting for a fish to come out of the reed bed.

The other stood motionless on a rock at the top of the waterfall. Visitors often think they're plastic ornaments.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge were clamouring noisily to be fed.

At the island, one of the parents shook the chicks off while the other waited to let them climb aboard.

A Coot family on the Long Water ate both the thick growth of duckweed and any small creatures they found in it.

The six new Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden fountain wandered among the water lily leaves. The heavier teenager had a harder time getting around in the clump.

The teenager carefully explored a flower, looking for insects.

The six Tufted ducklings at the bridge are growing noticeably larger. They are as frantically active as ever.

The Coot nest that was occupied by this family yesterday had an Egyptian Goose on it today. The Coots won't be able to reclaim it any time soon.

The undersized Egyptian gosling was with its larger siblings, or perhaps step-siblings. Last year there was another very small gosling and I thought it had been adopted, but in fact it stayed small and grew into a very undersized adult. I last saw it a couple of months ago, looking perfectly healthy.

This sunflower near the bridge is an accidental arrival caused by people feeding the small birds with sunflower seeds. It has attracted two different kinds of bumblebee. A sunflower is a composite flower, with hundreds of little nectar-bearing flowers forming its centre, and it takes the bees some time to work their way over it.

Here is a close-up of the same bees.

Friday 27 July 2018

The mother of the six Tufted ducklings on the Serpentine attacked a young Herring Gull that had got too close. Thanks to Virginia for this dramatic picture.

Virginia reports that a Grey Heron has eaten a Tufted duckling. By process of elimination it must be the from the first family on the Serpentine, whose five ducklings are now reduced to four. The family of six are all right, and so are the new family of eleven, seen here threading their way through some heavy traffic at the island. It's lucky that the ducklings can dive instantly to avoid being run over.

She also sent this remarkable shot of the Tufted Duck with seven ducklings on the Long Water, which had taken over the Coots' nest under the willow next to the bridge. The Coots were taken by surprise and retreated. I'm sure that if they had offered resistance she would have pulverised them.

The grass in the goose grazing area on the south side of the Serpentine is parched and eaten down right to the soil. A family of Greylags found some better grass and a bit of shade under a bush.

Since I came home there has been a thunderstorm and some rain has fallen, but not the drenching we need.

A Greylag was trying to eat some very stale Arab flatbread.

The Egyptian Geese seem happy to eat duckweed. This is the senior female on the Long Water, who has been here for 15 years -- and, as regular readers will know, has never managed to raise a single gosling during this time. She is instantly recognisable by her very pale white head.

One of the Great Crested Grebes from the net in the fallen poplar on the Long Water can still just get all four rapidly growing chicks on his back.

A fish brought by their mother went down quickly.

One of the Moorhens in the Italian Garden pond was making a second nest for the chicks, something that Moorhens quite often do. The chicks, of which there are six, were still hidden in their original nest in a clump of purple loosestrife.

The Grey Heron chicks in the nest on the island are also growing at a surprising rate.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden hadn't been seen for some time, but today she came out to get some sultanas. She will be delighted by the recent rain, which will make earthworms available again.

A Jay waiting in an oak tree to be given a peanut put its crest up, giving it a turbaned look.

At the bottom left of this picture you can see a deformed acorn, the result of infestation by the Knopper Gall wasp, Andricus quercuscalicis.

A view of the male Little Owl in his usual chestnut tree next to the leaf yard.

A Wood Pigeon cooled off by standing at the top of the waterfall in the Dell. It wasn't washing or drinking, just enjoying the sensation of the water running over its feet.

I went to the Leg o' Mutton reservoir to see the young Common Terns. They were both reported safe and sound the day before yesterday. I only saw one today, but they can fly now so the other one was probably away somewhere. They still depend on their parents to feed them. A tern's fishing technique -- flying at a height of 30ft and dropping vertically on to a fish -- has to be learnt.

Also at the reservoir, two juvenile Black-Headed Gulls perched on a raft. We don't see them this young in the park, since they don't come in from their breeding grounds until they're a bit older.