Wednesday 31 July 2019

On a very uneventful day, the best news is that the two Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden fountain, not seen for a couple of days, have reappeared and were being fed by their parents.

There was one chick at the Vista ..

... but the biggest brood, and the one with the best chance of survival, is at Bluebird Boats. When danger threatens, in this case a violent little boy, they can run under the platform.

A side view, looking through the bridge, of the Great Crested Grebes' nest under the willow.

The Tufted Duck on the Serpentine is now sadly down to her last duckling. She was looking after it carefully, but it's very small and in a dangerous place.

However, the two Mallard families on the Long Water continue to prosper, and both of them turned up at Peter Pan at different times.

The two Mallard ducklings on the Serpentine were still there, but there were too many people saying 'Aren't they cute' in front of them for me to get a picture.

A pair of Mandarins were chewing algae off the posts at the Vista. The male, now completely in eclipse but recognisable by his pink bill, is on the right.

The two Bar-Headed x Greylag Goose hybrids which came up from St James's Park to the Serpentine to moult can now fly again, but are staying here for the time being.

After a grey and slightly drizzly morning the weather improved and the male Little Owl near the Albert Memorial emerged on his usual oak tree.

The Reed Warbler family near the Diana Memorial were bustling around. I think there are two young ones.

The familiar Coal Tit near the bridge who comes to my hand has regrown the feathers on her head and is looking smart again.

The female Great Tit on the other side of the Long Water has also recovered from the tattiness caused by raising young.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee worked its way over a thistle.

This is the view over the Vista towards Kensington Palace in the mid-18th century. You are standing just where the Henry Moore sculpture is now. It would have horrified the elegant people strolling about. The Queen's Temple is visible at the left.

Both the lake and the temple were completed in the early 1730s. Kensington Gardens remained the private garden of the palace, but visitors were allowed in on Sunday afternoons if they were respectably dressed. As far as I know, it was possible to go down to the edge of the water here until 1922, when the east side of the Long Water was railed off as a bird sanctuary.

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Yesterday there was a picture of the damage that Rose-Ringed Parakeets did to a hornbeam tree. Today I caught them in the act near the Buck Hill shelter, cutting off flowers ...

... and taking them to the railings, where they briefly chewed them and then dropped them before going back for another flower.

On a grey day of intermittent drizzle with little happening, it was pleasing to get another shot of a young Reed Warbler in the reed bed at the Diana fountain. A parent had just whizzed across the path to look for insects in the adjacent flower bed, and the young bird was waiting for it to come back.

There was no sign of a Little Owl in the usual oak tree, and I was about to give up when there was a call from the next tree, the one where the pair originally nested. This is the male owl.

A Grey Heron stood on the railings of the Lido swimming area, hoping to see a fish in the shallow water.

A young Black-Headed Gull at Peter Pan turned downwind and got its feathers ruffled.

The usual Mallard with five ducklings was here. They are now strapping teenagers.

There are four new Mallard ducklings at the island.

The dark Mallard brothers ignored the rain. They must be going into eclipse, but don't look any different.

These are some of the young Greylag Geese which have appeared on the Serpentine, both hatched here and flown in from elsewhere. They have yellower bills and feet than adults, no white line along the bottom edge of their folded wings, and a slightly softer general look.

The number of recently arrived Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine has gone up to nine: seven adults and two teenagers. They are still all staying together in a loose cluster, as grebes do when they have just flown in and not started establishing territories. I managed to get seven of them into this picture.

The chick at the island was going around with one parent, while the other sat on the nest.

These Coot chicks under the marble fountain in the Italian Garden were first seen on 1 July, so they are about a month old. Their parents are no longer feeding them, but the family stays together.

The nest at the Serpentine outflow, the fifth to be built her this year, had been unoccupied for a couple of days but is now back in service.

The nest at the Dell restuarant, still in use although the chicks are almost grown up, was decorated with a pair of sunglasses.

The new Moorhen family in the Italian Garden was nowhere to be seen, but an adult and a chick were eating duckweed in the lake below. They are probably the same ones. They were having to share a pool with a pair of belligerent Coots, a good reason for leaving.

The Moorhens in the hawthorn at the Dell restaurant must be nesting again. One stood on a table holding a larva before flying up into the tree.

Monday 29 July 2019

There is a new family of Tufted Ducks on the Serpentine, but there are only two ducklings.

From the moment they are hatched they can dive with great speed.

It was changeover time on the Great Crested Grebes' nest under the willow.

There are two pairs of Coots in the Italian Garden fountains. One pair, as we have seen, are busy nesting ...

... but the others are just sitting about in a patch of water lilies, in a very un-Cootlike way.

On the kerb of the pool a young Moorhen stretched its wings.

A Moorhen on the edge of the Serpentine had found a clump of plants to sit in.

The young Grey Heron in the Dell took off with one flap of its enormous wings.

There is a family of Reed Warblers in the reed bed by the Diana memorial fountain. One of the young ones was preening, just visible through the reeds.

It came out at the front for a moment.

One of the familiar Jays that comes to my hand is looking tatty.

Probably it has been feeding young, which is hard on the feathers -- though Carrion Crows seen to come through looking immaculate.

This is what Rose-Ringed Parakeets do to trees. A flock has descended on a small hornbeam and torn off every one of its green flowers.

A female Common Darter dragonfly perched on the spiked railings beside the Long Water.

A patch of purple loosestrife attracted Buff-Tailed and Common Carder Bumblebees and Honeybees. They didn't spend long on each of the small flowers.

Ahmet Amerikali was in Southwark Park photographing the Little Grebes' second nest, which is harder to see than the first one. The first egg has hatched, and one of them was disposing of the eggshell.

You can just see the newly hatched chick in the middle of this picture.

Sunday 28 July 2019

This is the familiar pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

I saw him dive into the shallow water at the edge of the Serpentine and started filming as he brought a crayfish ashore. It took him just over a minute to dismantle it. The feathers on his face are now looking a bit tattered, possibly as a result of earlier encounters with crayfish, whose numbers have only recently bounced back after a mass die-off a couple of years ago. By the way, it's a Turkish crayfish, an invasive species. There have also been American Signal crayfish in the lake, but these have not yet recovered.

The crayfish was only an hors d'oeuvre for his main course of a pigeon, which he caught only five minutes later, and when I got to his usual territory near the Dell restaurant he was already eating it.

As for the dessert course, I have already seen gulls eating ice cream here, and it must be only a matter of time before they get the idea of snatching it out of cones in people's hands, as they are already doing in some places.

The Great Crested Grebe chick at the island is still being fed, although its parents are now nesting again. We are worried about what will happen when the eggs hatch. It is far from old enough to fish for itself.

The two chicks on the Long Water are keeping their parents busy enough not to think about nesting again.

The nest under the willow near the bridge is still a going concern. There will be very good views of the chicks when the eggs hatch.

A Coot nest under a bush at the edge of the Vista has produced one chick. There are probably more to come.

The two Mallard ducklings were at Peter Pan with their mother.

I didn't see the family of five. Their mother keeps them well hidden most of the time.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was in a place that was very hard to see, and I had to wait for the wind to blow the leaves aside before I could snatch a hasty shot. This is the female.

A Grey Wagtail appeared briefly on the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall, then flew away and I could hear it calling as it left the park, heading south.

Probably the reason why we see them so seldom is that they simply aren't here. A flight through the gap between the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the flats pompously named 'Number One Hyde Park' takes them straight down Sloane Street and Lower Sloane Street to Chelsea Bridge, where there is a small colony of Grey Wagtails around the old coal wharf.

Two Blackbirds in the Rose Garden are now coming to be given sultanas. They must be a pair, as otherwise they would be fighting.

A young Blackbird perched in one of the rowan trees on Buck Hill but didn't seem very interested in the fruit, which is still unripe and hard.

But some bird has been eating it, as you can see. Rose-Ringed Parakeets and Wood Pigeons are much less fussy about the ripeness of fruit.

A Wood Pigeon balanced precariously on a twig while trying to eat elderberries on another twig. It just managed not to fall out of the bush, which Wood Pigeons often do.

The first bird I heard and saw this morning was a Greenfinch high up on a television aerial. They are making a welcome return after being badly hit by a respiratory disease.

Two Buff-Tailed Bumblebees landed on opposite sides of an eryngium flower in the Rose Garden.