Saturday 31 August 2019

As autumn sets in the small birds are getting hungrier, and a good number of Great Tits and Robins came to take food from my hand.

One of the Robins near the bridge stared impatiently while I took a picture.

The Blackbirds in the Rose Garden are now so accustomed to being given sultanas that they come out of the bushes to meet me. It's surprising how confident these normally shy birds become.

Mistle Thrushes hopped around looking for insects in the grass on Buck Hill ...

... or ate the few berries still on the lower branches of the rowans. They start eating at the top and work down.

A view of the female Kestrel on one of her favourite trees in the middle of the hill, commanding a wide view of possible prey.

Tom got a better picture of the Hobby at Rainham than I managed yesterday.

A young Herring Gull on the Serpentine made a loud fuss about something.

A short way along the shore, a Great Crested Grebe scratched its ear.

The grebes from the east end of the island were looking after their chicks in the water.

This is a very ordinary picture of the hopelessly incompetent pair of Egyptians in their usual place in the Italian Garden -- except for one thing.

The female, the one with the blonde head, is moulting and temporarily unable to fly. Yesterday she was in the lake, six feet lower than the garden and separated from it by a tricky climb up the marble fountain involving a three-foot jump up to its lower bowl. How did she get up? If she had walked round she would have had to go all the way to the Vista and take a long, dangerous walk along the path, exposed to foxes.

It was quite breezy, and a Common Darter dragonfly was having to crouch low on the balustrade to avoid being blown away.

There was a music lesson on the grass in the Rose Garden. I think the instrument is an oud. It's very quiet, and was hard to hear above the general noise in the park.

In Kensington Gardens, a dance for the last day of summer.

Some pictures and video from Friday's visit to Rainham Marshes. It wasn't a great day for birds, but there were plenty of Black-Tailed Godwits. Here one raises its wings, looking larger than it is because the ducks next to it are Teal, which are quite little.

And here are two poking around in the mud.

There was also a Green Sandpiper, a long way off, and not prepared to come nearer, so this still picture ...

... and this video are the best I could get.

A Little Grebe lurked at the water's edge, and never left the spot. I thought it was nesting, but the photograph shows no sign of a nest so maybe it was just digesting a heavy meal.

The best picture of a raptor is of a Kestrel that hovered obligingly.

A Hobby stayed at a distance ...

... and a young male Marsh Harrier was hunting across the marsh, staying so low that it could only occasionally be seen with a background of sky.

It was a better day for insects, with a good view of a beautiful male Migrant Hawker dragonfly ...

... and a female Common Darter.

Butterflies included a Painted Lady ...

... and a Comma.

There were two spiders, a spectacular Wasp Spider ...

... and a Garden Spider busily wrapping up a packed lunch.

Friday 30 August 2019

Just time for a quick walk round the park this morning, as in the afternoon I am off to Rainham Marshes for the last late evening opening of the year. I hope to have some more pictures and video for you tonight.

There were lots of Mistle Thrushes on Buck Hill, eating the remaining fruit on the rowan trees ...

... and wandering around in the grass looking for insects and worms.

A Feral Pigeon enjoyed a sunny interval.

They like to gather for a communal bath on the fallen kerbstones in front of the statue of Peter Pan.

There are still some House Martins over the lake.

The younger Great Crested Grebe family on the Long Water were in a group near the bridge.

The chicks are remarkably quiet, probably because there are so many small fish in the lake at the moment that they are being fed all they can eat.

One of the older chicks was fishing by itself at the Vista.

It was also feeding time for the family from the east end of the island.

Ahmet got a fine picture of a Cormorant eating a perch.

The young Mute Swan on the Serpentine stretched a wing now equipped with brand new flight feathers.

I haven't seen it trying to fly yet. They have to learn how to balance, and sometimes crash ignominiously into the water.

Blondie the Egyptian Goose was drinking at the east end of the Serpentine. She seldom strays more than 200 yards from the reed bed where she was hatched, immediately noticeable as a very pale little gosling. She once flew to the Round Pond, disliked it, and came back to her familiar place.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was choosing his breakfast a few yards away. The lost feathers on his face, possibly caused by an encounter with a crayfish, have been replaced and he is looking as smart as ever.

Thursday 29 August 2019

The teenage Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water are learning to fly, always a bit of a problem for these birds and involving a long takeoff run before they can get airborne. After a practice run they congratulated each other on their progress.

The three chicks at the east end of the island were in the water as they were transferred from one parent to another.

They were soon back up on the other parent's back and being fed.

The youngest of the three is so tiny that even the little ripples on the lake seem like Atlantic rollers to it.

Thanks to the people at Bluebird Boats for taking me out to see them.

The Moorhens in the Dell have had a difficult year, with their nests constantly being destroyed, in one case by a Mallard squatting on it. But finally, at the end of August, they have managed to produce three chicks.

The Moorhens in the willow near the bridge also have at least one new chick. The nest is in a hole in the tree, invisible from the ground, and is used every year.

Only a couple of weeks ago the new chick in the Italian Garden was a little black ball of fluff with ridiculously large feet like the one above. Now it's medium sized. It was inside one of the planters, and must have climbed up the net to get in, something that Moorhens can do at an early age.

A pair of Gadwalls cruised past Peter Pan.

A Cormorant near the bridge, in a place teeming with fish, was washing when it saw one, promptly ate it, and went on washing.

Two Herons fought about a place on a post. There was a perfectly good unoccupied post nest to it.

A young Lesser Black-Backed Gull amused itself by throwing a twig about.

The familiar female Kestrel perched on a tree on Buck Hill and looked around keenly for any sign of prey.

A Coal Tit in the shrubbery in the Rose Garden picked at a sunflower seed it had got out of the feeder.

A young Blue Tit was just getting blue feathers on its head to replace the juvenile grey ones.

To complete the set, a Great Tit near the bridge waiting to be fed.

A Common Darter dragonfly used a stone ledge in the Italian Garden as a base from which to fly out and catch passing midges.

When the molluscs whose shells are preserved in the Portland limestone were alive 150 million years ago, there had already been dragonflies on earth for 175 million years.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

A welcome return from the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial. While I was searching for them in the usual oak trees I heard one calling a hundred yards away towards Queen's Gate, and found the female looking down from a horse chestnut tree.

She called continuously till I saw her. It seemed almost as if she had been annoyed by the lack of attention and wanted to show me her new place.

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were busy today, with Mistle Thrushes ...

... Blackbirds ...

... Starlings ...

... and Magpies all eating the fruit.

At this rate it will all be gone in a week.

One of the hornbeam trees savaged by Rose-Ringed Parakeets had bravely flowered again and was getting the same destructive treatment, with severed flowers littering the ground below.

A Robin in the bushes near the bridge came out of the shadows to be fed.

The Grey Heron that lives in the Dell wandered around the small waterfall in its patient search for fish. Visitors tend to think it's an artificial ornament until it suddenly moves.

The pale Greylag Goose dozed in the sunshine on the edge of the Serpentine.

Greylags ate willow leaves. These are the only trees whose leaves seem to be palatable to waterfowl.

A Cormorant also picked up a willow twig for no apparent reason and carried it for a few yards before dropping it.

A pair of Red-Crested Pochards rested and preened at Peter Pan.

The younger of the two Great Crested Grebe families came up to the bridge, allowing a view from above. The chicks were getting plenty of fish.

The older chick from the west end of the island, not seen for some days, was resting a few yards from the nest while the rest of the family were out on the lake.

Virginia sent some lovely pictures of the family at the other end of the island, taken yesterday in the warm evening light. A parent brought a fish that must have been too large for the chicks ...

... and one of the chicks climbed down and had a little swim around.