Wednesday, 19 February 2020

A Goldcrest ...

... and a Coal Tit appeared in quick succession on the path near Peter Pan.

On the other side, the local Robin was expecting its daily treat of pine nuts put on the gatepost.

A Wood Pigeon ate fresh daisy leaves ...

... and another picked off small leaf buds.

The new turf being laid on the Parade Ground is now encroaching on the Redwings' and Mistle Thrushes' favourite feeding ground of bare earth, but they are still catching plenty of worms. Soon the worms will surface through the turf and the birds will find them easily enough. Last year the Redwings stayed till 15 March, when the ground was completely covered.

There was a view of a Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture.

A Carrion Crow bathed in the Serpentine.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was also washing ...

... then he took off and flew round the lake looking for his lunch.

There was enough wind to encourage a group of Mute Swans into the air. A headwind reduces the effort of hauling themselves into the air.

A pair started making a nest in a thoroughly unsuitable place next to the terrace of the Lido restaurant, a few feet away from a table. There are so few available nest sites on a lake overcrowded with swans that they get desperate.

The usual Grey Heron was sitting in the nest on the south side of the island. But there was activity in the nest next door, with a heron picking twigs to build it up.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits are building a nest in the Rose Garden, well hidden inside a gorse bush.

There was activity in the Grey Herons' nest on the south side of the island, and I got a very distant diagonal shot before the heron settled down again. I think it was only turning the eggs over, and it's still too early for chicks to hatch.

The Redwings on the Parade Ground looked splendid in the morning sunlight ...

... but were outshone by Starlings at the leaf yard. Beautiful as they are, they're a nuisance when you're trying to feed the small birds.

The male Peregrine flew over my head, coming from the pair's other perch in the Edgware Road, and landed on the barracks tower.

A Carrion Crow in the Dell had found a piece of soggy bread at the restaurant ...

... but decided it wasn't soggy enough and dunked it in the pool.

One of the Moorhen pair at the restaurant was climbing in the hawthorn tree. They haven't yet started to make a nest.

Another Moorhen in the Italian Garden amused itself by walking round and round the rail protecting the water plants.

Coots have a different idea of fun.

The Coots' nest at the Dell restaurant, destroyed by the recent storms, is being rebuilt. Really the Coots ought to wait for a few days, as the wind is still quite brisk and the water choppy, but you can't stop Coots.

A Great Crested Grebe poked around in a layer of submerged dead leaves, hoping
to find some small fish lurking among them.

Two male Mute Swans defied each other across the jetty of the Lido swimming area, safely separated so they could avoid an actual fight. One of them had his mate in tow, and was clearly trying to reserve the swimming area for their personal use. A Carrion Crow watched with interest.

The Royal College of Art is next to Kensington Gardens, and you often come across students bringing in their creations to photograph them. This fairy throne made of Perspex proved very popular with the passers by.

Monday, 17 February 2020

This Coot has been trying literally for weeks to make a nest on a branch of the dead willow near the Italian Garden, and still can't get any twigs to stick. But it stubbornly refuses to give up.

The Red Crested Pochard and his Mallard mate left their place in the Italian Garden when the fountains were being repaired, but now they're back in their preferred pool.

The afternoon sunshine brought out the iridescence of a Tufted drake at Peter Pan.

A visit to the Round Pond found the Black Swan badgering visitors for food.

A Great Crested Grebe bobbed up and down in the waves. They are never more than occasional visitors to the pond, which has plenty of fish but is too open to suit them.

A Common Gull stared at the camera.

The weathervane on the clock at the Diana memorial playground is in the shape of a gull. It's pointing the wrong way because the pivot has stuck.

A young Herring Gull on the Serpentine got a great deal of enjoyment from a very simple toy.

There was also a young Grey Heron on the shore. It must have flown in from another park accompanied by an adult to show it the way. Perhaps it comes from Battersea Park, where the herons bred very early and the young are already independent.

On a grey and rather dank morning it was a surprise to see a Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture.

Rose-Ringed Parakeets guarded a hole in a chestnut tree near the Round Pond.

There are still plenty of Redwings on the Parade Ground.

But I still can't find a Fieldfare, although Des McKenzie saw one here several days ago.

A blossoming tree attracted a Wood Pigeon, not interested in admiring it but wanting to eat the flowers.

These flowers must be a tribute to Anthony Soh, a student at Imperial College who disappeared on 22 March 2011 after a night out. His body was discovered on 6 April when it came to the surface in the Serpentine and floated ashore near one of the small boathouses.

Here is a picture from 2011, with offerings of food from his friends to sustain him in the afterlife.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

The promised high winds didn't come, and it was just an ordinary nasty February day. It wasn't raining when I went out, but soon started and became quite heavy.

The Redwings were out in force on the Parade Ground with a few Mistle Thrushes.

When the rain started they began pulling up worms at a great rate.

Unlike most of the Mistle Thrushes in the park at the moment, this one is a resident rather than a migrant. It's one of a pair that nest every year near the Albert Memorial, here photographed on the lawn a few yards from the memorial. It's used to people and you can get much closer to it than to the ones on the Parade Ground.

This Robin in the Rose Garden wouldn't sing for me, but it still looked very decorative against its matching background.

A Grey Heron in a nest on the island shook out its feathers.

Mike Harris sent me this picture which shows how long a heron's tongue is.

It also shows the scaly patches that some herons have on their bills. I don't know whether this is normal or not, but some herons, such as this one fishing under the Italian Garden, have perfectly smooth bills.

A few yards away under the dead willow, the incompetent Coot is still unable to get a nest together.

A Tufted drake wasn't bothered by the rain.

In fact waterfowl find it an aid to preening, as this Gadwall drake was doing at the Lido ...

... along with some Mute Swans and a Pochard.

Swans court by mirroring each other's movements. The ritual can go on for several minutes, and may or may not lead to mating.

To cheer up today's grey pictures, here are two fine photographs by Rudraksha Chodankar of a Great Spotted Woodpecker ...

... and a Green Woodpecker.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

The day started reasonably, and a Robin ...

... and a Great Tit came out as usual near the bridge to be fed.

But Storm Dennis was approaching, and soon the wind rose and it started raining harder and harder. That didn't stop the Redwings chattering cheerfully in the trees on the Parade Ground.

The Peregrines perched indifferently on the barracks tower.

But the Grey Herons came down from the swaying trees and stood on the shore of the island ...

... apart from the one sitting on eggs on the other side, which was hunkered down so that you could only see a trace of grey above the edge of the nest.

A pair of Mute Swans mated on the Round Pond.

However, they have nowhere they could possibly nest. Even on the main lake there are places for a maximum of three nests around the edge of the Serpentine island. The little swan island in the Long Water has now been allowed to disintegrate. Any nests on the shore will be attacked by foxes. This lack of provision is hard on the swans, but on the other hand the swan population has doubled in the past ten years and there is already serious overcrowding.

The dark Mallard brothers passed under the bridge in the rain ...

... and it was business as usual for a pair of Gadwalls on the Serpentine.

A Moorhen at the Dell restaurant suddenly flew up into the hawthorn tree, and it looks as if they are going to nest here again this year.

These nests have never succeeded because the lake is open here and there is little cover for the chicks, while hungry gulls are all around. But there is a patch of overhanging brambles not too far away, and they have a small chance.

The other Moorhen was eating algae in the pond at the top of the Dell waterfall.

When bad weather keeps people out of the Diana fountain it becomes a playground and bathing place for gulls of all species.

A young Herring Gull played with a conker on the edge of the Serpentine.

Although set in a scenic park and fitted with all-round plate glass windows, the Magazine restaurant has no view, just trees and a busy road. The management are trying to cheer up the bleak prospect with a giant screen, on this dark rainy day showing a sunlit redwood forest. From outside, the effect is rather strange.