Tuesday 31 March 2020

The horse chestnuts come into leaf early.

A Blackcap sang on a twig beside the Long Water.

So did a Goldcrest near the bridge, but they move around so quickly that they are almost impossible to film.

A Blue Tit posed grandly in an adjacent yew tree ...

... and there was a Wren on the other side of the path.

A Robin foraged on the ground ...

... and a Greenfinch called from a tree a short way along the path.

A Carrion Crow collected twigs for its nest.

A pair of Jackdaws perched on the posts supporting a sapling.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was out in front of her hole.

If you stand still when a Pied Wagtail is foraging on the shore, it will forget about you and come quite close.

The Grey Heron chicks are growing with amazing speed on a rich diet of regurgitated fish and rats.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull is having a harder time catching Feral Pigeons because there are fewer people in the park dropping scraps to attract them. He was practising his old trick of pretending to be asleep so that an unwary pigeon would come within reach.

The Coots were fighting as usual.

Another Coot had decorated its nest with a paper cup and a Hula Hoops packet.

A pair of Egyptian Geese beside the Serpentine took their new goslings across the deserted horse track to feed on the grass.

Monday 30 March 2020

When Grey Herons get too close to each other, there's a quarrel. Oddly, the young heron with a plain grey head seems to be dominant here, when you'd have expected it to be at the bottom of the pecking order.

There were also some in the Rose Garden, looking out of place against the herbaceous borders. But there are plenty of rats here for them.

A heron caught a fish in the little pool at the top of the Dell waterfall. This pool is not connected with the Serpentine and is artificially filled by a pump in the stream at the foot of the waterfall, so I had supposed that there were no fish in it. I was wrong.

This pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls have been at the north end of the Long Water for a while, often displaying to each other, and it looks as if they're planning to nest. They will probably do this on a flat roof somewhere just outside the park.

The dominant pair of Mute Swans on the Long Water were back together after a week of separation. Maybe these extremely aggressive birds had had a marital dispute.

The male got back to his usual routine of attacking all the other swans.

Mark Williams reported from St James's Park that the four Egyptian goslings are still in good order. Here are two of them.

There is also another brood of four. They have a better chance of survival in St James's Park than here, as there are fewer big gulls.

The Coot which has been trying for months to start a nest on the dead willow tree near the Italian Garden has finally succeeded in getting a few twigs to stay in place. Sheer dogged persistence has paid off.

Another Coot on the edge of the Serpentine laid the first twig in a nest that doesn't have the slightest hope of success.

The female Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was out on a branch. It was a chilly day but at least the wind had dropped, and this pair of owls seem hardier than the others.

A Jay ate a peanut.

A Robin found a small white grub under a tree.

Another bathed in a puddle.

A Goldcrest sang while flitting around in a tree next to the bridge, at the corner by the Magazine.

This is a Treecreeper nest in a horse chestnut tree bear the Serpentine Gallery. The birds have reduced the size of a natural hole by blocking up the bottom with little bits of wood.

Neil pointed out two young trees beside the Serpentine that I hadn't known about. They are cork oaks.

When the tree matures the trunk is covered with thick spongy bark which can be stripped off without killing the tree and used to make corks. Here is a close-up of the bark, still quite thin on the young tree.

Sunday 29 March 2020

The pleasant spring weather is over, and today there was an icy northwest wind with occasional sleet.

You'd think the Grey Heron chicks would be keeping their little heads down. But as usual they were standing up and moving around.

The fallen blossom carried by the wind to the edge of the lake is full of insects, which a Magpie, Moorhen and Pied Wagtail were busily harvesting.

The missing female Mute Swan on the Long Water, not seen for three days,  has turned up looking as if nothing had happened. But she was not with her mate.

Evidently he had been sitting on their nest to keep his territory -- not that he needs to, as he controls the whole of the Long Water. The male swan at the boathouse is doing the same.

The gates of the Lido swimming area have been closed to stop people from swimming there, as part of the general attempt to make everyone as miserable as possible. A pair of swans are taking advantage of the lack of disturbance to nest on the edge. Sadly, the gates won't keep foxes out as there is a big gap under them.

Almost all the wintering Pochards have left, but a few always remain.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water were ignoring the return of winter and having a display. This pair usually nest in the branches of the big fallen poplar at the Vista.

A very brief clip of a Coot trying to mate and ignominiously falling off.

A Moorhen contemplated a solitary bluebell but decided it wasn't edible.

Every year the wildflower bed in the Rose Garden is dug up and replanted. It hardly seems necessary, as the surviving flowers come up by themselves. This is a borage plant on the edge of the cleared area.

The two pairs of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the Rose Garden were chasing and drumming. Here is a female in a treetop.

A Jackdaw stared keenly from an oak tree in the leaf yard.

Two Coal Tits near the bridge came out to be fed.

Saturday 28 March 2020

The Grey Heron chicks are becoming more active by the day. Both were standing up in the nest. A pity that they have to be filmed from 200 yards away.

The heron in the other nest is still a long way from hatching the eggs ...

... but a teenager hatched in December or January, which has flown in from another heronry, shows how slow our lot are to get going.

The heron with the injured leg was in the lush foliage of the Dell, looking as if it had strayed into a Douanier Rousseau painting. It was impossible to see how well it's recovering, but at least it's getting around.

A brisk northeast wind was making choppy waves break on the edge of the Serpentine. A Pied Wagtail was not worried, and just skipped out of the way.

It found a small larva in the fallen blossom washing up along the edge.

A male Blackbird near the bridge was looking smart.

A female Chaffinch perched on a twig, but flew away before I could get round to an angle where there wasn't a twig in front of her.

A Carrion Crow drank from the top of the Dell waterfall, taking a sip and then throwing back its head to swallow the water. All drinking birds do this except pigeons, which seem to be able to use their tongues to create a sort of straw that can suck up water.

One of the Coots nesting on the remains of the swan island in the Long Water shooed away a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

The Coots at the Dell restaurant were attending to their nest, which was sheltered from the wind by the balcony and in quite calm water.

A Coot near the Triangle Car Park was sitting on its haunches like a dog. When it stood up it seemed weak and wobbly on its legs. This also happens to some geese. It's not clear why. The organism that causes botulism is usually present in lakes and birds can tolerate it in small amounts, but it usually only proliferates in warm weather.

The male Mute Swan of the dominant Long Water pair was by himself in the nest again today. I haven't seen his mate for several days, and am worried that a fox may have taken her while she was sitting. This has already happened to an earlier mate of this swan, and it was for that reason that the swan island was built. Now it been allowed to collapse, the old danger has returned.

Joan Chatterley was in Battersea Park, and sent me this interesting picture of an Egyptian Goose family with one pale gosling. This is exactly what Blondie looked like when she was hatched several years ago.

Friday 27 March 2020

It's hard to see what's happening in the Grey Herons' nest on the island, as it has to be viewed from across a lake 200 yards wide. But here you can see one of the two chicks standing up and pecking its parent as a reminder that more food will be needed soon.

This box beside the Long Water is supposed to be for insects to breed in, but a pair of Blue Tits has decided to nest there. Possibly there is an all-you-can-eat buffet inside. A tit hung upside down from the bottom ledge as it brought in a bit of dead grass.

It looks as if the Long-Tailed Tits in the Rose Garden already have eggs and the female is sitting on them. In this close-up shot you can see her tail, slightly disarranged by cramming the feathers into a confined space.

 Several Greenfinches were singing around the Long Water. They like to perch high in the trees, which makes them awkward to photograph.

There was no sign of a Little Owl today, but a Treecreeper was climbing up their oak tree near the Albert Memorial.

When you see birds determinedly pecking at something invisible, you ask yourself what it is. In this case the Carrion Crows were under a blossoming magnolia tree. The large fleshy petals fall off, rot and are eaten by insects, which in turn get eaten by the crows.

A group of pigeons pecked busily at a small area. What was so interesting for them here? No one had put birdseed on the grass. I looked at it and all I could see apart from grass was some small leaves of what looked like a species of cranesbill (shown at the end of the clip). Do pigeons like this? Does it attract insects that they might be eating?

The Egyptian Geese at the Lido are down to their last gosling. They really don't stand a chance against the rapidly increasing population of Herring Gulls.

The hopeless Egyptians who have never raised a gosling in 20 years were on the remains of the swan island in the Long Water.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond was dozing in the sunshine.

A view looking down from the bridge: two Mute Swans on the Serpentine shooed a dog out of their territory.

A Mallard drake shone brilliantly in the sunlight.

The big Coot nest under the balcony of the Lido restaurant is now a going concern.

Cowslips are coming out around the shrubbery near the bridge. The primroses and cowslips here, planted many years ago by a long forgotten gardener, have now spread all over the grass.

Mark Williams took this picture of a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in St James's Park. I haven't seen one yet this year.

Tinúviel sent this remarkable picture taken by her bird guide Jesús Porras near Trujillo in Spain. Ravens harass an Eagle Owl.