Thursday 30 April 2020

On the Lido jetty, an adult Pied Wagtail was repeatedly buzzed by one of its two young until it flew off to fetch some more insects.

Mark Williams reports that a pair of Grey Wagtails at Clapton Pond are feeding young ones.

We have at least three Grey Wagtails here, and with luck we should see the same soon.

A Carrion Crow was eating a Feral Pigeon which I think had been killed by a Sparrowhawk that was soon frightened off the kill, because it was more or less complete apart from its head. Crows can eat pigeons more easily than the famous gull because they have strong grasping feet and can hold their meal steady while pecking it.

Another crow was eating rice in the Diana fountain enclosure. But there has been an almost complete cessation of people coming to the park and dumping unsuitable food on the birds.

This is one of the Jays that comes to take peanuts from my hand. It chatters from a tree to get my attention.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had found another large dead fish. Perhaps these fish are dying of exhaustion after spawning.

Young Herring Gulls quarrelled over a bit of food.

The injured Grey Heron in the Dell was looking less miserable than recently, and standing up and flying around.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes displayed at the island.

The single Coot chick on the Long Water was being fed by both its parents at once.

The Coot that was starting a nest in a pedalo yesterday has made rapid progress.

With all the pedalos unused and untended, it seems strange that this Coot has built a futile and unusable nest on the edge of the lake.

The Egyptian Goose with seven goslings was sheltering them from the wind and drizzle.

Sad to say, the single Egyptian gosling on the Long Water is dead. But the older one on the Serpentine is soldiering on.

Duncan Campbell reports that the Egyptians at Marble Arch still have nine goslings, which were happily using the wooden ramp provided for them. This was made by the man who looks after the garden on the traffic island, whose name is Rennie or René.

The Red-Crested Pochard with the Mallard mate was alone again today. Probably she's nesting somewhere. We might see some hybrid ducklings, though she has to survive the attention of the foxes and they have to dodge the gulls.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

There was a young Pied Wagtail on the jetty at the Lido.

Later, when I was walking along the other side of the lake, I found two of them being fed insects at the boat platform.

A Song Thrush poked around in a patch of mud collecting small twigs to add to its nest.

Ko told me that the Mistle Thrush nest on the north edge of Kensington Gardens, which we thought had been predated and abandoned, was active again. I went there and found the two adults rattling angrily from a neighbouring tree ...

... but there was an adult Blackbird standing on the nest. I don't know what's going on here.

Another Blackbird was busy with a worm on the path, and ignored the people going by. Like many birds they aren't worried when you don't seem to be paying attention to them. And if you have a large camera in front of your face they don't see you looking at them.

Long-Tailed Tits are more or less indifferent to humans. This was one of a pair in a tree beside the Long Water.

I haven't seen any activity around the Long-Tailed Tits' nest in the Rose Garden for two days. The nest is looking a bit saggy and out of shape, but it hasn't been torn open as it would be if it had been attacked by a predator.

Update: Sad news. This evening the nest was found wrecked, apparently by a rat.

The three Reed Warblers near the Diana fountain were singing loudly at each other.

The pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Long Water called to each other over the head of a third gull which they clearly considered an intruder. It flew away.

The lone Egyptian gosling on the Serpentine was by itself, looking anxiously at its parents which were some distance away on the other side of the road.

The father looked back at it, but the mother was unconcernedly grazing in the background. They are very vague parents.

The trouble with giving birdseed to the seven Egyptian goslings on the other side of the lake is that a mob of Feral Pigeons arrives in seconds and crowds them out. You can see that the goslings are quite used to this.

Two Greylag Geese were on a pedalo, looking as if they might be thinking of nesting there.

A Coot had already had that idea.

Another Coot has made at nest at the Serpentine outflow. Because the fountains in the Italian Garden have been turned off as part of the official misery scheme, no water is flowing out of the Serpentine and its level has dropped a couple of inches. But when (if ever) the fountains are turned on again, it will be at the top of a weir.

There is one egg in the nest.

A Tufted drake trotted busily along the path, ignoring the runners lumbering by inches away.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

It was a nasty cold wet dark day. Two Egyptian Geese drank from a puddle.

The lone gosling on the Serpentine was preening. It has been an only child for at least ten days, and its parents are looking after it as carefully as an Egyptian Goose can (which isn't very, as they are scatterbrained birds).

The goslings of true geese follow their mother closely. But Egyptian Geese are more like big ducks than geese -- as you can see from the colours of their young -- and their goslings wander about, so their mother has to follow them.

A picture from yesterday by Duncan Campbell of the Egyptian family that has taken up residence in the pool at Marble Arch, next to the bronze elephants. Someone has kindly provided them with a wooden ramp so that the goslings can get out of the pool.

The near side of the pool is the former site of the Tyburn Tree, a large triangular gallows where 24 people could be hanged at once, eight to a side. Here is William Hogarth's engraving of an execution, from his series Industry and Idleness.

Five Mute Swans flew past the Serpentine island ...

... and three ate willow leaves.

The unused swan nest on the Long Water was occupied by the lone Coot chick.

On the other side of the lake, the incompetent Coot has managed to make a flimsy nest of twigs and reeds, but the first rough weather will wash it away.

A Moorhen's feathers were disarranged by a tailwind as it foraged at the edge of the lake.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate had an affectionate display.

Later he found a dead fish and started to eat it, watched by an envious Magpie ...

... until both were frightened off by the arrival of a teenage Grey Heron. This is the one that attacks the adult herons. The young one hatched here is still in the nest.

There were Swifts flying over the lake, too high for a picture in these conditions. Some House Martins have arrived too, and I managed to snatch a mediocre picture of two.

A pair of Pied Wagtails ran around near the small boathouses, calling to each other.

A Song Thrush ...

... and a Greenfinch perched beside the Long Water.

A bit of colour on a drab day: the first yellow iris has come out in the Italian Garden.

Monday 27 April 2020

This Mute Swan had been driven off the Long Water by the dominant male Swan and was wandering around Buck Hill, unable to get back into the water because there are railings all along this side of the lake.

When I arrived, Tracy the policewoman had already called Hugh the wildlife officer. With us keeping the swan penned in, Hugh deftly caught it and put it into his special swan straitjacket, then drove it to the Serpentine to release it in safer surroundings. I couldn't film the first moments because I was too busy herding the swan and throwing Hugh the jacket.

Both the dominant pair were chasing other swans, and seemed in a very bad temper. They have been neglecting their nest on the little island, which has two eggs in it, and has now been reclaimed by the Coots whose twigs they stole to make it.

These eggs have probably been left for too long to be incubated successfully. Perhaps the female swan only managed to lay these two, and the pair lost enthusiasm for nesting.

The dominant swans have not managed to evict the pair nesting on the gravel bank.

The swan nesting behind the railings near the Lido got up for a moment, revealing six eggs.

Hugh has had a barrier put up in front of the railings to keep people at a distance from the nest, but it's still vulnerable to foxes. Swan have sometimes managed to nest successfully on the shore.

A swan washing on the Serpentine made an impressive splash, and flapped to settle its ruffled wing feathers in their proper arrangement.

The Egyptians on the Serpentine still have seven goslings, and were looking after them under the trees.

The second Coots' nest under the balcony of the Dell restaurant is now a solid and impressive structure comfortably lined with leaves. You are only seeing the very top of it, as it's built in two feet of water.

The Mandarins were still here. I had thought when I saw them in the darkness under the balcony that they were a couple, but in fact they are both male and one of them has gone into eclipse very prematurely. Mandarin drakes hang around together while their mates are nesting in tree holes.

Update: Jorgen wonders whether the duck might actually be female. See this interesting article.

The Red-Crested Pochard with the Mallard mate was back in the Italian Garden. His mate was nearby on the Long Water, and the Mallard drake who is the third member of the odd trio was on another of the fountain pools.

The single surviving young Grey Heron is still in the nest. It was showing signs of restlessness a few days ago, but now seems to have settled down to an easy life of being fed by its parents -- until they tire of this and kick it out to fend for itself.

At the Diana fountain, a Goldfinch paused in a bush before it carried a twig to a small lime tree in the enclosure.

The Reed Bunting was also visible.

There were three Reed Warblers singing in the reed bed, plus another on the Long Water.

A Grey Wagtail was hunting from the dead willow tree in the Italian Garden.

The Little Owl in the alder tree was showing better than recently.