Sunday 31 May 2020

It looks as if the Mute Swans nesting at the east end of the Lido are going to have to be content with three cygnets, as it's two days since the last egg hatched. But the little ones are healthy and active creatures, and will be protected by their vigilant mother and murderous father.

The family at the other end of the Lido, which had understandably been hiding from the wrath of the other male, reappeared today with all six cygnets in good shape.

The swan nesting on the gravel bank was not pleased to see a Grey Heron standing right next to the nest.

Joan Chatterley reports that the blonde Egyptian gosling in Battersea Park is still alive. Its father attacked it, maybe because it looked odd, and it is now away from the family and fending for itself. It can find its own food without trouble but it won't bhe able to fly for some time, so it's not out of danger.

When our own Blondie was hatched her father accepted her perfectly well.

The Great Crested Grebe nest under the willow near the bridge has been a peaceful scene for several days and looks likely to succeed. Its foundation is a well made Coot nest, so it's unlikely to collapse if the wind gets up.

But not all Coot nests are well made. The second nest at the Dell restaurant is a rough heap of junk, and has already been washed away once.

The north end of the Long Water is now thick with algae after a few hot days. A Moorhen toiled through it ...

... but a heron found it convenient, as fish lurk under the mat and can be grabbed if they stick their head out.

A young Grey Wagtail perched on a rock at the bottom of the Dell waterfall.

Ahmet Amerikali took this picture of a Carrion Crow dunking a bit of bread at the top of the waterfall.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was out in the alder tree in spite of a brisk breeze.

Young Blue Tits bounced around in a hazel thicket begging for food, which their parents brought.

A Cockatoo had a selfie in the Italian Garden.

A pair of Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonflies mated near the Vista, a long and complicated business that is the highlight of their little lives.

A Honeybee visited a flower at the back of the Lido. He's only a drone, but they have their moment too.

Saturday 30 May 2020

The Mute Swans nesting at the east end of the Lido are now hatching their cygnets.

Three have emerged so far from the six eggs. The male swan was guarding the nest with furious vigilance. He killed another swan this morning before I arrived, by drowning it.

Greylag Geese were clearly considered to be big enough to present a threat. But in the water nearby, a Coot fed its chicks unmolested ...

... and a Great Crested Grebe loafed elegantly.

The other swan family were nowhere to be seen, and had probably made themselves scarce to avoid the angry male.

The Canadas had also taken their two goslings on to the Long Water ...

... though the Egyptians were unaware of danger and their six half-grown goslings rested in a heap in the middle of the path.

One of the Bar-Headed x Greylag Goose hybrids has now moulted most of its flight feathers and will be grounded for the next three weeks till it has grown new ones.

The Red-Crested Pochard gang of five has split into four plus one. They were at the Vista.

One of the drakes is now going around independently of the others. Maybe he lost a fight.

A Dunnock perched on a branch beside the Long Water and sang a brief phrase. At the end of May we are already beyond peak birdsong, though there will be some for another month.

A Pied Wagtail preened and fluffed its feathers before going down to the lake for a drink.

A young one was at the Lido, checking the blue rubber non-slip mat for insects, of which it has many.

There was also a Grey Wagtail, but it was skulking behind a patch of weeds and I didn't get a picture of it.

Ahmet Amerikali waited patiently for a Reed Warbler to appear and got a good picture.

If you look closely at a Wood Pigeon's eye you will see that what looks like a strange oval pupil is actually round, but there is a black patch on the iris at one side.

The Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was in the usual alder tree.

This Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly was not doing anything, just sunning itself. But if you look at its abdomen you will see that it is flexing in and out as the insect breathes.

A clump of salvia at the Lido attracted abundant insects, including this Buff-Tailed Bumblebee. These must be the easiest of all insects to photograph, but they are so charming that I can't resist it.

Friday 29 May 2020

The Mute Swan family were in trouble at the Lido. The cygnets were in the water on one side of the fence, and both their parents were on the other side, unable to get over.

Evidently the dominant male swan at the west end of the Serpentine, a hulking bully, had chased them on to the land at the open shore near the Diana fountain. The cygnets were in danger from him and from gulls.

There was only one thing to do. I inexpertly grabbed the female swan and threw the struggling bird as far as I could into the lake, not easy because she had to come down in fairly deep water to avoid injuring her legs, and the fence is three feet back from the sloping edge of the lake. Meanwhile the male swan was attacking me with all his considerable might. But luckily she splashed down unhurt, and swam away in a huff to gather her cygnets.

There was no chance of picking up the male swan, who was in a real rage and no wonder. So I chivvied the furious creature along the path back to the Diana fountain and into the water. And off he sailed with an indignant backward glance.

When I came back later the family were back together none the worse for their experience. They even allowed me to give them a peace offering of sunflower seeds. But swans don't do gratitude.

The Black Swan went back under the bridge on to the Long Water. It must have tangled with the dominant swan on the other side, because it was soon back looking irritable.

The two Canada goslings have taken to sprinting along the lake shore, followed by their parents waddling awkwardly to keep up with them.

The Coot nesting in the Italian Garden gave one of the chicks a thorough going over for fleas -- which may be kind but also provides a few snacks.

A Carrion Crow sunbathed at the leaf yard.

A Blue Tit cooled off in the pool at the top of the Dell waterfall.

A Wren had caught a moth to feed its young.

The young Pied Wagtail at the Lido is already a skilled hunter. It caught a female Common Blue Damselfly, and with some difficulty managed to swallow the long insect.

The Little Owl in the alder tree preened. But soon the wind got too strong for her to be comfortable and she flew away to return to her hole.

A female Emperor dragonfly landed on a reed in the Italian Garden, and I went to photograph her laying eggs. I was expecting her to move on afterwards, but apart from the small backward jump seen here (she was facing into a brisk breeze) she didn't move from the spot. When I came past again an hour and a half later she was still there. Was she exhausted?

There was a Blue-Tailed Damselfly on the same reed clump.

A male Black-Tailed Skimmer sunned himself on a bit of gravel-coated tarmac. They have a liking for gravelly surfaces which makes it hard to get good pictures.

Bramble flowers, which resemble miniature roses, attracted a Honeybee ...

... and a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee.

Jon Spoard reports from St James's Park that the recently acquired young female White Pelican is inconveniently adventurous. Here is his picture of her trying to get into the restaurant.

Then she wandered off into the road. Fortunately traffic is still light. Hugh Smith the Wildlife Officer had to come and pick her up and take her back to the lake.

I wish I could capture a large bird as easily as he does.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Very glad to say that the Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture has returned after a week of absence. She was in her usual place in the alder tree. 

Jackdaws wandered in the sun-parched grass below, looking for insects to eat.

The singing Reed Warbler near the Italian Garden came into view long enough for a hasty picture.

A Wren near the bridge scolded some predator loudly.

One of the young Great Tits could be seen in the bushes.

A Coal Tit in the Rose Garden waited for me to fill up the feeder.

A Grey Wagtail hunted along the edge of the Serpentine. This is an adult male with a clearly defined black bib.

A Grey Heron fluffed out its feathers beside the small waterfall in the Dell.

The pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Long Water shared a Coot chick.

It was not one of the chicks from the nest in the Italian Garden.

The four chicks in the nest at the Dell restaurant are all right too.

The Mute Swan family were feeding at the Lido. The adults dipped for algae. The fast growing cygnets need more protein in their diet, and were feeding on small insects and Daphnia water fleas.

Two new sightings of insects. I thought this one on a palm tree in the Dell was a Banded Demoiselle with the dark bands on its wings concealed by shadow. But Conehead 54 is pretty sure that it's a Beautiful Demoiselle with uniformly coloured wings, and if so it's the first sighting of one in inner London.

A Speckled Wood butterfly rested near the leaf yard.

Someone has done a chalk drawing on the Buck Hill shelter, adding interest to this drab but useful structure.