Monday 30 November 2020

A cold grey day meant fewer people at the restaurant, so the resident Dunnock was looking for bugs under a bench. It's quite used to people, and much less shy than Dunnocks usually are.

No one had come out to feed the Rose-Ringed Parakeets in their usual place, and they were lined up on the railings looking hopeful.

Some were on the other side of the bridge finishing the last of the Japanese crab apples.

A stray racing pigeon, unaware of the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull, became his latest victim. A Carrion Crow, a young Lesser Black-Back and another adult squabbled over the leftovers. I don't think the second gull killed the pigeon ... 

... because the usual killer gull was up the shore in his usual place looking satisfied with his last meal of expensive pigeon, and not bothering to hunt.

On the other side of the lake the male Herring Gull who is always there was playing with an algae-encrusted stone he had fished up. Gulls like to peck at the algae on stones, which can't provide much nourishment for them so maybe it's just part of the game.

Two pairs of Egyptian Geese tried to claim territory on the edge by yelling at each other. You can tell males from females by their calls: females quack and males make a hoarse panting sound.

The Goldeneye was still here, diving non-stop ...

... and the solitary Pochard drake had come over from the Long Water.

The Great Crested Grebes from the east end of the island were having another display.

The Grey Heron was on the nest as usual, with its mate on the ground below.

There are three regular herons on the island. The third is a young one.

On the Long Water, a Cormorant crossed paths with a Lesser Black-Backed Gull ...

... and there were Shovellers at the Vista.

A visit to the Round Pond found the Black Swan in good order, sitting on the edge and preening.

There were a couple of Gadwalls here ...

... and plenty of Common Gulls, including this first-winter bird, just beginning to get its pale grey back. The adult colour, in this case grey (it can also be off-white or pale yellow) is beginning to appear on its pink legs.

Sunday 29 November 2020

The Goldeneye was back in view on the Serpentine -- maybe it never left, though I looked in vain for it yesterday and the day before.

It dives incessantly in the deepest part of the lake and spends much more time submerged than it does on the surface.

A Tufted Duck stood on the dead willow near the Italian Garden.

The elderly and incompetent pair of Egyptian Geese who live in the garden seldom get their feet wet, but today they decided to go for a swim in the fountain.

When a pair of Great Crested Grebes meet, even after ten minutes of being out of sight of each other, the affectionate birds always go through their greeting ceremony.

The Herring Gull I have been filming recently found a chicken bone to play with.

Black-Headed Gulls enjoyed a splash in the Diana fountain.

The usual Grey Heron at the island was in a different nest, but found it too small and went back to the usual one.

The female Peregrine was on the tower in the morning but left and didn't come back when I was there, to the disappointment of some people who had come to see the pair.

The Little Owl on Buck Hill has been seen several times in the past few weeks by Jonathan Henrotay, mostly in the horse chestnut trees between the allotment and the park offices. He says she prefers the two trees nearer the offices. Possibly the hole is in the nearest, though it's impossible to see from the ground. His best recent picture is of her in a lime.

Two Carrion Crows perches on the weathervane of the Lido restaurant.

Hand feeding Starlings is a pretty violent affair. They weren't very keen on the sunflower hearts I offered them first, but when I switched to pine nuts it became a complete frenzy.

Neil found this fungus growing on the steps at the southwest corner of the bridge. The clump is only two inches across. Update: Mario identifies this as Candlesnuff Fungus, Xylaria hypoxylon

Another fungus on a dead tree at the bottom of Buck Hill. Update: Mario thinks it may be old Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune, but closer inspection would be needed and you can't get at it because it's behind the railings.

Saturday 28 November 2020

This is the pair of Herring Gulls I filmed a few days ago waving leaves at each other. They regard a stretch of the lake shore as their private property, and are prepared to confront a huge Mute Swan to defend it.

The male of the pair did what is known as the 'great call'. I hope to be able to film both of them calling together, but so far haven't been able to get the video camera on them in time.

He played with the neck of a broken bottle. Usually it's young gulls you see playing with toys, but things that roll fascinate gulls of all ages.

Someone was feeding raw broad beans to the birds, none of which seemed to think they were edible -- not even Moorhens, which will eat just about anything. A Black-Headed Gull picked one up but quickly dropped it.

The Grey Heron is still standing in the nest on the island.

There is almost always another heron under it, either on the island or on a post, which is probably its mate. But I haven't seen the two on the nest together.

A Carrion Crow tried to get the lid off a takeaway coffee cup.

A Robin sang in the Rose Garden.

This is one of the family of Chaffinches at the southwest corner of the bridge.

There is newly laid turf on the south shore of the Serpentine, and a flock of Greylag Geese were enjoying it.

A Mute Swan splashed down, not an elegant business as they are too heavy to waterski effectively on their webbed feet.

A brief moment of sunlight in the afternoon lit a Cormorant jumping on to a post.

There may be an explanation for the flood in the Rose Garden. At the south end of the Dell there is an urn on a plinth marking a spring from which in the Middle Ages a conduit was built to provide water for the monks of Westminster Abbey just over a mile away. It would have been made of tree trunks hollowed out and fitted together, probably elm which is very water resistant. This notice, done in a good version of the inscriptional capitals on Trajan's Column, is on the plinth. 'Resumed' is a polite way of saying 'stolen', which was what King Henry VIII did to the property of the monasteries in 1536.

The notice used to be on the other side of the plinth until the Dell was railed off in 1922. It covered an older inscription which is now visible but beginning to erode away.

It says:
(Another line is now illegible.)

The flood in the Rose Garden is on a direct line from here to Westminster Abbey. There is also a boggy patch on the lawn halfway to the Rose Garden. It looks as if the Victorian drainage scheme is collapsing, letting out the water from the spring.

Friday 27 November 2020

A Goldeneye appeared on the Serpentine, a rare visitor. It's a first-winter drake, not yet in full breeding plumage and still without the head feathers than give adults an odd profile.

Gadwalls are a familiar sight on the lake but I like photographing their discreet elegance.

A Moorhen examined a half lemon mistrustfully and left it alone. There aren't many things that Moorhens won't eat, but it seems that lemons are among them.

A Black-Headed Gull looked down from a lamp post. The park is lit by gas lamps, but this is at the dangerous corner at the north end of the bridge which needs brighter lighting. Even so, cars often go off the road here.

On the other side of the road Rose-Ringed Parakeets demolished the tiny fruits on a Japanese crab apple tree, as usual wastefully dropping much more than they ate.

At the far end of the bridge a Grey Heron stood on top of a cedar, one of their favourite lookout posts.

Both the Peregrines were on the tower, a bit closer together than usual which made it possible to get a video.

A Pied Wagtail ran up the edge at the Lido.

It looks as if the shortage of Blackbirds might be easing. I saw two today, a male in the Rose Garden and this female under a tree on Buck Hill.

A Magpie looked into a hole in a plane tree in the Dell, hoping to find insects.

A Carrion Crow perched on a stone crown in the Italian Garden.

The female of the pair of Coal Tits at the bridge came to my hand to be fed. The male is shyer and seldom comes, so he got photographed instead.

A Long-Tailed Tit hung upside down from a twig.

There is a permanent flood in the Rose Garden which has made it impossible to plant two of the flower beds. I talked to the people who were pumping it out, and they said that there was a 19th century culvert there. This may be an unknown tributary of the Westbourne. This picture was taken looking across Knightsbridge towards the course of the buried Westbourne where it flows south under Kinnerton Street.

Some jellyfish near the Albert Memorial.