Sunday 31 January 2021

The Redwings were back on the archery field, which is fenced off from the Sunday crowd of park visitors.

You can hear them chattering over the noise of the people in the nearby Diana memorial playground.

A Treecreeper uttered a faint squeak from a tree near the Italian Garden. I haven't seen one for some time. They always appear unexpectedly and it's no good going to look for them.

A Robin which I haven't seen before came out on the path around the greenhouses. It was perfectly happy to be photographed.

Chaffinches hopped around under a holly tree near the bridge.

A Long-Tailed Tit jumped from one twig to another in the Dell without bothering to use its wings.

There are still a lot of Cormorants on the Long Water, though you would have expected them to have exhausted the lake by now. Presumably they know what they're doing. It was a very good year for fish spawning and the supply must have lasted longer than usual.

The Coots at Peter Pan have managed to add more twigs to their nest. They are constantly annoyed by a Black-Headed Gull which hangs around trying to pick bugs out of the nest.

Shovellers and Gadwalls, both usually shy ducks, have started coming to the Vista when people are feeding the waterfowl.

But the Shovellers' favourite place remains the air bubbler in the Long Water, which brings up the small creatures they eat without the need to search.

The Black Swan and a Greylag Goose maintained their feathers on the Round Pond.

The pond created by the buried Tyburn Brook bursting out of its culvert has been enlarged by the recent rain and is now a small lake with a wide variety of birds.

The brook (which is not the same as the larger Tyburn river a mile to the east) rises in Bayswater and flows into the Serpentine near the island. Atlough it's now normally entirely underground, you can see its valley clearly. On its course it passes an old pump which was used to raise water from it. I took this picture from a distance to avoid a long detour around the marshy valley.

It passes through the Ranger's Lodge Garden, where originally it fed a small cascade ...

... down to a pond at the bottom, now green with duckweed.

Saturday 30 January 2021

Constant rain has turned the flat areas of the park into lakes. Black-Headed Gulls searched in the water, probably looking for worms that have floated up from their flooded holes.

A Carrion Crow had the same idea.

The small birds near the bridge were hungry. A Great Tit came out on the railings ...

... and a Chaffinch waited on a twig. One of the Chaffinches here will now come to some people's hand if they are very patient, but I haven't succeeded with it so far.

There is a corkscrew hazel bush under the mealworm feeders in the Dell, and a Blue Tit retired into the middle of it to eat its snack.

Long-Tailed Tits also like perching in it.

I went along the north side of Kensington Gardens to try to find more Blackbirds but only found one, almost certainly the one I saw yesterday.

Two handsome bronze Feral Pigeons perched on a planter at the Lido restaurant.

Another Grey Heron was sitting down in a nest, this time at the west end of the island. But it may just have been having a rest after the labour of fetching and adding twigs.

A nest on the south side of the island was also occupied.

The young heron plays no part in these proceedings, and fishes by itself on the edge of the island.

A Cormorant perched hopefully on the edge of a pool in the Italian Garden. But other Cormorants have already fished these pools down to the point of diminishing returns.

A Coot dived in shallow water, stirring up fallen leaves on the bottom in the hope of finding something edible among them.

There seems to be no progress at all with the nest on the post at Peter Pan, despite hard work by the pair. It would really be just as well if they never managed to build it, as any chicks would be instantly eaten by gulls.

A Mallard cropped algae off the top of the waterfall in the Dell.

Friday 29 January 2021

More rain, and the park is now flooded in many places. A Carrion Crow didn't care and stepped out gaily.

I was having a discussion on Wednesday's blog post about whether tits could move their inner front toes independently to hold a seed against a twig. Certainly some birds, such as owls, can swivel their outer front toes to change the shape of their foot from Ψ for walking on the ground to Χ for gripping branches or catching prey. Look at this Great Tit's feet and see what you think.

At last a Blackbird has shown up on the north edge of Kensington Gardens next to the Bayswater Road. The hawthorn hedge here used to be a favourite place for them, and you might see half a dozen between the Italian Garden and the west edge of the park. But this year there has been a severe lack of them everywhere.

There is no shortage of Robins here -- I found six.

A Mistle Thrush sang in a tree near the Kensington Gardens bandstand.

I can't resist photographing the Long-Tailed Tits which come to visit the mealworm feeder in the Dell.

At the island a pair of Grey Herons worked on building their nest, though not very hard. One couldn't reach a twig, the other flew away. But another nest is complete and the heron settled down in it. It's possible that this bird already has eggs, but the herons here usually take a long time to get going.

A heron on the Long Water preened its neck with a foot.

There were seven Cormorants on the remains of the swan island.

The Coots building a nest on the post at Peter Pan broke off to enjoy a fight.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond came hurrying over. It ought to know by now that I don't have any food that it likes, and I'm not going to give it the unhealthy bread it craves.

A pair of Mute Swans drank from a delicious muddy puddle, which they much prefer to the filtered water in the pond.

Some were grazing on the grassy bank at the back of the Lido ...

... and another charged up the Long Water.

A mild day brought out a few Buff-Tailed Bumblebees on a berberis bush in the North Flower Walk (these are actually about the only flowers in it, but that's what it's called). This is a poor quality photograph taken in dim light, but it's my first bee picture of the year.

Thursday 28 January 2021

Usually a flock of Redwings arrives in the park in January after the Winter Wasteland funfair has finished, to dig worms out of the ruined grass. But this winter, because of the Great Panic, there was no funfair and I couldn't find where the Redwings had gone. Then an anonymous reader tipped me off that they were on the archery field north of Kensington Palace. And there they were, chattering cheerfully in the trees at the edge of the park and feeding on the far side of the field.

Also on the archery field, a distant view of a Green Woodpecker bathing in a puddle left by the heavy overnight rain ...

... and a female Pied Wagtail hunting insects.

Long-Tailed Tits ...

... dashed around in a tree near the Dell.

A Wren chattered and bounced about in the bushes at the foot of Buck Hill.

Both the female ...

... and the male Peregrine were on the tower. Her front is noticeably lighter coloured than his.

A Grey Heron preened on the remains of the swan island in the Long Water.

A Herring Gull caught a tiny crayfish, the first I've seen for a while. The boom and bust cycle of the Turkish Crayfish in the lake is a complete mystery to me.

The Coots building their hopeless nest on the post at Peter Pan have made little progress.

The pair on the boat platform are still sporadically building their nest, which equally has no chance of success. A pair of Moorhens more practically searched the pile of twigs for insects they can eat.

Another Moorhen made itself comfortable in the reeds near the bridge.

The Black Swan was on the Round Pond. It raised one of its wings. You would think that the ruffled feathers would be a hindrance to flying, but they seem to go flat when it takes to the air.

An Egyptian Goose posed grandly on an urn in the Italian Garden.

The first crocuses are coming up beside the Long Water.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

There was a pair of Nuthatches on the edge of the Flower Walk near Queen's Gate. The male was singing and chasing the female.

A Great Tit sounded agitated at first, but calmed down and started to sing. Great Tit song is repetitive but varies a lot between individuals, and can have any number of notes from 1 to 11 (the most I've heard, anyway).

A Long-Tailed Tit hung casually by one foot while eating a mealworm from the feeder in the Dell.

The familiar Blue Tit by the Long Water ate a pine nut I had given it.

Just down the path, this Robin is now coming out to be fed.

A male Feral Pigeon did his best to impress a female. The two are exactly the same colour, and I have noticed that they tend to prefer mates that look like themselves.

A Carrion Crow played with a dirty old plastic cup it had fished out of the lake. This made interesting crinkling noises when pecked.

A new Jay turned up to demand a peanut. Most of the Jays are very smart, but this one looks distinctly tatty.

The male Peregrine was on the tower.

Young Herring Gulls loafed in the Diana fountain.

The Black-Headed Gulls are beginning to develop the black (well actually very dark brown) heads of their spring breeding plumage. This group shows the various stages. They don't breed in the park, and may go off anywhere from rubbish dumps in outer London to as far away as Finland.

A pair of Coots are building a nest on the boat platform, an exposed and thoroughly unsuitable place.

The Red-Crested Pochard in the Italian Garden was standing tall and fluffing up his head in front of the female Mallard. He must resent the way she is now paying more attention to the new Mallard drake than to him.

The Black Swan was on the grass beside the Round Pond showing off its extraordinarily long neck.