Wednesday 31 March 2021

The dominant pair of Mute Swans on the Long Water have finally settled down on their repaired nesting island and have their first egg. The female won't start incubating it until she has laid more, and it will keep viable for several days at ambient temperature. In this way all the eggs will develop and hatch at the same time. The male swan cleared away rivals. The young swan he left in peace (for now) is his own offspring from last year.

The Canada Geese that had ambitions to nest on the island have had to settle for a place on the shore, not a good alternative as there are foxes here.

The swans nesting in the reed bed at the east end of the Serpentine have defeated another attempt to keep then out. A log was fastened to the bottom of the net with nylon cable ties to stop them from creeping in underneath. But somehow they have bitten through the ties and pushed the log aside.

The swans weren't on their nest when I took the picture. They had gone up the shore, and one of them was stealing twigs from a Coot's nest to add to its own nest. There was nothing the angry Coot could do. But it shouldn't have built a nest in such a silly place anyway.

Nearby there is a new swan nest in an equally stupid place under a willow tree. This doesn't have a hope of succeeding, but it shows how desperate the swans are for sites.

The swans nesting in the reed bed near the Lido were preening in front of the fence ...

... and the one on the Serpentine island was settled down peacefully. I think she may have laid some eggs by now.

The Egyptian Geese with the blond father still have four goslings ...

... but the pair at the boathouse have lost two and are down to six.

The pair at the Henry Moore sculpture were in the scrub at the bottom of the slope and it wasn't possible to see if they still have seven. There were certainly at least six.

A third Grey Heron chick has appeared in the nest at the west end of the island. This is what happens when you're watching a heron nest -- the young ones start standing up gradually and appear one by one.

The pair from the top nest don't seem to have got going yet. They were down on the shore.

All is well at the Mistle Thrush nest by the Round Pond.

But it won't be possible to see any chicks till they have grown a bit.

Just four Black-Headed Gulls are left on the Round Pond. One saw a bit of bread on the water ...

... and grabbed it with unerring aim.

A lovely picture by Neil of a Blue Tit in a flowering currant bush.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

The pair of Mistle Thrushes nesting near the Round Pond already have chicks, though they aren't visible at the moment in a well protected nest. A parent collected and delivered worms. At the end of this video you can hear what sounds like a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling. It wasn't -- it was a Starling doing a very good imitation. It fooled several people including me.

But there was a real Green Woodpecker at the leaf yard ...

... and a Blue Tit carrying moss to its nest ...

... and a Starling at its hole with twigs.

A Chifchaff sang from a treetop beside the Long Water.

A Robin sunbathed among dead leaves.

Both the Grey Heron chicks looked out of the nest while their parents were away finding fish for them.

Another heron yawned, probably because it was hot. I don't think these enormously patient birds get bored.

The seven Egyptian goslings by the Henry Moore sculpture are growing fast. Their parents keep them in a corner of the enclosure so that they can make a quick escape through the gateway and into cover.

The eight on the Serpentine are in good order ...

... and so are the four with the blond father. Here is one of the blond goslings.

But I haven't seen the single gosling on the other side of the lake for several days, and fear the gulls have got it.

Both the dominant swans on the Long Water were at the nesting island, and the male was clearing rivals from his territory, a long task because he has let the invasion go too far. Things seem to be moving at last.

Both the swans nesting behind the boathouse railings were there, but no nest has ever succeeded here.

The sunshine gave a good view of Tufted Ducks swimming under water.

There was a rabbit in the Henry Moore enclosure. Someone has seen two rabbits, so there's a chance that the population will recover.

A Peacock butterfly perched on a leaf beside the Long Water.

There were also several Brimstones, but these are almost impossible to photograph because they never settle.

Monday 29 March 2021

The Grey Herons in the nest at the west end of the island have two chicks. Both showed for a very brief moment.

The heron on the Long Water near the bridge was in its favourite place in the reed bed, with chances of both fish and rats.

There is a new brood of Egyptian goslings on the Serpentine near the small boathouses. This isn't at all a safe place, but there's little choice on the open edge of the lake.

The seven Egyptian goslings near the Henry Moore sculpture have survived another day, thanks to attentive parents and enough cover.

But the pair on the Serpentine near the bridge have lost two of theirs, and are down to four.

The odd trio of a Red-Crested Pochard drake, and Mallard drake and a female Mallard has been shaken up by the replacement of the Mallard drake with a new and more aggressive one. The pochard, previously the dominant male, is now the underduck and is shooed away when he tries to mate. Thanks to James Norton for this video.

The group of Red-Crested Pochards on the Long Water is constantly shadowed by a Tufted drake.

I've seen Tufted drakes following Mallards around too. Maybe they're just attracted to bright colours.

There were two pairs of Mandarins at the Vista.

The dominant Mute Swan on the Long Water was clearing out rivals from the area north of Peter Pan, but he will have his work cut out to get rid of them all. There were more swans on the Long Water than on the Serpentine. The pair are still showing no sign of wanting to nest.

The nest on the Serpentine island seems to be a going concern.

The very violent male swan on the north side of the lake opposite the island is happy to eat sweet corn from the hand.

Ko has found a Mistle Thrush nest at the northwest corner of the Round Pond, and sent this picture. He said that they and a Great Spotted Woodpecker nesting in the same tree are surrounded by predators and are constantly scolding them. 

Several Chiffchaffs were singing around the lake. They are hard to photograph as they constantly flit around in the treetops.

The Long-Tailed Tits near the Italian Garden are still hard at work finishing their nest.

The usual Blue Tit came out here to be fed.

Honeybees were kept busy by the multiple florets of grape hyacinth flowers in the North Flower Walk.

Sunday 28 March 2021

The Long-Tailed Tits nesting at the edge of the Diana fountain enclosure were collecting spider webs from the Lido restaurant.

One of the pair near the Italian Garden perched in an alder tree.

In an Italian alder near the bridge (note the difference in the position of the black fruits) a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling. It's the male of a pair that nest beside the Long Water.

A Robin posed on a felled tree trunk at the foot of Buck Hill.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet at the leaf yard took an apple into a secluded spot so it could eat it without interference.

Ahmet Amerikali photographed a Wren near the bridge. There are Wrens all round the lake, making quite a noise at the moment.

Neil managed to make his favourite Coal Tit pose in the pretty pink flowers of a currant bush. This was done by bribery with pine nuts, with a very successful result.

A brisk wind raised waves on the Round Pond that broke on the shore. It seems that this washes up small edible creatures of some kind -- insect larvae or water fleas -- and Pied Wagtails are often seen hunting in the splash area.

Unlike Herring Gulls, Common Gulls and Black-Headed Gulls, Lesser Black-Backed Gulls don't usually do the pattering dance to bring up worms. (I have seen one dancing just once.) This one is pulling up tufts of grass looking for them. I took a series of close-up photographs of what it was pulling up, and couldn't see a worm in any of them. Moral: learn to dance.

There was a good deal of clattering coming from the Grey Heron nest with the chick, but the chick itself wasn't visible. The pair from the top nest came down and stood on one of the wire baskets that surround the island, which were supposed to be full of water plants -- not a successful experiment but at last it gives the herons a fishing station.

Every year a pair of Coots make a nest on the plastic buoys surrounding the Lido swimming area. It never succeeds. As Dr Johnson said when a man married for the second time, it is the triumph of hope over experience.

Speaking of which, there are at least a dozen Tawny Owl boxes in the park, and as far as I know none of them has ever attracted an owl. But a new one has just been installed on the island. A pair of Stock Doves have taken it.

More from the pair of Mute Swans that trampled down the netting around the reed bed, got in, and started making a nest which involved trashing a large area of reeds. The net was put up again with a wire along the top so that they couldn't pull it down. So they have pushed in the bottom of the netting and got in underneath.

As usual, the Black Swan was following a male Mute Swan around making Black Swan gestures and calls which Mute Swans simply don't understand.

One of the blond Egyptian goslings beside the Serpentine. There are still six goslings here.

The brood at the Henry Moore sculpture were only partly visible and couldn't be counted.

A cigarette butt thrown into a rubbish bin in Kensington Gardens started a fire. Luckily the fire station is at the west edge of the gardens, and they arrived promptly to put it out. When the grass dries out in summer there is a risk of bigger fires, and it's surprising that the London parks haven't had a major one for as long as I can remember. But there was a serious grass fire at Wanstead Flats a couple of years ago.