Thursday 30 September 2021

There used to be a very tame Robin in the corkscrew hazel bush in the Flower Walk, but it disappeared. I think this is a new one. It was quite shy.

The usual Coal Tit came out to be fed.

A Long-Tailed Tit stared gravely at the camera.

A Blackbird ate rowan fruit in the trees on Buck Hill.

A male Chaffinch harmonised with the pink bark of an arbutus tree in the Rose Garden.

The male Peregrine was in his usual place on the tower. I haven't seen the female for a while, but pairs of Peregrines often stay apart for days at a time.

One of the youngest Great Crested Grebe chicks cruised by Peter Pan. It's remarkable how well camouflaged they are, with their stripy heads blending into the ripples.

Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and Black-Headed Gulls preened on posts on the Long Water. Preening is infectious, even between species: when one starts the others do it too.

The new influx of Lesser Black-Backs on the Long Water is not getting fed much by humans, and the birds have probably arrived to fish. Neil photographed a young one in the Italian Garden eating a carp which it presumably caught in one of the fountain pools.

There are now quite a few Gadwalls and Shovellers on the Long Water, more of both than last year. The Shovellers are winter migrants, but I think these Gadwalls just wander around from park to park.

Greylag Geese flew over the Serpentine.

A male Egyptian Goose (right) tried to encourage a female to mate. She was happy to join in the head-bobbing display, but then decided she wasn't in the mood and cruised off.

There was a rabbit under the Henry Moore sculpture. I think there's only one in the park now, since it looks like the one I've photographed earlier in the year with a patch of reddish fur on the back of its neck. It's looking tatty but at least it doesn't have myxomatosis, which killed a lot of rabbits a few years ago.

I hadn't noticed before that the iron plaque over the outflow of the Serpentine carries the letters SGHG. It is a parish boundary marker for the church of St George's Hanover Square a mile to the east. Before the modern social services system was set up it was the duty of parishes to care for the indigent. If a starving beggar was found east of the sign St George's would have to look after him, but if his corpse was found floating in the Serpentine it would be up to Paddington Parish to bury him.

The broken land drain in Kensington Gardens leaks water continuously, even in dry weather. Since the flow got heavier in the last couple of months it has created the beginnings of a real marsh on the lawn leading down to the Long Water. Repairs would be expensive and probably nothing will be done for years. The area is too wet to mow and will have to be left as it is. It will be interesting to see how marshland plants develop.

Tom was in the ancient marshland of Rainham, which has been much the same for thousands of years. He took this unusual picture of a Snipe chasing off two Cattle Egrets.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

It was a windy day, and the birds were keeping to the inside of the trees to avoid being buffeted. But in the holly trees near the bridge it was still possible to see a Chiffchaff ...

... and a Long-Tailed Tit.

The holly berries are still not fully ripe, but that doesn't stop Wood Pigeons which will eat any fruit, no matter how green and hard.

A Robin perched securely on a thick branch in the Rose Garden.

On Buck Hill, a Mistle Thrush reached out of a rowan tree ...

... while a young Blackbird looked for fallen fruit on the ground below.

A Little Owl, I think the female of the pair, was in the top of the horse chestnut tree by the Serpentine Gallery.

A young Grey Heron was fishing, or trying to fish, on the gravel strip on the Long Water. It made a lunge but only came up with a bit of algae.

This young Moorhen in the Dell has been sitting on its parents' nest for several days, not wanting to leave a comfortable and sheltered place.

Two Shoveller drakes on the Long Water revolved together, each picking up the little water creatures stirred up by the other. You often see pairs doing this, but there is a shortage of females so males have to dance together.

They are coming back into breeding plumage, but they have been beaten by a Mandarin drake on the far side of the lake, already in his exotic finery.

Some of the Tufted drakes are well advanced ...

... as well as Red-Crested Pochards ...

... and Mallards.

The perilously leaning Lombardy Poplar at Peter Pan has a new crop of Poplar Fieldcap mushrooms.

This is said to be a wood-rotting fungus, but it's only a matter of time before gravity brings the tree down into the lake, rot or no rot. Its roots are already heaving up the path on the land side.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

A day of showers and sunshine. The rain brought up worms for the Blackbirds.

The table umbrellas were up at the Dell restaurant. A Carrion Crow waited for a chance to grab a slice of pizza.

A Chaffinch sheltering under the bushes near the bridge caught a wasp and ate it.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the holly trees above ...

... bringing with them some Great Tits ...

... and Chiffchaffs.

By the time I got to the other side of the bridge the sun had come out and a Robin was singing.

Two Goldcrests were also singing in yew trees in the Dell.

The male Peregrine was on the tower.

A young Herring Gull fished up a crushed Coca-Cola can from the bottom of the lake and played with it.

One of our winter regulars, the Polish Black-Headed Gull T4UN. There are now three Polish visitors in the park.

The teenage Great Crested Grebe from the bridge was fishing and came up with something, but it was only a dead leaf.

At least its father had the chance of a good rest near the bridge.

The younger two chicks on the Long Water were exploring by themselves. But they still need constant feeding and attention from their parents.

A Coot enjoyed a splash in the Serpentine.

Two Greenbottle flies wandered over an ivy flower at the back of the Lido.

Monday 27 September 2021

The second pigeon-killing Lesser Black-Backed Gull (the one with grey legs) caught a Feral Pigeon in its usual hunting ground near the Triangle car park.

I hastily switched to video. While it was struggling with its prey in the water, a Coot saw the fight and tried to join in, just because Coots like fighting.

A young Herring Gull had scraped all the melted ice cream off a tub and was playing with the remains.

One of the two young Great Crested Grebe chicks had been catching insects and had got separated from its parents. It headed off to find them, calling loudly.

A Moorhen in the Dell went over its chick looking for fleas and lice, which provide a nutritious snack.

The orphaned Mute cygnet from the Serpentine was busking about on the Long Water as if the place belonged to it, trying to expel some adult swans which had wandered under the bridge.

Perhaps it was working up its courage, because soon afterwards it sailed up to the four cygnets on the nesting island and joined them. They seemed to accept it, at least for now.

The Shoveller drakes ...

... and Mallard drakes are coming out of eclipse and regrowing their smart green head feathers.

A female Mandarin is not troubled by such things, and looks quietly elegant all year round.

A Cormorant shone while drying its wings during a sunny interval.

The male Peregrine was on the tower, shifting about restlessly in the chilly wind.

A Carrion Crow looked for insects in clumps of cut grass left by a rotary mower.

This area beside the leaf yard was trampled into a swamp by throngs of people feeding the Rose-Ringed Parakeets, and has been fenced off for 'ground restoration', which in practice means leaving it to turn into a jungle. Just the place for a young fox to wander around, feeling safe behind the fence but curious about the people looking over.

Ivy flowers, though not much to look at, produce a great deal of nectar and are much liked by insects. Common Wasps and a Hornet were visiting a patch at the back of the Lido.

An arbutus tree near the bridge has both flowers and fruit. The fruit has been developing very slowly since last year.