Monday 28 February 2022

Anyone for tennis?

A Blue Tit in the Rose Garden investigated a rose hip, then flew into a tree and sang. It's the male of a pair building a nest in a bush here.

A Great Tit preened in a tree just outside the Rose Garden. You can hear the Blue Tit shown in the previous video singing.

Two Wrens sang in the woodland at the foot of Buck Hill.

A Blackbird in the Dell gave the high-pitched alarm call that means 'predator overhead'. This call is given and understood by many small birds. I couldn't see the predator, but it may have been one of the local Peregrines passing by.

The Redwings were busy on the Parade Ground digging up worms. They will have found tens of thousands by now, but the supply seems endless.

The same Redwing in a tree taking a pause to digest its meal.

A very pale pigeon rested in the grass at Peter Pan. I think this colour combination would be called 'red and isabella', but what pigeon fanciers call 'red' is a pinkish bronze, usually darker than this. The pale brown colour called 'isabella' gets its name from a story that Isabel, daughter of Philip II of Spain, vowed during the siege of Ostend in 1601 not to change her underclothes until the town was taken. The siege lasted three years, during which her underclothes became very grubby. Another version attributes the vow to Isabel I, Queen of Castile, during her husband Ferdinand's siege of Granada, but that siege only took eight months.

A Grey Heron parent had a moment of peace in the nest while the chicks were dozing.

A young Herring Gull emerged from the water while diving to find a toy.

They love thing that roll, and when it found a tennis ball it played for several minutes, and then bore its toy off to have another go later.

I didn't see the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull, but in two hours between my first and second visit to his hunting ground he had caught and eaten his lunch, leaving the remains for a Carrion Crow.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water have been hanging around a half completed Coots' nest under the willow near the bridge with the clear intention of stealing it. This is the male.

A pair of Mute Swans have started gathering twigs for a nest behind the boathouse railings.

The Egyptian Geese on the north side of the Serpentine have lost one more gosling to the numerous and hungry gulls, but are doggedly guarding the remaining three.

A squirrel boldly stared at a dog, knowing that it was safe behind the fence. This is under the leaning Lombardy poplar tree at Peter Pan, whose roots are coming out of the path and lifting and tilting the railings. I was surprised that it withstood the recent storm.

Two more pictures from Barruecos sent by Tinúviel. First, a White Stork on one of the big granite rocks. I do wish we had storks here. They can live in Belgium, so the English climate wouldn't bother them.

This is the southern form of the Great Grey Shrike, Lania excubitor meridionalis, distinguished from the ones seen in Britain by having a pinkish buff front rather than pale grey.

Update: Bill Haines has just sent me a remarkable photograph of a Black-Headed Gull ringed by him which has turned up at Kengarags, near Riga in Latvia. The picture was taken there by Ruslans Matrozis last year on 28 March and has taken a while to arrive.

Bill ringed the gull as a second year male on 8 December 2020. Here is my picture of it in the park, taken on 4 February this year. It may not have left yet.

Sunday 27 February 2022

First Reed Bunting

A Reed Bunting has arrived, and was in a reed bed at the east end of the Lido. It's a male just beginning to get the black head of his breeding plumage. Thanks to Ahmet Amerikali for this picture.

A Wren searched for insects on the dead tree near the bridge.

So did a Long-Tailed Tit, or maybe it was looking for spider webs for its nest nearby.

Later one of the pair flew in with a good bundle of web.

A Blue Tit flitted around overhead.

A Pied Wagtail hunting insects on the Parade Ground was hampered by grass, so it couldn't sprint at the usual dizzying speed which makes it almost impossible to keep in the frame.

The Redwings are still here.

Magpies are pairing up. There were two side by side on the grass beside the leaf yard ...

... and a pair preening each other in a tree on the other side of the Long Water.

Another good picture by Ahmet: a Dunnock singing in Southwark Park.

The young Grey Herons in the nest on the island pestered a long suffering parent so much that it couldn't stand them any more and flew down to a quiet place out of their sight.

An interesting picture from Tinúviel: this White Stork colony on rocks at the Los Barruecos natural monument in Malpartida de Cáceres is unique in Europe. The strange granite rock formations fill their need to nest in a high and inaccessible place.

Two pairs of Great Crested Grebes were having a territorial dispute on the Serpentine and chasing each other around.

The male Mute Swan on the Long Water has cleared his territory completely, even throwing out last year's teenagers, so it's just him and his mate and they can get on with nesting.

It's not clear what the pair in the Italian Garden are going to do. If they come down on to the Long Water there will be a bitter fight because both the males are extremely aggressive even by swan standards.

A Tufted drake on the Serpentine stood tall to impress a female.

An early Small Tortoiseshell butterfly fed on some slightly withered crocuses in the Rose Garden.

There was also a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee that had survived the winter. It looked a bit dopey but could fly, and there were several kinds of flower nearby, so I didn't think it needed reviving with a drink of sugar water.

Saturday 26 February 2022

Coots nesting

Coots are now building nests all around the lake. Here are two on the Long Water and two on the Serpentine. The one on the post is very much at risk from Herring Gulls, which perch on the post ready to snatch chicks as soon as they are hatched, but last year a pair of Coots managed to raise a brood here against the odds.

A Moorhen enjoyed a bit of tightrope walking.

Somehow the Egyptian Geese on the north side of the Serpentine have managed to keep four goslings for another day amid the mob of hungry Herring Gulls.

The two young Grey Herons looked over the edge of their nest. Soon they will get adventurous and start climbing around in the tree.

There are still a few Cormorants, though by now they must have fished the lake out to the point of diminishing returns.

And there are still plenty of Redwings on the Parade Ground, digging for worms ...

... and perching in the trees.

One of the Long-Tailed Tit pair near the bridge arrived with a bit of spider web for the nest.

A Wren bustled about in the Rose Garden ...

... and there were several Robins singing in the Flower Walk.

The Jackdaw pair at the leaf yard perched on a branch above their nest hole.

They will always fly down for a peanut.

The Fire Brigade often come to the Serpentine to teach new recruits how to use a hose. They let bystanders have a go, suitably braced to stop them from falling over backwards.

Friday 25 February 2022

Feeding the young Grey Herons

The start of a sunny day on the Serpentine. Thanks to David Lacey for this picture.

A Blue Tit sang on Buck Hill.

At the bridge, a pair of Long-Tailed Tits gathered materials for their nest. The first one is pecking lichen off the tree, the second pulling off bits of spider web. Together these things make a strong composite material. When the spherical nest is complete they will line it with little feathers picked up from the ground.

A close-up of one of them with some spider web.

The Redwings have flown back to the Parade Ground. About 20 of them were briskly hauling up worms.

Heng Ng sent an interesting picture of a pied Blackbird in Colchester. We used to have one in Kensington Gardens in the early years of this blog, and later a female with a white head who became very tame.

A Jackdaw looked down from the hole in the tree near the leaf yard that was once occupied by a pair of Little Owls. There was a good deal of calling and it looks as if Jackdaws are nesting here.

The two young Grey Herons in the nest started begging as soon as their parent arrived. They were fed, a rather disgusting procedure that involves the parent regurgitating mashed fish directly down their throat.

A Black-Headed Gull played with a bit of corrugated cardboard.

The Great Crested Grebe pair opposite Peter Pan repaired their stolen nest.

The male of the other Long Water pair was fishing under the willow near the bridge.

Four new Egyptian goslings went past the Lido, huddling against their mother ...

... but the other pair on this side of the Serpentine are down to their last one ...

... and a Herring Gull was washing nearby in a self-satisfied way.

The Egyptians on the north side have done better, and were keeping their four young in the shelter of the daffodils.

At least one of the rabbits has survived the attention of the foxes. This is the younger of the original two, the one with torn ears. I wonder if those are souvenirs of a narrow escape from a fox.