Thursday 31 March 2022

A Belgian Lesser Black-Backed Gull

One of the Song Thrush pair on the east side of the Long Water dug around and found a slug.

A Coal Tit looked out from crabapple blossom near the Albert Memorial.

In the branches round about there were a Blue Tit ...

... a Great Tit ...

... and a Robin.

A Wren perched for a moment on a rock in the Dell. I don't know why it was holding its tail down in that way -- it wasn't displaying to a mate -- but there was a stiff wind and it may have been trying not to get blown away.

A Magpie on Buck Hill collected grass to line its nest.

The Tawny Owl came out several times, but looked uncomfortable in the wind.

A Pied Wagtail sang on the gusty shore of the Serpentine.

Barry Jones sent this interesting picture of a Lesser Black-Backed Gull that was ringed at Grembergen in Belgium in 2018 and now on the Serpentine. This is the first time it's been reported since it was ringed. I was with Barry at the time and we only managed to get part of the number, but it was enough for the ringing people to identify as L926985.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Back was preening his immaculate plumage.

A solitary Black-Headed Gull sat beside the shrubs at the Lido, looking rather miserable. I checked that it wasn't injured: it could walk and fly perfectly well. It should be able to get plenty of food here from the scraps dropped by humans.

One of the Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water brought a fish for the chick. It's growing fast.

There is a new grebe nest south of the Vista. I think the pair that nested under the willow have abandoned their nest, possibly after trouble with Coots, and moved to a new site.

A pair of Coots built up their nest among iris leaves in one of the Italian Gardens fountains. They already have seven eggs in it.

Michael Mac reports that someone has seen two Ring-Necked Ducks on the Serpentine. This American species looks very like a Tufted Duck but the drake has no tuft and a cinnamon-coloured ring round the base of his neck. I shall be looking out for them.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Return of the Peregrine

The female Peregrine was on the tower of the Household Cavalry barracks, where I hadn't seen her for several weeks. She was shifting restlessly, so I started filming her and she soon flew away.

The two Song Thrushes on the east side of the Long Water were foraging in the dead leaves.

Tom was in the park yesterday and surprisingly found three Redwings on the west side of the leaf yard. You'd think they would have left with the others a fortnight ago.

The Long-Tailed Tits were busy around their nest on Buck Hill.

There was a pair of Pied Wagtails on the boat platform ...

... and a Grey Wagtail on a wire basket at the island.

The Tawny Owl was in and out of his hole, at one time harassed by a Jay. He had a good scratch.

Bernard the gardener saw an Egyptian Goose nesting in a hole lower down the same tree. I haven't yet managed to see it sticking its head up. This pair, on a tree a few yards away, must be a different one because the nesting female doesn't come out till the evening, when she has a quick feed and a drink and goes back before the eggs get cold.

Another interesting picture from Tom, this time taken in Richmond Park: a Little Gull. They are infrequent visitors and I haven't seen one in the park since 2004.

A young Herring Gull amused itself by walking along the plastic buoys at the Lido. It couldn't stay still because they tip over under its weight.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine performed the weed dance. I'm sorry the autofocus on my camera, normally very reliable, lost the plot for a few crucial seconds. Hope to do better soon.

A Coot brought a large stick to a nest in the Italian Garden, but couldn't get it either through or over the netting.

Two Mute Swans took off to fly over the Serpentine bridge.

The one surviving Mallard duckling was living dangerously under the hungry gaze of a Grey Heron.

There were two pairs on Mandarins on the Serpentine, one near the Triangle car park ...

... the other near the small boathouses. It's good news that the females are visible and therefore not nesting. In all the time I've been coming to the park Mandarins have only succeeded once in keeping their young from the attention of the Herring Gulls.

A squirrel hung upside down to eat Pussy Willow catkins.

Red Deadnettles have come up and started flowering. They are a favourite nectar source for bees, so I looked around and found a Common Carder.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

On the Thames shore

A day forecast to be cold, grey and drizzly turned out to be perfectly pleasant and there were even sunny intervals. Here is a fine picture by Martin Sacks of dawn at Hyde Park Corner.

One of the pair of Coal Tits near Mound Gate, I think the male, looked down suspiciously from the top of a bush ...

... but the female was happy to take a pine nut from  my hand. With all the Coal Tits I've fed it seems that the females are much more confident than their mates.

A Robin sang amid the peculiar little purple flowers of a cercis bush in the Rose Garden.

A Blackbird looked for food in a flower bed. It hasn't rained for several days and the soil is too dry for finding worms, so he had to be content with a small insect.

A Pied Wagtail perched in a tree beside the Serpentine ...

... and another ran around on the grass.

Our anonymous contributor sent a good picture of a female Greenfinch. Only the males are green, though females have a little flash of colour on wings and tail.

The Tawny Owl looked down from his tree. Tom arrived later to photograph him only to find that he was being mobbed by Jays and had retreated into his hole. He emerged later and Tom got his picture.

Carrion Crows lined up on the railings at Peter Pan looking hopeful. But there are now so many in this area that if you fed any you would be enveloped in a black cloud every time you passed by.

A Grey Heron flew to the island, extending its neck from the usual folded-up flight posture because it was about to soar up and land on a branch.

A young heron from last year played with a bit of rope. Like young gulls, they find any rope or cord fascinating.

The dominant Mute Swan on the nesting island glared at a Cormorant that had the cheek to perch in his territory.

A preening swan on the edge of the Serpentine was fluffed up by a gust of wind.

Most of the bees visible at the moment are Hairy-Footed Flower Bees, of which there are a great many this year, and Buff-Tailed Bumblebees. But there was a Honeybee on a hyacinth in the Rose Garden.

Walking along the South Bank of the Thames from the Millennium Bridge (the famously wobbly footbridge opposite St Paul's) to Westminster Bridge, I was surprised to find three sets of steps that allow you to get down to the water at low tide. There wasn't anything spectacular to see, just Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backs, but it was pleasing to have a bit of contact with London's river.

And of course there were the inevitable Feral Pigeons.

A pleasing wall painting of a morning view westwards up the river, showing the Shard on the left and the Walkie-Talkie on the right. The apparent recess in the brickwork that frames the painting is actually painted on to the flat wall.

Monday 28 March 2022

Goldfinch in a tree

A Goldfinch looked for insects on a tree near the Italian Garden fountains, which you can hear in the background.

A Long-Tailed Tit brought a feather to its nest in the Flower Walk.

A Magpie was also gathering nesting material.

A Robin perched among the enormous blossoms of a Magnolia grandiflora.

A Wren jumped around among new horse chestnut leaves.

Our anonymous contributor sent in a fine picture of a Treecreeper near the Round Pond.

The Tawny Owl enjoyed the warm sunshine in his oak tree.

But the sunshine came after a cold night and there were ice crystals in the air, producing a pair of sun dogs and a halo which could be seen over the Serpentine. Thanks to Duncan Campbell for this impressive picture.

A screaming mob of Herring Gulls descended when someone was unwisely trying to feed a Mute Swan.

The Great Crested Grebes under the willow near the bridge, which seemed to have forgotten about their nest, are back on it.

The Egyptians at the Henry Moore statue have lost their last gosling, and were sitting sadly on the grass.

There are at least three Mandarins in the park, two drakes and a female. Possibly there is a second female already nesting. A pair flew from the Long Water to the Lido, didn't like it, and flew back after a couple of minutes.

A female Mallard appeared near the island with just one duckling left. You can hear the Herring Gulls screaming murder. The drake was no help at all, and chased it.

A female Hairy-Footed Flower Bee gathered pollen from a clump of polyanthus primroses -- not a very good source and she didn't spend much time on each one, but there were no better flowers nearby.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee worked thoroughly over the composite flower of a berberis bush, taking a little sip from each floret.

A brief glimpse of a Bee Fly on a dead leaf -- a bumblebee mimic but with strangely long legs.

Tinúviel sent a pleasing picture of four Spoonbills and two Black-Winged Stilts at Los Barruecos park in Extremadura.