Thursday 30 June 2022

Three owlets in a tree

The Little Owls near the Round Pond were active today. The three owlets were all in the same horse chestnut tree ... 

... with their mother.

Usually she goes to another tree to avoid being pestered by them.

The female at the Serpentine Gallery was hard to see among the sweet chestnut leaves, and I couldn't find any of the owlets. They are much more mobile now and may have been in a different tree, perhaps with their still undiscovered father.

In a nearby tree a Robin was scolding a Magpie rather indistinctly, because it had an insect in its beak. It couldn't go to its nest while the predator was watching. I bribed the Magpie to leave by throwing a peanut some distance away.

The young Carrion Crow here has not yet learnt how to shell a peanut, and was demanding that a parent should do it.

It did get its peanut.

A crow near the Dell restaurant played with a feather.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull hadn't had his lunch, and was stalking around looking for a chance to grab it.

The Coots nesting on the old water filter under the Italian Garden lost their chicks and have just started nesting again. So far there is one egg.

The Moorhens in the Dell are nesting on a rock below the small waterfall.

I was taking a picture of the crowd of Canada and Greylag Geese by the gravel bank on the Long Water, just to show how many there were, and look what cropped up in the background next to the Grey Heron.

The geese didn't seem worried. The Egyptian was actually on the gravel only a few feet away from it.

I can't explain the heavy losses of Mute cygnets on both the Long Water and the Serpentine. Everywhere else the swans seem to be doing fine. Here is a picture by Julia Schmitt of seven cygnets at St Katharine's Dock.

Six-Spot Burnet Moths and a Meadow Brown butterfly fed on ragwort beside the Long Water.

Neil got an interesting picture of a cocoon which presumably is going to produce a Burnet Moth.

A Honeybee browsed on a clump of Verbena bonariensis in the Rose Garden.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Another Little owlet

One of the two Little owlets at the Serpentine Gallery looked down from a branch.

Their mother was on the far side of the tree, as far as she could get, which meant that she was so close to me I could almost have reached up and touched her.

There's still no sign of her mate, who must be spending his days in another tree we haven't found. But both the parents near the Round Pond could be seen. The male called out a mild warning when I went to close to the tree where I could hear, but not see, the owlets. He was hard to find in the leaves and could only be seen from some distance away. He had fluffed himself up and looked almost like a female ...

... but his mate was much more clearly visible in the opposite tree.

There is good news about this family: yesterday Neil found three owlets, and here are his pictures. One of them was by itself.

The other two were together. The one on the right must be the biggest and most developed. It's already beginning to get white streaks on its head.

I was taking some routine pictures of a group of Long-Tailed Tits flying through the trees near the bridge ...

... when a Chiffchaff appeared, following the flock as small warblers often do. It had found a larva.

A Carrion Crow fed a young one ...

... and another had a wash in the Serpentine.

For once it was possible to get a reasonable view of both Grey Heron chicks in the nest at the west end of the island.

One of the herons at the Henry Moore was sitting down, an odd sight.

The five young Coots at the bridge are sticking stubbornly to their nest although it is hardly large enough to fit them all in, and still calling on their parents to feed them although they are quite old enough to find their own food.

A Mute Swan tried to eat an apple. It didn't succeed.

The female swan that nested beside one of the small boathouses, had one cygnet and lost it was back on the nest. Not sure whether the pair are having another try.

One of the cygnets on the Long Water dozed in a nonchalant attitude.

Two teenage Egyptian Geese with their family beside the Serpentine had a mild disagreement.

A Brimstone butterfly perched on a bramble on the west side of the Long Water.

On the other side Neil found more Six-Spot Burnet Moths and took a fine picture of one on a clump of ragwort.

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Chaffinch fledgling

A Sparrow-like chirping from a lime tree was puzzling, as the chances of there being a Sparrow in central London are close to zero. It turned out to be a Chaffinch fledgling.

Its mother was attending to it.

Carrion Crows finishing off a plate of fish and chips at the Dell restaurant disputed who would get the last pea.

One of the Little owlets near the Round Pond was on view.

So was one at the Serpentine Gallery.

A Grey Heron did its best to blend into the woodpile beside the Long Water ...

... and another looked down from a willow. It seems odd that all the herons are in Kensington Gardens apart from the pair nesting on the island and their two chicks. Possibly the nesting pair are chasing the others away.

Black-Headed Gulls are beginning to return from their breeding grounds. Evidently these are the ones that didn't succeed, as there are no young ones yet.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had finished his breakfast and washed his face, and was looking very smart in the sunshine.

A pair of Coots built a nest under the marble fountain at the edge of the Italian Garden when the fountain was out of order. Purely by luck, when the fountain restarted the jets of water coming out horizontally went either side of it.

A Mallard on the Serpentine has four ducklings, one of which is blond. If it survives it will be an adult with normal markings but very light coloured.

It looks very like the Plastic Bath Duck, Anas balnearia.

A Red-Crested Pochard drake at the Vista was almost completely in eclipse, with only a few feathers left from its ginger bouffant crest.

A male Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly basked in the sunlight beside the Serpentine. Unusually for dragonflies, males are duller looking than the bright yellow and black females, but they have fine green eyes.

A Honeybee browsed on a purple knapweed flower at the back of the Lido.

A Seven-Spot Ladybird ran across the path, climbed a stem, and sheltered under a leaf. It's good to see a native ladybird rather than the invasive and ubiquitous Harlequins.

Not a NASA image of the surface of Neptune, but a patch of  toxic blue-green algae at the Dell restaurant, brought on by recent warm weather.

Monday 27 June 2022

Moulting geese

Blackcaps are still singing occasionally. This one was at the foot of Buck Hill. The picture shows the severe damage caused to horse chestnut leaves by the Leaf Miner moth.

A rainy morning didn't deter the Swifts over the lake. They catch raindrops in midair to drink.

A Magpie stared challengingly from a dead tree, surrounded by dead roses.

A Carrion Crow stole a bit of bread someone was giving to the waterfowl. Their low-quality diet results in some of them, particularly the young ones that are still growing, having white patches on their feathers.

A Wood Pigeon wandered through the wildflowers at the back of the Lido, pecking idly at various leaves.

The male Little Owl by the Round Pond gave a single call which allowed me to find him easily. I think he wanted to stop me from crashing around under his tree, take a picture and go away.

The owlets at the Serpentine Gallery are still quite interested in the humans who come to look at them. It was starting to rain as I arrived, and one of them flew into the nest hole and vanished.

When the sun came out later, so did the owlet.

The young Grey Herons are quite hard to spot in their nest, and you seldom get more than a glimpse of them. The second one, on the right of the picture, only showed as a slight movement behind the leaves.

Adults don't exactly melt into reeds as a Bittern would, but their strongly vertical markings make them much less conspicuous.

One of the Moorhens nesting in the outflow of the Serpentine swan through water thick with algae after a few days of warm weather.

This pair of Mute Swans had the prime nesting location on the island and laid eggs, but failed to produce any young.

Meanwhile the pair on the other side of the lake nested in a perilous place at the mercy of foxes, dogs and humans, and have four cygnets which are growing fast.

The edge of the lake is lined with hundreds of Greylag and Canada Geese which have flown in to moult their flight feathers in safety. The swans, which are also moulting, are probably all residents; there are about 120 in the whole park.

Blondie was preening in her usual place at the Dell restaurant.

The Mallard drakes are going into eclipse before moulting.

The boat hire reopens in a few days. The gulls are giving the staff a Herculean labour in cleaning off their mess. (But if Hercules had had a jet washer he wouldn't have needed to divert the rivers Alpheios and Peneios to wash the filth out of the Augean stables.)

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee and a Honeybee crossed paths on the peculiar spiky flower of an Eryngium.