Sunday 31 July 2022

Great Spotted Woodpeckers at the leaf yard

Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers called at the southwest corner of the leaf yard. There is usually a pair here, picking insects from the deeply fissured bark of old trees.

The female Coal Tit in the Flower Walk picked delicately at a pine nut. Where they get a chance they live in stone pines and eat the seeds out of the cones, but in this case it came by way of a shop and my hand.

Two flocks of Long-Tailed Tits moved along opposite sides of the Long Water, one on the east side near the bridge...

... and another on the west in a variegated holly tree.

A Reed Warbler came briefly into sight below the Italian Garden.

A human slob's litter is a Carrion Crow's lunch. Where would we be without these useful scavengers?

A pair perched together in a tree by the leaf yard.

The female Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery looked out from chestnut leaves parched by the drought.

The horse chestnut favoured by the female Little Owl near the Round Pond is in even worse shape from Leaf Miner attack as well as lack of water.

One of the owlets was in the same tree.

Neil got a well composed picture of two of the owlets, better than I could manage yesterday. I think they were in a horse chestnut south of the previous one, which for some reason is less damaged.

Better news for Great Crested Grebes: at least there is a pair on the Serpentine. Previously I had only seen one on its own, a sad state for these uxorious creatures. I couldn't get a picture of the two together good enough to publish, so here is one preening.

Although there are several Red-Crested Pochards on the Long Water, there seems to be only one on the Serpentine. All are male, as can be seen from their red bills and eyes despite their sober eclipse plumage.

A fine picture by David Element of a Common Pochard drake diving, making the little leap that diving ducks do to help them to submerge.

(Grebes don't have to bother with this, because they can increase their density by flattening their feathers. Then head down and one kick and they're under.)

There are lots of Emperor dragonflies at the Italian Garden, both on and under the terrace.

A good shot of a Meadow Grasshopper from Neil.

Saturday 30 July 2022

Chaffinch family at the leaf yard

Two Little owlets perched together in a horse chestnut tree near the Round Pond. It was impossible to find a good angle for a shot of both of them, but here anyway are my best efforts.

The female Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery can usually be relied on to pose for her portrait.

There was a lot of twittering in the oak trees next to the leaf yard which turned out to be coming from a family of Chaffinches. Here is a young male beginning to get his colourful adult plumage.

A Long-Tailed Tit perched for a moment in a red-leafed plum tree near the bridge.

This picture by Neil shows the male of the Coal Tit pair in the Flower Walk whose female will take food from your hand. The male won't, but he will skilfully catch a pine nut thrown up in the air.

A Great Tit near the bridge had worn and broken head feathers from feeding nestlings.

A Jay had the same thing on a larger scale. This is one of the parents of the two young Jays on the east side of the Long Water.

Young Magpies at the Henry Moore sculpture were puzzled by the sole surviving rabbit. Thanks to Neil for this picture.

I'm told that there are rabbits in Hyde Park, so there's a chance that this place will be repopulated despite the best efforts of the foxes.

Cormorants are steadily returning now, and there were three on the fallen poplar at the Vista.

A dramatic picture by David Element of one of them swallowing a large carp.

The Coots that nested against a post at Peter Pan and raised two chicks are feeling the urge to nest again, and were building a new nest at a different post. One of the teenagers tried vaguely to help but was shooed out of the way. The other was eating a strawberry, which is unusual as most birds find them too watery to bother with.

The female Mute Swan from the nesting island was also here, chasing a Canada Goose that had got too close to her cygnets.

The other swan family on the Long Water, from the gravel bank at the Vista, had gone under the bridge and come out on the Serpentine.

This is one of those pictures where you kick yourself afterwards for missing something interesting. I was taking a routine shot of a pair of Canadas that looked as if they were thinking of nesting on the raft in the Long Water, and didn't notice a Tufted Duck with three ducklings cruising across in front of them. So they are out of focus. I'll try to find them again.

Two female Emperor dragonflies laid eggs on leaves in one of the fountain pools in the Italian Garden. There are always plenty of Emperors here in summer.

This rather tattered dragonfly is a Norfolk Hawker, not in the park but actually in Norfolk, photographed at Thorpe Marshes by Joan Chatterley.

Friday 29 July 2022

Young Grey Heron flies out

The female Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery was out on her usual tree, but feeling restless.

She preened and scratched and yawned and stretched.

The female near the Round Pond was hard to find in the top of her tree, and in no mood to pose for her portrait.

The female Peregrine could be seen on the barracks tower. This doesn't necessarily mean that her mate wasn't there, as often they go to the back of the ledge and out of sight.

A Carrion Crow sunbathed on the parched grass at the leaf yard.

The Coal Tit in the Flower Walk stayed in the shade of a bush.

One of the young Grey Herons from the island completely left the nest for the first time today.

It stood on a boathouse roof, occasionally nattering at a parent. It landed on the ridge several times, quite a feat for an inexperienced flyer.

A Cormorant caught a fish in the Long Water and shook weed off it before swallowing it.

The Tufted duckling is still on the Serpentine.

David Element reported seeing another Tufted duckling on the Long Water near the Italian Garden, but it was out of sight when I went past.

News of the Pochard at the outflow: Virginia reports that two ducklings are alive in the chamber under the weir, but an attempt to rescue them failed when they skittered into a corner.

On the Round Pond a Mute Swan ducked to avoid being hit by a couple of Greylag Geese splashing down.

Red-Veined Darter dragonflies basked on the tarmac beside the pond.

A rather tattered Emperor rested on a reed at the Italian Garden.

Small Red-Eyed Damselflies mated in one of the fountain pools.

A patch of Great Willowherb attracted Honeybees.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Tufted duckling

A young Chaffinch lurked in the bushes in the leaf yard.

For several days a Chiffchaff has been calling at the southwest corner of the bridge, very hard to see in the trees and bushes. It appeared for a moment on a bramble.

Neil got a good picture of a Robin feeding a fledgling in the Flower Walk. This isn't the young one I photographed on Tuesday, it's farther along to the west.
The female Little Owl near the Round Pond was in her favourite horse chestnut tree ...
 ... and the female at the Serpentine Gallery in the usual sweet chestnut tree. 

 Both trees are looking brown and autumnal long before the proper time, the former because of Leaf Miner infestation and the latter simply because of lack or rain. The owlets are getting much harder to find because as they grow up they stop their insistent begging calls.
 The female Peregrine was on the barracks tower. I didn't see the male. 

Neil made an interesting observation of a Grey Heron with a leech clinging to its face. 

The heron managed to shake the leech off, and Neil photographed it. He thinks it is a Duck Leech, Theromyzon tessulatum

A Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine -- I think the only one. They have had a terrible year. Three early attempts at breeding all failed because it was too early and there weren't yet enough small fish. The parents must have left in discouragement, but a second attempt would have had more success because there are now plenty of small fish. I have known grebes on the lake to start nesting as late as 1 September.

One of the Coot chicks from the boat platform investigated a leaf. 

The Moorhens in the stream in the Dell have built a second nest, as Moorhens often do. I couldn't see any chicks but I think this was simply because they were hidden in the reeds. The parents wouldn't have built a second nest if they had lost their chicks.

A Tufted duckling appeared on the Serpentine today, no doubt the sole survivor of a larger brood.

It's already a week or more old. Probably the nest was on the island. Tufted ducklings have a slightly greater chance of survival than Mallard ducklings because of their ability to dive swiftly and deep.

A family of Egyptian Geese were eating a plant in the shrubbery under the Triangle car park. I didn't know what it was, and looked it up. It's senna, whose pods are used by humans as a laxative -- something certainly not needed by geese.

Another picture by Neil, of a Jersey Tiger Moth. A recent arrival in Britain, this moth is now regularly seen in London.

A Meadow Brown butterfly perched on a heliotrope in the Flower Walk ...

... and a Batman Hoverfly fed on a bachelor's button.