Tuesday, 28 March 2023

A wet day

It was a cold dark wet day. Mandarins are indifferent to these things ...

... but the young Grey Herons, huddled together in their nest, were looking soggy and miserable.

The heron with the red bill is still occupying the other nest.

Another heron was fishing from a fallen tree in the Long Water.

A Mute Swan ate the leaves of an overhanging willow tree.

A pair of Egyptian Geese were making a fuss on an oak in the leaf yard. They often nest some way from water, and then have to take their goslings on a long and dangerous hike to the nearest lake.

The Great Crested Grebes east of the Lido have, as expected, made a nest on the outside of the netting. They just don't realise that the other side is safer. They could even nest in the reeds here, but the habit of nesting in reeds hasn't penetrated to their culture. The grebes in the Norfolk Broads make nests in and from reeds all the time. Here the grebe has seen a Coot trying to steal a twig from the messy bundle and is coming over to deal with it. The Coot left in a hurry.

A young Cormorant on the Diana fountain landing stage looked like a disreputable penguin.

A Green Woodpecker could be seen poking about in the wet grass between the Dell and the Rose Garden.

A few minutes later it appeared again searching for insects in the bark of a tree.

Starlings and a Carrion Crow enjoyed a splash in the Serpentine.

A Jay beside the Long Water had the colourful background of a fallen kite.

A squirrel was making a drey in the huge Caucasian elm in the Rose Garden, though the drey itself was invisible in the thick fan of branches.

Primroses are coming out near the bridge. Decades ago an old Australian gardener planted primroses and cowslips here, and they are still appearing reliably every year.

To cheer up today's grey pictures, here are two taken yesterday by Ahmet Amerikali in Southwark Park: a Blackcap in new leaves ...

... and a Dunnock in yellow forsythia blossom.

Monday, 27 March 2023

Nesting Robins

There was twittering and movement in a bush in a Rose Garden, and a Robin came down in the flower bed underneath. So now I know where their nest is, despite their efforts yesterday to conceal it.

Duncan Campbell got a fine picture of a Robin whose nest is further advanced and was bringing insects to it. This might be a male feeding his mate on the nest, or there might already be young.

A Blackbird sang in a tree in the Rose Garden ...

... where the magnificent Caucasian Elm is just coming into leaf.

This is the first Blackcap I've seen this year. He was singing in one of the Italian alders on Buck Hill.

The Magpie pair below the Triangle car park were looking very cosy together.

They have made themselves a new nest this year, although the old one is still intact.

A Jackdaw perched on the Little Owls' tree near the Round Pond. I didn't see an owl, though.

A Carrion Crow had won a bit of cake from the Dell restaurant and was dunking it in a puddle.

More pictures from Duncan Campbell: a Lesser Black-Backed Gull had killed a Feral Pigeon at the Round Pond , and was shooing a crow away from it. This is the female of a pair, and Duncan thinks it was she who had killed the pigeon.

She was reluctantly sharing it with her mate.

Neither of these is our familiar pigeon killer, or any of the three wannabes I've seen beside the Serpentine. At roughly the time when Duncan was taking these pictures, I found the pair in their usual place at the Dell restaurant.

The two young Grey Herons were down from the nest and exploring the island. Everything is new and exciting, and their parents are still feeding them when they return to the nest -- but not for ever, so they need to learn to fish.

A parent kept an eye on them from a tree on the shore.

The heron with the red bill was still standing in the nest at the west end of the island. No sign of eggs, or it would be sitting. (I did see it sitting once, but this was a false alarm as it was just keeping out of the wind.)

Greylag Geese were eating new willow leaves beside the Serpentine. Both geese and swans find these very tasty, and soon all the lakeside trees will to cropped to the highest level a swan can reach, giving them a curiously neat appearance.

A fox slunk through the long grass at the edge of the Long Water.

Sunday, 26 March 2023

Wary Robin

A Robin in the Rose Garden was in a particularly wary mood ...

... and I soon discovered why. Its mate was in a nearby bush with a beakful of nest lining, and it didn't want me to know where the nest was.

Singing Chiffchaffs are very hard to film because they jump around in the tree after each phrase and you never know where they're going to settle. This is the best I could do today.

It was near the Speke obelisk, where I go daily in case one of the Little Owls should look out of their hole. Now every time I pass I am remorselessly pestered by four Great Tits which expect to be given a pine nut the moment they finish the previous one.

A Coal Tit in the Flower Walk is just as insistent now.

The young Grey Herons on the island were safely in their nest ...

... and the heron with the red bill was stubbornly guarding the nest at the west end. There is still no sign of breeding here that I can see, but herons have a way of surprising you and I didn't think the first nest was active till an unexpected chick started clacking.

Another heron was fishing on the boat hire platform. You wouldn't think it was possible for a heron to catch a fish from this position so high above the water ...

... but here's a picture I took last year.

There are still a few Black-Headed Gulls, including this young one with only the faintest sign of developing a black head.

Several Great Crested Grebes, I think four, have come to the lake to supplement the three pairs already here. You can tell they're newly arrived when more than two are sitting calmly together without disputing territory.

A Moorhen preened on a branch overlooking the Long Water.

The Black Swan was dozing on the new gravel strip on the Round Pond when he was woken by a Feral Pigeon walking close by him.

He glared at it till it went away, then went back to sleep. But birds sleep only with one side of their brain at a time, and are always vigilant -- as he needs to be in this exposed place only slightly safer than the shore.

There's now almost always an Egyptian Goose on the Round Pond Little Owls' nest tree. I don't think it could nest in the hollow top of the tree, because the hole is probably like a chimney going straight down with no support.

On the Serpentine six Tufted drakes tried to impress a female.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

Blackbird practising

A Blackbird sang quietly to himself as he preened beside the Long Water. They need to practise their wonderful song, which doesn't come to perfection till late spring.

There was another male Blackbird 50 yards down the path. Although Blackbirds are in steep decline in the park, at least at this time of year we get a rough idea of how many are left.

A Robin was also singing in the intervals of hunting bugs on the ground. Happily there is no shortage of these birds, which have adapted well to urban life.

The olive tree between the Lido swimming area and the restaurant is a favourite place for the local Robin to sing.

The constantly furious Wren beside the Long Water looked out from a gorse bush.

A male Chaffinch perched amid spring leaves in the Flower Walk.

A sunny spell brought out the Little Owl at the Round Pond.

The lighter coloured of the two Grey Wagtails was looking for insects on a moored pedalo.

The Grey Heron with the red bill was again occupying the nest at the west end of the island. But claiming territory is one thing, and actually nesting is another. We shall see, but maybe not for a while.

Another heron perched on the Cormorants' favourite branch overhead, heavily daubed with these messy birds' copious droppings.

The heron near the Italian Garden was fishing in the reed bed. The activity doesn't look like fishing, but small fish lurk in the little spaces of water between the reeds and can be hauled out by an observant bird.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes fished side by side at the boat hire platform.

A pair of Coots began to adjust their nest on the wire baskets under the bridge. Much of it is made out of live willow twigs coming up from the stack in the baskets, which is a fish hatchery. They will need more twigs to make the nest usable, but will soon find them.

The dominant pair of Mute Swans on the Long Water went through their daily routine of begging at the Vista before attacking their rivals on the lake. It's time they got down to some serious nesting. Swans on the Serpentine are already mating and looking for scarce nest sites, and this pair have a perfect site carefully made for them.

The Mandarin pair returned to the Serpentine, perhaps only to persecute the rival drake, who would be well advised to return to the Mandarins' home stretch on the Regent's Canal.

Tom was at Dagenham Chase, where he went to get a picture of a rare Alpine Swift first seen in the Lee Valley yesterday.