Friday 31 March 2023

Lovely weather for ducks

It was a day of heavy rain. A Gadwall wasn't in the least inconvenienced.

It was also windy. A Moorhen walking downwind got its feathers disarranged.

A wind allows Mute Swans to take off with less effort, and they often use blowy days to do a bit of flying, just to keep in practice.

The reed bed east of the Lido has been trodden down in a way that suggested a swan was nesting, and today one could be seen sitting there. A hole has been cut in the net to let the swan in, which makes the whole idea of the net slightly pointless.

Its mate was eating the young leaves in a nearby willow.

The Grey Heron was again sitting in the lower nest at the west end of the island, raising slight hopes that they might be serious about breeding.

One of the young herons was on the island having a scratch ...

... and the other was on a wire basket giving a good impression of Big Bird.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was with his mate by the Dell restaurant.

A Pied Wagtail ran about the tarmac by the small boathouses.

Boats get covered with bird droppings which attract insects, so they are a favourite hunting ground for both Grey and Pied Wagtails. You won't be surprised to hear that this video wasn't shot today.

This Great Tit on Buck Hill calls to me every time I go past, expecting some pine nuts. He got quite a few ...

... while I was trying to get a clear shot of a male Blackcap singing in a hawthorn.

A Wren in the Flower Walk gathered moss for a nest.

Thursday 30 March 2023

Wrens everywhere

Wrens are singing and scolding everywhere. This one was making a fuss in a lime tree near the Italian Garden ...

... and another was hopping around in the bushes near the bridge.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits ranged through the branches above.

A Chiffchaff sang from a treetop near the Speke obelisk.

The female Little Owl was looking out of her hole in the dead tree near the Round Pond.

A pair of Jackdaws inspected the new gravel strip on the pond, found nothing of interest, and returned to the shore.

On a windy day a Great Crested Grebe bounced in the choppy waves and had a preen and a flap.

The grebes at the Lido have abandoned their nest on the net, and were loafing nearby.

On the island the Grey Heron with the red bill was sitting down in the nest. We know better now than to take this as a sign that the pair have eggs. Maybe it just wanted a rest.

One of the young herons was on the island contemplating a pair of Tufted Ducks.

The other was on one of the wire baskets.

The Mute Swans that I filmed courting and mating were at it again. They stay near the island and probably intend to nest there. Although the middle of the island is now blocked off, there are suitable places around the edge.

The solitary Mandarin drake is still here. He was cruising around the Serpentine, occasionally picking insects off the surface of the water.

As soon as a pair of Egyptian Geese see another pair they go into full display mode. These were at the Henry Moore sculpture.

A pair on the traffic island at Marble Arch have six goslings. They lost an earlier brood. Thanks to Duncan Campbell for this picture.

I haven't seen this air ambulance on Buck Hill before. It's an Agusta-Westland AW169. The pilot landed extremely cautiously and slowly, as this helicopter has wheels rather than skids and there was some risk of it sinking in and getting bogged down.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

The Robin meets his match

The dominant Robin in the Flower Walk, who bullies all the small birds, met his match when a bold Blue Tit knocked him off my hand. Blue Tits may be small but they punch well above their weight.

Coal Tit are tiny and have to wait for a gap in the arrivals of larger birds before they can come down to feed. But they usually manage it if you wait for them.

Even smaller, Goldcrests will have nothing to do with humans -- at least so far, but we thought that about Long-Tailed Tits until Mark enticed one to his hand recently. This one was photographed in a bush in the Rose Garden by Shachar Hizkiya.

Thanks for Ahmet Amerikali for this picture of a Long-Tailed Tit nesting in Southwark Park. There are several pairs nesting here, but  in all places I've found here this year the nests are well hidden and you can only get brief glimpses of the birds.

Ahmet also found a Chiffchaff.

The dark Grey Wagtail worked along the shore at the Dell restaurant. This is just across the path from the Dell waterfall, where I hope the pair will be nesting.

The pair of Wood Pigeons at the northeast corner of the bridge munched their way through some leaf buds. Any kind of bud or shoot or berry is food for them, never mind how tough or sour.

The permanent war between Great Crested Grebes and Coots continues. A pair of grebes picked at the Coot nest by the bridge ...

... and the Coots repaired it.

A pair of Mute Swans courted and mated on the Serpentine. The full display might take as long as ten minutes, so only the final two minutes are shown here.

The dominant pair on the Long Water spend too much time begging at the Vista ...

... while intruders come through the bridge and on to their territory. This pair under the willow by the bridge are screened from their sight.

The solitary Mandarin drake, chased away from the pair, looked lonely on the Serpentine. He won't find a mate here. Time to go home to the Regent's Canal and start looking around.

A fine picture of a Tufted drake by Duncan Campbell.

Here is a mystery. I always have a wall calendar with photographs of owls. Normally I buy the National Geographic one which has superb pictures, but this year I accidentally bought a similar-looking but less good one made by another firm. It includes this picture, captioned as a Tawny Owl which quite plainly it isn't. It doesn't seem to be any European species. Do any readers have an idea of what it might be?

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.