Monday 31 July 2023

Great Crested Grebe ashore

The two pairs of Great Crested Grebes at the Serpentine island must have been having a fight, as one of them had been driven on to the shore -- not a comfortable place for grebes, whose legs and feet are so modified for fast swimming that they can hardly walk. Virginia found it and shot this video on her phone.

She also took a still picture.

You'll be glad to hear that when I passed by later it was in the water busily fishing as if nothing had happened.

The grebe nest at the bridge was a peaceful scene, though it's impossible to get an unobstructed picture.

The family with chicks were lurking under a bush somewhere on the Long Water and I couldn't find them today.

A Coot chick wandered around the shore by the Serpentine island on its enormous feet.

Another story with a happy end: yesterday I couldn't find the single cygnet from the pair of Mute Swans that nested on the island, and feared that it had been killed by the big bully swan. But in fact it had been on the far side of the island with its other parent. Today they were reunited safely behind the boathouse railings.

The female Mandarin is still at the corner of the lake by the Dell restaurant, in spite of being bothered by both gulls and geese.

I saw a bird on the gravel strip on the Long Water that I couldn't identify with binoculars, so I took a picture with the telephoto lens, which gives a clearer result. It turned out just to be a juvenile Black-Headed Gull asleep with its head turned back. But next to it was one of the adults that Bill Haines has ringed, Orange 2V57. It's unusual to be able to read a ring at 100 yards.

The female Little Owl was on her usual branch at the Round Pond.

At the Serpentine Gallery the male owl could just be seen through the leaves of the lime tree...

... but the owlet was showing better in the same tree.

A Carrion Crow was preening its shiny black feathers in the owls' nest tree.

It started to rain, and the young Blackbirds in the Rose Garden were happily poking around in the wet leaves.

The male Peregrine was not enjoying it, and was in a huddle on the ledge of the tower.

A Feral Pigeon drank from a puddle. All the birds prefer rainwater to the borehole water in the lake.

Sunday 30 July 2023

Busy young Blackbird

One of the three young Blackbirds in the Rose Garden was digging busily in a flowerbed and eventually found a small worm.

At the Round Pond it was the turn of the female Little Owl to perch in the horse chestnut tree.

I could hear one of the owlets higher up in the tree but it was impossible to see in the dense leaves.

At the Serpentine Gallery the male was visible in the lime tree. His pale face and extra large shaggy eyebrows make him quite distinctive.

A couple of Wood Pigeons perched side by side in a tree by the Long Water. There are young ones all over the grass and numbers in the park are steadily rising, though they'll never overtake the teeming Feral Pigeons.

Cormorants are beginning to return to the lake as this year's young fish grow large enough to be worth catching. There were three on the posts at the island together with two Herring Gulls and a Grey Heron, all interested in fishing.

There was also a Cormorant on the nesting island on the Long Water, along with the usual two Egyptian Geese and Grey Heron.

A young heron was fishing in deep water. I have seen one step into a hole in the lake floor, lose its footing and have to swim, which they do very clumsily but can make slow forward progress.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was on his favourite perch on the Dell restaurant roof. This close-up view shows the ring of black dots on the iris of his eye which makes him instantly recognisable.

The Great Crested Grebes had brought their chicks to the Vista. The Coots had given up occupying their nest, so they could go back when they wanted to.

The female Mute Swan led her five cygnets under the bridge and on to the Long Water. Her mate was already there.

She parked the cygnets on the gravel strip at the Vista. The resident Long Water pair came up with their two cygnets to the Vista from the other side, and there was a confrontation -- but from a safe distance. I think the Long Water male, who spent his early life on the Serpentine, knows his adversary well and realises that if there is a fight it will be to the death.

The single cygnet from the island is missing. I have a nasty feeling that the big bully has killed it, as he did the other three. How wise 4DVP was to take her cygnet to the Round Pond. They were on the gravel bank.

It started to rain, and the Black Swan on the Serpentine took the opportunity of damp feathers to do a bit of preening.

The female Mandarin was at the Dell restaurant again. Sundays are a good time for being fed.

More Mallard ducklings have survived this year than usual, mainly because the number of big gulls has been lower. This one at the Lido with its mother now looks just like an adult female except that its primary feathers aren't fully grown.

There was a Mallard in the race at the bottom on the Dell waterfall, paddling hard to stay in place while she picked off algae. The waterfall is much weaker than usual because the pump that works the top of the fall is broken, as it has been for months now.

A pair of Egyptian Geese displayed on the fallen tree by Peter Pan.

This is the buddleia flower where I photographed a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee yesterday. There was still one on it, with no others in sight. It might be the same bee which has found the big flower head to its taste.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Three grebe chicks

We haven't seen much of the Pied Wagtails recently, but they are still around. This male was on the edge of the Serpentine.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet in the Flower Walk enjoyed an apple core, including the pips.

The male Little Owl at the Round Pond was in the family's current favourite place in the horse chestnut tree.

At the Serpentine Gallery both the female ...

... and the owlet were close together in the lime, but could only only be seen one at a time from different viewpoints.

The Peregrines were together again on the tower -- or at least as close together as these standoffish birds ever get.

The mysterious strawberry thrower had been busy again. I have never seem him or her in action. A young Herring Gull was pecking doubtfully at a strawberry, but it did eat a bit of it.

A Grey Heron preened on the landing stage with its feathers ruffling in the breeze, then it spotted a dragonfly which it grabbed and ate. The unfortunate dragonfly was a male Black-Tailed Skimmer.

There are three Great Crested Grebe chicks from the nest on the Long Water, as you can see briefly at the beginning of this video. Their parents were taking them on their first excursion, to a good fishing ground so that they could be conveniently fed.

But back at the nest things were getting complicated. The nearby Coots' nest was occupied by a heron using it as a fishing platform ...

... so the Coot family occupied the grebes' nest. I don't think the grebes would have had much trouble evicting the Coots.

The new grebe nest under the willow by the bridge can be seen from the other end of the bridge, but you can't get a clear view from any angle.

The female Mandarin on the Serpentine had moved to the east end, where people were feeding the birds at the Lido restaurant. I still haven't found the teenager, which now looks just like her but still doesn't have fully grown primary feathers.

A Holly Blue butterfly perched on the ivy hedge behind the Lido ...

... and there was a Brimstone on the phlox in the Rose Garden.

A small black bee fed on a ragwort by the bridge. Update: Conehead 54 thinks it's a Large-Headed Resin Bee, Heriades truncorum. That's a new genus for me, as well as a new species.

A familiar Buff-Tailed Bumblebee was busy on the other side of the lake, working its way over the many florets of a buddleia flower.

Friday 28 July 2023

Grebe vs heron

The Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Long Water are already swimming around. They still need to keep warm, so they soon climbed on to their mother's back.

A Grey Heron landed uncomfortably close to them. The faceoff went on for a long time and I had to give up filming, but in the end the heron gave up and flew away.

A Coot had made a very tall nest between two baskets on the island. It had chicks which couldn't possibly have climbed up the sheer wall, so there must have been a slope at the back.

The seven Coot chicks in the Italian Garden are now as big as their parents and beginning to get white faces.

These young Greylags at the Dell restaurant as also fully grown.

The Mute Swan from the island took her single cygnet into safety behind the railings at the boathouse. It flapped its tiny wings. Swans' wings are very slow to develop, and it won't be airworthy till it's fully grown.

We haven't had a picture of the Black Swan for a while. He was in his usual place at the east end of the Serpentine.

The Mandarin on the Round Pond is down to her last duckling, but looking after it very carefully.

The young Mandarin on the Serpentine is no longer with its mother, but it's in good order. I haven't seen it for a while but Virginia saw it recently.

A Cormorant stood on the fallen poplar at the Vista. There are only a handful of Cormorants at the moment, since this year's young fish are still too small for them to consider worth catching.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull launched himself from the Dell restaurant roof and flew off in search of his lunch.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker climbed a dying tree next to the Henry Moore sculpture.

Several Jays were waiting for peanuts in the Flower Walk.

At the Round Pond one of the Little owlets was out in the horse chestnut tree.

The one at the Serpentine Gallery was dozing on a branch of the lime ...

... while its mother kept an eye on it from inside the tree.