Thursday 31 August 2023

One more Great Crested Grebe chick

A young Blackcap picked a fruit off a yew tree next to the Henry Moore sculpture. The sweet juicy red aril is the only part of the yew that isn't poisonous, but the hard seed inside passes through a bird's digestive system so quickly that it doesn't have time to do harm. Thus the tree propagates itself.

The faithful Robin was on a nearby twig. One of these days it will come out and allow me to video it singing.

It had just stopped raining when I found the male Little Owl at the Round Pond wondering if it was all right to come out of the hole.

The female Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery was partly visible in the lime tree.

Two birds from elsewhere: a fine shot by Tom of a male Bearded Tit at Rainham Marshes ...

... and a pleasing picture by Mark Williams from the Welsh Harp of a young Magpie lying carelessly in the middle of the path.

A Grey Heron used a Coot nest at Peter Pan as a fishing platform.

Six Cormorants stood on the posts at the Serpentine island. One took off to go fishing.

There's a new Great Crested Grebe chick from a nest at the east end of the island. I could only see one.

The two chicks from the other nest on the island are considerably older and the red patches on their head are now covered with feathers.

The three from the nest at the bridge had crossed on to the Serpentine. One was being fed ...

...while the others practised diving and the head-shaking greeting ceremony.

The other four on the Long Water were near the Vista. One noisily pestered its father.

The female Mute Swan of the invading pair examined her new accommodation at the nesting island on the Long Water, built for the female her appalling mate had murdered. Thanks to Virginia for this picture, which she took on her phone this evening.

It was quite chilly in the morning but the hardy Bumblebees were busy as usual. Common Carders visited the lavender ...

... and there was a single Buff-Tail on a patch of Blue Mist spirea.

Of course this video was shot next to the Buck Hill shelter, always the place for sights of stange activities from aikido to zumba. I had never seen or heard of the Berimbau, a percussion bow with a gourd resonator, which is from Angola although there are similar instruments elsewhere.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Return of the Round Pond Little Owl

The male Little Owl on the Round Pond reappeared after several days' absence. He was in his usual horse chestnut tree, but in a new place right at the top.

The male owl at the Serpentine Gallery was in the lime tree. He's on a different branch every time I see him.

A stray racing pigeon turned up on the edge of the Serpentine. It was a female and being courted by a male, and probably having a better life than being cooped up in a loft and sent about in a basket.

Starlings waited on an umbrella at the Lido restaurant.

A male Blackcap perched on a twig in the woodland beside the Henry Moore sculpture. A pair bred here earlier in the year.

The usual Robin was also here. He was singing, but inside a bush so I couldn't film him.

The old and arthritic Grey Heron who lives beside the sculpture was walking around stiffly, but still managing to catch insects in the grass.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was still feeling a bit peckish after lunch, so he returned to the pigeon he'd caught and mostly eaten earlier and ate a bit more.

His son has seen him hunting and was having a go himself. Of course he didn't catch anything ...

... so he seized a bagel, which caused him to get chased by the others. I couldn't see who kept it eventually.

The Great Crested Grebes at the bridge were having a quiet moment together.

It was a busy scene farther up the Long Water as the other grebes caught fish for their four chicks. They got four fish in two minutes.

This goose with a speckled head isn't a hybrid. It's a pure Canada. They do get this mutation sometimes, and it's not the only one I've seen here.

A Greylag chewed bark off a twig.

A fox cub in the Dell pricked up an ear at the noise of visitors watching it over the fence.

A Batman Hoverfly browsed on a Mexican Orange flower in the Rose Garden. There are a lot of them around at the moment.

Mark Williams was at the Welsh Harp reservoir, where he photographed a pair of Migrant Hawker dragonflies mating.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Young Blackbird growing up

This young Blackbird in the Rose Garden has often seen me before and wasn't frightened. It hopped around in a flower bed looking for insects and worms. It's beginning to get black male plumage and has a few white feathers, as Blackbirds often do.

Yesterday I fed a Jackdaw on a lawn nearby. Word gets around, and today three turned up.

A flock of Blue Tits flew though the bushes near the Henry Moore sculpture.

One of the young Reed Warblers at the Italian Garden stayed still for a moment.

The male Little Owl could be seen in the usual lime tree. He's in a different place every day, so there's an interesting hunt. I only found him the second time I went round the tree with binoculars.

The male Peregrine was on the tower.

I haven't seen the old Grey Heron at Henry Moore standing up for some time. His old joints must be hurting. But he can stand and even run when he needs to, and can fly perfectly well, and people feed him so it's not a bad old age.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull crept up on a pigeon preening on the edge of the lake, but it saw him in time and flew away ...

... so he had to be content with a bit of bread grabbed from some people who were feeding the swans. Even for this boring morsel his offspring came up and whined at him for a share. The young bird is very big and I think it must be male.

This Great Crested Grebe chick on the Serpentine had just been fed ...

... so it wasn't  desperate to chase its parents. It went off and did a bit of play fishing, looking under the surface and diving. It wouldn't catch anything but this is essential practice for an independent life.

The three at the bridge were with their father ...

...but one of them had carelessly wandered away when their mother arrived with a fish, and missed the chance.

In fact grebes seem to be quite careful to feed their young in turn, and you sometimes see a parent dodging the biggest and pushiest chick to feed one of the others.

The four chicks farther up the Long Water were next to a Pochard preening on a submerged branch. Preening is infectious even across species, so two of the chicks started as well.

A fox in the Dell had been drinking in the stream, and trotted past a waterside clump of willowherb.

I wonder whether the failure of the Moorhens here to breed this year is due to the presence of the fox family. There have been foxes in the Dell for years, but never so many.

A Willow Emerald damselfly took advantage of a brief sunny spell to bask on the railings beside the Long Water.

A Common Carder bee browsed on a buddleia flower.

Monday 28 August 2023

Young Robin learning to sing

The Robins are beginning to return to normal after their summer break. The one near the Henry Moore sculpture, which I have often photographed, sang a couple of phrases in the bushes and then came out on to a branch.

A young Robin in the Flower Walk, still with some juvenile plumage, is just starting to learn how to sing.

The male Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery could be seen in the usual lime tree.

But I'm wondering whether we shall see the owls at the Round Pond again this year. The male, who is much more visible than the female, has been moving around and I haven't seen him for three days.

A Wood Pigeon flapped and crashed around looking for fruit in a patch of self-seeded dogwood shoots near Peter Pan, which were much too thin to bear its weight.

The two young Reed Warblers at the Italian Garden were dashing about in the reeds non-stop, making it impossible to get a halfway decent picture.

A Jackdaw appeared in a tree between the Dell and the Rose Garden, not a place I've seen one before. It knew me and asked politely for a peanut.

The Great Crested Grebes and their two chicks were in the Lido swimming area, not at all worried by the humans thrashing around within feet of them. The No Diving notice badly needs repainting but they'd ignore it anyway.

The family at the bridge were out with two of the chicks ...

... while the third dozed beside the nest under the willow.

The four chicks farther up the Long Water were with their father, waiting for their mother to return with a fish.

The invading Mute Swans have settled down to a routine of begging at the Vista.

The two newly arrived swans in the Italian Garden also seem to have settled in.

Two of the five youngest Egyptian Geese rested by the boathouses. They are already flying, and you can see the fine iridescent green secondary feathers of the nearer one. Coloured secondaries are characteristic of ducks, but both sexes have the same colouring which is characteristic of geese. They are halfway birds, not belonging in either camp.

Fox cubs and a parent wandered around in the Dell. They're safe behind the railings, which they can squeeze through if they want to leave but are too closely spaced for any but the smallest dogs.

A Red Admiral butterfly drank nectar from a clump of Verbena bonariensis in the Dell.

There are six beehives in the garden of the Ranger's Lodge, briskly at work on a sunny day. I wonder what they do with the honey. There are also beehives in Regent's Park, and there the honey is on sale.

Caroline Reay was at Foulness, where she got a beautiful picture of some Golden Plovers.