Saturday 16 September 2023

Avoiding the swimmers

The mass swimming even on the Serpentine had reduced the whole area to chaos with booming hideous music. Most of the waterfowl had retreated to the Long Water, and the gravel strip was crowded. The five cygnets were there with their father, who for once was not making trouble.

The Black Swan was taking no notice of the hundreds of thrashing swimmers, and was cruising around serenely in his usual place on the Serpentine.

A few Mute Swans remained at the east end of the lake by the Dell restaurant, where a woman with a dog was amusing herself by harassing one of them. Dog owners live in a different world where everything their pet does is funny and lovely.

The boat hire had closed down and a Moorhen trotted over the deserted platform.

The two pairs of Great Crested Grebes with chicks had been forced into the chained-off area between the island and the shore, where they were at opposite ends to avoid conflict. The chicks were having to shout even louder than usual to make themselves heard over the din.

The family near the bridge had had to leave their preferred fishing ground as it was on the swimming route. The three chicks were in the middle of the Long Water preening with their mother.

Father was fishing, and it was service as usual.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's son is still following his father around whining for food. He gets his share of the pigeons and ought to be content with that. (I confidently say 'he' because he's very big.)

The Little Owls at the Serpentine Gallery are getting harder and harder to see, and it took two visits to find the female well camouflaged against the trunk of the lime tree.

Near the Henry Moore sculpture a Chiffchaff perched in a hawthorn ...

... and the local Robin could be seen in the bushes on a bramble.

A horse chestnut tree here has been hard hit by the leaf miner moth. A Great Tit was pecking at the brown patches on the leaves, I think in vain because the caterpillars should have grown up and gone by now.

The amount of damage done by the moth is very variable and this year some trees have escaped entirely, possibly because the moths were killed by last year's drought. Trees standing on mown grass are little affected, but those in rough grass or brambles get badly chewed up.

There was no visible wound in the bark of this hornbeam tree by the leaf yard, but it was oozing a lot of sticky sap.

A Speckled Wood butterfly rested on a fallen leaf below it.

A Red Admiral stood on the path, ignoring the passers by.

While skirting the event I went past the place near the Rima relief where in the Olympic year of 2012 a large patch of British wildflowers was planted. They persisted for years but gradually dominant species took over, and now it's mostly thistles and knapweed. But the knapweed flowers attract plenty of bees. Here are a Common Carder -- there are a lot of them at the moment --

... and a Honeybee.

A remarkable picture from Spain sent by Tinúviel's bird guide Jesús Porras. He set up a camera with a motion detector, and what should trigger it but an Imperial Eagle?


  1. Nice shot of the Spanish Imperial Eagle- a lovely surprise!

    A beautiful portrait of the Black Swan.

    Good to see so many insects too- we had plenty yesterday on my Ruislip LNHS walk too, though forecast from this afternoon through next week looks grim. Typical as I was away last week when you had all the glorious weather here!

    1. We have had a good year for insects, with booms in Red Admirals, Migrant Hawkers and Common Carders, and decent sightings of Willow Emeralds.

      Extremadura, where the eagle picture was taken, seems to be exactly the place where you can set up a camera and the next thing that arrives is some large and spectacular raptor. One of the daily tasks of the local police is rescuing vultures that have eaten so much that they can't fly.

    2. Exrtremadura can be a magical place for so much wildlife. Have had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times.

  2. I have been waiting all week for news of this race! What a mess. Dog owners truly do live in their own world. The thistle patch you visited recently is one that I went to only the other day and photographed a lot of different bee, hoverfly and even hornet species

    1. I must pay more attention to that thistle patch.