Friday 1 September 2023

Teenage Little Grebe

A surprise visitor: a teenage Little Grebe, still with traces of juvenile stripes. Ahmet Amerikali photographed it at the Lido.

I think it must have flown in. Surely we'd have noticed if the Little Grebe that visited earlier in the year had found a mate and bred. They're quite vocal when there's a pair.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks from the bridge were clamouring for more as their parents fed them non-stop. Here are two chicks, with their mother bringing the fish in both pictures.

Two of the four chicks from farther up the Long Water must have been fed enough, as they were mooching around under a tree.

I heard the older family on the Serpentine near the Lido, but they were out of sight behind the reeds. And I didn't see the pair with one chick at the island, not surprisingly as the nest is behind the wire baskets.

The swimming at the Lido has closed down for the autumn and you can now walk along the waterfront. The park management has again put up notices about blue-green algae, of which I can see no trace whatever. Presumably the idea is to frighten people off swimming.

The five Mute cygnets were just east of the Lido under the watchful eye of their mother. 

This dark Mallard drake is one of three, probably brothers. He's out of eclipse now and back in his sombre breeding plumage.

Gadwalls are occasional visitors to the park. They eat mostly algae and water plants. Tufted Duck are permanent residents and more carnivorous in their diet, diving for molluscs and insect larvae.

A Grey Heron jumped up the small waterfall in the Dell stream, looking for fish. It's an odd little ecosystem as the stream, fed by the high waterfall at the Serpentine outflow, runs for only a few yards before it goes underground in a pipe, which presumably no fish go into for very far. There are some quite big carp in the part below the small waterfall, but there must also be smaller ones suitable for the heron to eat. Probably the supply is kept up by fish from the lake being washed down the waterfall.

The male Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery had been sheltering inside the lime tree during a shower, and emerged cautiously to ensure that he didn't get wet.

I heard the male at the Round Pond calling from an old broken horse chestnut southeast of the nest tree, beside the path that runs up the east side of the Vista. I went round the tree several times, but he was well hidden in the leaves.

The female Peregrine was preening on the tower.

A Reed Warbler showed for a moment below the Italian Garden and I got a hasty poor shot before it vanished.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits jumped around in the trees beside the Henry Moore sculpture.

I heard a Chiffchaff here but only saw it distantly. Ahmet was luckier and got this picture of one, probably young as it looks slightly fluffy.

He also found a Goldcrest here. There's a yew tree nearby, their favourite habitat.

A fox rested in the Dell.

I've heard a disturbing rumour that the park management intend to 'move them on', which I suspect is a euphemism for a worse fate. It would be quite pointless, as the park is brimful of foxes and more would instantly take their place. There have been foxes in the Dell for many years, ever since urban foxes took hold in London. But the management are annoyed by people feeding this family, and have reacted predictably.

A Garden Spider waited in a web near the Queen's Temple.

I was puzzled by this butterfly on the Verbena bonarienis in the Dell. It looked like a Large White but it was yellow. You expect white butterflies to be greenish-yellow on the underside, but this one was quite a bright pale yellow on its upper side as well, not as intense as a Brimstone but very noticeable.


  1. The overseers of central London parks often give the impression that they are not working in the best interests of their designated territories: in particular, St James's park seems to be butchered in one area or another from year to year for no apparent reason. The staff their are definitely anti-feeding, and the only member of the team who ever showed an interest in the wildlife was swiftly moved on 😞

  2. More positively, delightful to see a photo of a chiffchaff. Would say from my observations that they are enjoying a fourth good breeding season in a row 😀

    1. Certainly they were singing all over the place this spring, and I often hear calls now in several areas.

  3. Great shot of the Garden Spider! It is sad to hear such awful news about the foxes, if claims are to be true about their so called fate. Surely they cannot just ‘move them on’ like that and would be going against some wildlife laws..

    I hope the newbie Dabchick isn’t looking to stir up any trouble, knowing what today’s teenagers are like! There has been enough drama on the waters.

  4. Well they aren't making them any money ( the wildlife ) and they have to clean up after they will be relying on yearly bird flu to get rid of them.

    1. I wonder if you could find out from Nick what they intend to do.

  5. You'd think anyone who applies for a job at a large park well known for its diverse fauna would be more sensitive to, well, preserving said fauna. Why take up the management of something you hate? Because if they don't hate their job, they make a damn good impression of hating it.
    I am amazed by the teen Grebe. I take it that in other water bodies Grebes breed earlier, right?
    Any kind soul willing to explain to me, so that I can get it through my thick skull, why on earth would anyone devote their life to studying spiders. Brrrrr.

    1. On second though, scratch that. I just remembered little grebes don't breed in the park, so there's no possible timing comparisons.

    2. They are very anti fauna. Every year they set up traps for birds and mammals.
      Now they got the bird flu they are rubbing their hands. They don't want people to feed the birds ( talking about seeds etc ) because it apparently encourages them to stay which isn't always true. People enjoy feeding them and children from London often can only connect with animals on the parks.

    3. Former wildlife officers here have quit because of what the management told them to do.

      Don't be hard on spiders. They are strange and wonderful creatures.

  6. Crazy about the foxes, you'd think they'd be more interested in keeping them in good condition and free from sarcoptic mange. That is curious about that butterfly, I assume they don't hybridise?

    1. The park management are not in the least interested in the welfare of the animals in the park, and regard them as a nuisance that creates a mess.

      Looking it up, I see that butterflies do hybridise, but only within one genus so it couldn't be a Large White x Brimstone, for example.