Thursday 29 February 2024

A busy year for herons

The Grey Herons on the island have taken breeding seriously this year. The pair at the east end of the island certainly have eggs, as there has been a sitting bird in the nest for several days.

Nothing could be seen in the west nest at first, but then a heron stood up, shook itself, turned round and sat down facing the other way. So it looks as if this nest has eggs too.

There was a full house in the middle nest -- how convenient that it has two storeys. The parents were in the upper nest and the two young ones below them in the main nest where they were hatched.

A Song Thrush sang in the rain on the shore opposite beside the Serpentine Lodge.

Redwings were spread out in the trees west of the leaf yard making a mild twittering. This tree held only a few of quite a large flock.

A Robin under a bush in the Rose Garden looked depressed, but the rain makes worms easier to catch ...

... and a young Herring Gull was searching busily for them on the flooded lawn nearby.

A Great Tit was looking for bugs in the blossom in the shrubbery ...

... as were a Coal Tit at the northwest corner of the bridge ...

... and a damp but cheerfully twittering Blue Tit near the Albert Memorial.

A Pied Wagtail at the Round Pond found a beetle in a puddle ...

... and a pair of Jackdaws, normally easygoing birds, were having a squabble about something.

The Mandarin drake brightened up the dim scene.

There are still plenty of Gadwalls on the Serpentine.

The Black Swan and his girlfriend were by the bridge.

The Black-Headed Gull EZ73323 was on the post where he and the Czech gull dispute for a place.

The little Tyburn Brook rises in Bayswater and flows down the middle of the Meadow past the Ranger's Lodge and the Serpentine Lodge into the lake by the island. (This is not the larger Tyburn river, which is a mile to the east.) It's supposed to be enclosed in a pipe now, but heavy rain makes it burst out and it forms a pretty little lake halfway down the slope. I'd like to see this made into a permanent feature, which could probably be done with a sluice.

Wednesday 28 February 2024

Two Little Owls

Both the Little Owls could be seen at the Serpentine Gallery at different times. The male looked over the top of the nest tree. At this time the female could be heard calling from a distant tree, though she stopped before I could get near enough to find her.

Later the female was back on a branch of the nest tree and the male was away.

She called to him.

Long-Tailed Tits are nesting in a gorse bush near the Steiner bench, but it's a long way behind the railings and you can only get a distant view.

The Coal Tit at the southwest corner of the bridge was enviously watching the Great Tits feeding from my hand, and nearly came down. It's only a matter of days before it will pluck up courage and follow the others.

The Robin in the Rose Garden shrubbery was singing.

Both Peregrines were on the tower, not taking much notice of each other.

The perfect toy for a Young Herring Gull: it rolls and it's an exciting bright orange.

A parent looked down on the two young Grey Herons in the nest, who were clattering their bills begging to be fed.

The heron in the nest at the east end of the island was sitting again. It's not yet possible to be sure of what's going on here.

In the west nest one of the herons was preening its mate.

The old heron was standing on the Henry Moore sculpture, a favourite lookout post.

On the gravel strip below, the resident pair of Egyptians were strolling about.

A Tufted drake at Peter Pan showed off his iridescent head, purple when viewed from one side, green from the other.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water are definitely nesting. It isn't much of a nest: grebes are sloppy builders. But what they lack in skill they more than make up in affection for each other.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Two Dunnocks

Dunnocks are quiet and easy to miss as they forage under the bushes. The first was at the bridge, the second near the Lido restaurant.

A Wren in dead leaves near the Henry Moore sculpture would have been completely unnoticeable if it hadn't moved.

The local Robin perched above, waiting for a few pine nuts to be thrown on the ground.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits are building a nest in the brambles at the southwest corner of the bridge. One was carrying a bit of lichen.

The pair of Great Tits in the Rose Garden shrubbery are getting quite demanding and follow me around.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling in a nearby Lombardy poplar whose dense twigs made it very hard to see.

A Starling showed off his colours on a tree near the Flower Walk. You can tell he's male by the tinge at the base of his bill: blue for boys, pink for girls.

The female Peregrine turned up on the tower at 2.30, apparently by herself.

Below her on the football fields children shouted and whistles blasted as a Magpie probed the ground for insects and worms.

A Jackdaw perched on a plane branch by the Round Pond. They are learning that the only way to get a peanut without being divebombed by Carrion Crows is to come down on the ground as close as possible.

A crow was not interested in the daffodils. It wanted a peanut.

Only one of this pair of Herring Gulls on the Parade Ground was dancing. It was the other one that got the worm. The dancer disapproved.

A Grey Heron parent was standing on the upper nest again. Perhaps they choose this place to avoid being pestered by their young.

The heron on the east nest was standing up. So when it was sitting yesterday it wasn't because there were eggs, it was just to get out of the strong wind.

The Moorhen was in the pool at the top of the Dell waterfall again. This may be the bird that we saw being beaten up by the resident pair two days ago, which has retreated to a safe place.

The killer male Mute Swan was preening below the marble fountain in the Italian Garden. A Black-Headed Gull ignored this huge menacing creature.

A female Gadwall picked off algae in the shallow water at the edge of the Serpentine.

Home past the Albert Memorial, shining in the afternoon sunlight.

Monday 26 February 2024

Windy day

It was a very windy day and most of the small birds were keeping their heads down in the bushes, but there was cherry blossom in the Flower Walk and a Great Tit perched decoratively in it.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits were bustling around in the bushes on the north edge of the Rose Garden. There is always at least one nest here every year, and in the past we have been able to find some of them and get pictures of the building of these elaborate structures.

Ahmet Amerikali got pictures of a Coal Tit in a yew ...

... and a Goldcrest in holly at the southwest corner of the bridge.

On Saturday Tom photographed a female Siskin in the alders near the Italian Garden where we saw them a few days ago. I've been checking the trees since then but haven't found any more.

Another picture by Tom, our one and only Grey Wagtail on the rocks at the top of the Dell waterfall.

Today there was just a Moorhen here ...

... but a Pied Wagtail was hunting along the edge of Serpentine. It looked carefully over the kerb before taking chances with the choppy waves breaking on the shore.

The Grey Herons' nest at the east end of the island had a sitting bird in it. Before jumping to the conclusion that they've already got eggs, you have to consider that this nest is facing into a howling northeast wind and the heron may just have been keeping out of the blast.

However, at the nest with young, a parent was standing on the upper nest in the teeth of the wind. You can just see one of the young birds wisely keeping down in the lower nest.

At the east edge of the Parade Ground the people laying new turf have added and graded fresh topsoil in an effort to improve the drainage on the impervious clay soil -- the east side of the Parade Ground is often flooded. The new soil attracted a crowd of Herring Gulls and a Lesser Black-Back looking for worms.

The Czech Black-Headed Gull had come down from his favourite perch on the No Swimming sign to have a drink.

There was a Coot with one leg on the boat hire platform. Coots sometimes break legs in their savage fights.

The Black Swan, recently down from the Round Pond with his white girlfriend, preened on the edge of the Serpentine in the strong wind ruffling his ruffles even more. He called to his girlfriend, who was nearby, and she came over. She really does like this peculiar hooting foreigner.

The male Egyptian Goose in the Italian Garden kept up his lonely vigil on the bowl of the marble fountain.

One more picture from Ahmet, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker at Russia Dock Woodlands.

A new notice near the Albert Memorial giving information about the structure shows an engraving of the 'prospect mount' constructed by Charles Bridgeman when he was improving Kensington Gardens in the early 18th century. I found the original drawing on the web -- it was done by Bernard Lens in 1732. The summerhouse on top of the mount could be revolved to face the sun, no doubt requiring a troop of servants to shift it.

The mount was demolished by the end of the century when the trees had grown tall and blocked the view. All that remains is some low hummocks of earth to the east of the much later Albert Memorial and the name Mount Gate for the gate south of the Serpentine Gallery.