Friday 19 April 2024

Song Thrush imitating a Blackcap

A Song Thrush singing quietly to himself beside the Long Water heard a Blackcap and did a good imitation of the song.

There are Wrens all around the Long Water, singing and chittering and dashing around in the bushes.

A Robin in the Flower Walk bathed in a puddle left by the morning rain.

Just along the path a Long-Tailed Tit was collecting insects for a nest hidden in the bushes.

A family portrait of the Grey Herons in the nest at the east end of the island. As usual with family portraits, the children refused to pose properly.

There's a third Coot nest in the Italian Garden, well hidden in irises in the northwest pool. I only spotted it because I saw one of them carrying a withered iris leaf to a planter.

The Moorhen nest at the Vista is hard to see, but usually they're so well hidden that you don't see them at all.

An aggressive male Mute Swan, probably 4FUK who is now the boss of the Serpentine in the killer's absence, deliberately descended next to another swan to frighten it.

This pair of a Canada Goose and a Canada x Greylag hybrid has been together for quite a while, and you often see them near the Triangle. There's no hope of goslings as the hybrid is sterile. A cross between two members of the Greylag genus Anser would be fertile -- as with the Bar-Headed x Greylag hybrids we sometimes see here -- but not one between Anser and the Canada genus Branta.

As the seven Egyptian goslings start to grow it's become apparent that they are from two different broods, with two of the older and bigger than the others. Egyptians are vague about whether offspring are their own and adopt easily.

The male Egyptian at the Henry Moore sculpture was alone again. It looks as if his mate is nesting once more after two unsuccessful attempts in past months.

The single Egyptian gosling at the Lido was on the jetty with its parents. So were the five Mallard ducklings.

The solitary Mandarin drake wandered along the shore.

A Mexican orange bush in the Flower Walk had three species of hoverfly in it. I've seen this one, Helophilus pendulus, known as the Sun Fly or the Footballer (because of its striped thorax), at Rainham Marshes but not before in the park.

There was also the very common Batman hoverfly Myathropa florea. The bat symbol on the thorax is not well marked in this one.

It was joined by a Tachina fera, which has no common name as far as I know.

Lastly, the problem of yesterday's caterpillars is solved. I looked at the tree they were in and it was a box tree. Also it was partly dead. From that it was easy to find that they were the caterpillars of the Box Tree Moth Cydalima perspectalis, which encloses parts of a tree in a web and eats all the leaves inside it. This is a picture from Wikipedia by Didier Descouens, released under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

Moral: if you see an insect that's hard to identify, note the plant it's on.

Thursday 18 April 2024

Alarmed Blackcap

A Blackcap beside the Long Water gave the quiet high-pitched 'seep' call made and understood by many songbirds, meaning that there's a predator overhead -- in this case a Magpie in the top of the tree.

He recovered from his fright and began to sing again, quietly at first.

Wrens usually yell at the top of their voice, but this one beside the Long Water was singing softly, as if to itself.

A Coal Tit by the bridge looked for insects in an oak tree.

A Magpie flew on to the horse ride near the Triangle carrying a beakful of chips, which it must have harvested from the Lido restaurant on the other side of the lake.

It buried them in the sand. I wish I'd been closer to get a better picture of this behaviour.

A Grey Heron flew into the nest at the east end of the island and was greeted by two ravenous chicks.

The Coots with nine chicks in the Italian Garden have started parking some of them on their old nest from last year. There isn't room for all of them, and the others were off chasing their other parent.

Five of the six chicks in the other pool were in their original nest, with the last one outside pestering a parent.

The Egyptian Geese at the Lido took their single gosling on to the water to avoid a dog. The gosling has some slight scars from a gull or crow attack which it has luckily survived.

The family on the other side of the Serpentine have lost one and are down to seven.

The Mallards at the boathouse have also lost one duckling and have five left.

Joan Chatterley got a good picture of two Mallard drakes fighting over a female in Battersea Park.

Abigail Day reported that the Black Swan had tried to approach his former girlfriend and she had hurried away. So the poor bird has indeed been dumped.

Two black and yellow caterpillars climbed up and down on threads at the southwest corner of the bridge. I've tried to identify them but, not for the first time, failed.

Update: Stephen suggests that it's a sawfly larva, and it looks as if he's right. See the comments below.
Later: No, it isn't. See Friday's blog post.

The patch of green alkanet in the Flower Walk is the bees' favourite at the moment, and was visited by a male Hairy-Footed Flower Bee ...

... a female ...

... and a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Sparrowhawk by the bridge

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond was visible in a horse chestnut tree, though she was well hidden among the leaves and it took three quarters of an hour's dodging about to find the only place she could be seen from.

The Sparrowhawks from Hyde Park often do a tour of Kensington Gardens in the morning, not always at the same time and you have to be lucky to spot them. Ahmet Amerikali was, and found the female in an oak tree at the southwest corner of the bridge.

He also got a good picture of one of the Goldcrests nesting here ...

... and I got a shot of one of the local Long-Tailed Tits above their nest in the brambles.

Another Long-Tailed Tit preened on a branch in the Dell. It's one of the pair nesting in a bush below.

A Robin in the Rose Garden was nervous, probably owing to a Jay on a branch above.

One of the Coal Tits at Mount Gate managed to knock a Robin off my hand in a furious kamikaze dive.

A Blackcap sang at Peter Pan.

A Magpie strolled through the daisies on the grassy bank at the Lido.

The single Mandarin drake was also here ...

... and so were the Egyptian Geese with the eldest gosling.

The Egyptians with very young goslings were keeping them by the boat hire platform so that they could hide under it if danger threatened. You could see eight of them, but it's possible that a ninth was under the platform.

A pair on top of a pollarded tree by the Serpentine saw rivals on the ground below and yelled at them. They got a defiant answer, but in the end the rivals crept away grumbling.

The Mallard at the boathouse is still managing to hold on to her five ducklings. This picture was taken through a barrier put up by people working on the boathouse, which is giving them useful protection from swooping gulls.

The Black Swan was preening at the Dell restaurant, without his girlfriend for the second day running. It's possible that they've split up after their failed attempt to settle in a nest.

The nine Coot chicks in the Italian Garden fountain were milling about while their parents fed them. This one is getting a larva.

In the Flower Walk a female Hairy-Footed Flower Bee worked over a patch of ajuga ...

... but a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee preferred green alkanet.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Thunder and hail

It was a typical English April day of thunder and hail, though there were some sunny spells. The new leaves on the trees are a reminder that we'll get through Eliot's cruellest month.

A Robin by the Triangle was collecting insects for its nestlings somewhere in the shrubbery.

The pair at Mount Gate haven't started nesting yet. They should get a move on.

The usual Coal Tit picked me up at Mount Gate and followed me as far as the Albert Memorial. This is a different one in the Flower Walk wondering whether it dares come to my hand. It didn't, but it probably will soon.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits is nesting in a bush in the Dell.

A Pied Wagtail at the boat hire platform took a brief rest from hunting midges.

The pair of Jays at the northeast corner of the Long Water hadn't been seen for a while but turned up again today, as hungry as ever.

A Carrion Crow also arrived. It dunked its peanut in a puddle, as crows do.

The Great Crested Grebe nest at the Vista is still on the go. Is it late enough in the year for there to be enough small fish to feed the chicks? In past years a few have survived from this time, but the best time for grebes to nest is midsummer and most of them realise this.

There were three peacefully together by the Dell restaurant, a sign that they are recently arrived and haven't yet started claiming territory.

Coot nests are going up everywhere, including in some very silly places. This attempt on the open edge of the Serpentine will probably be abandoned soon. Even Coots sometime realise when an enterprise is hopeless.

The nine Coot chicks in the Italian Garden fountain are now starting to feed themselves, cropping algae off the stone kerb. Their parents are still bringing them food and will continue for some time.

The female Mute Swan on the Long Water nesting island got up to turn her eggs. You can't count them from this low angle of view, especially as they are mixed up with white feathers shed in preening.

The Black Swan had been chased away from the east end of the Serpentine by the aggressive male 4FUK and was by himself, looking rather melancholy.

The brood of nine Egyptian goslings on the Serpentine was surprisingly intact.

The single gosling at the Lido was feeding among the daisies.

A family with four teenagers was disturbed by riders. They were not in real danger as horses pick their steps carefully, but the riders' behaviour seems a shade oafish. The family must be the one from Marble Arch which has come down to the park, maybe for the first time as I haven't seen them here before.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee landed on a bluebell in the Dell but was too large to get in. It flew off to find a more accommodating flower.