Tuesday 30 April 2024

Two crows in the fountain

A pair of Carrion Crows landed on the marble fountain in the Italian Garden to dunk some bread they had won from an unwary human.

One stayed to check the algae-covered edge of the basin, looking for small edible creatures. Moorhens also search these places, so there must be something here.

A Magpie perched in hawthorn blossom by the Queen's Temple.

There was a Red Admiral butterfly on another branch.

I had come here to look for a Whitethroat, and heard one singing at the back of the temple. It came into view but was behind twigs so I didn't get a picture, but a singing Blackcap was more obliging.

The Coal Tit at Mount Gate now allows itself to be photographed because it knows it will be rewarded with pine nuts.

The Robins are less patient and hop around irritably till you feed them.

The Peregrines haven't been spending much time on the barracks recently but the female showed up today, I think always by herself.

The young Grey Herons in the nest can hardly be called chicks now. They are rapidly approaching adult size.

The Coot chicks are losing the red feathers on their head which stimulate adults to feed them. Their parents are still devotedly bring them food, although the young are also feeding themselves.

The Mute Swan nesting at the outflow stood up to preen, revealing six eggs.

The swan at the boathouse has recovered her egg which had rolled out of the nest yesterday. The pair think that plastic food containers are a fine nest ornament.

A pair of Canada Geese with two goslings went up the Long Water, safer from gulls than the Serpentine but they may have trouble with the killer swan.

The eldest Egyptian gosling at the Lido is properly wary. It noticed an approaching dog even before its parents did, and headed down the slope towards the safety of the water.

A Mandarin drake preened his fantastic feathers on the edge.

A Honeybee revolved in two rugosa roses. All bees are fond of these roses, which have a lot of pollen and an open shape that makes it easy to get at. Three ladybirds, probably Harlequins, were on the second rose and two seemed to be mating.

Green spurge flowers at Peter Pan attracted a Flavous Nomad Bee, Nomada flava ...

... and a Common Banded Hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii.

Monday 29 April 2024

More Coot chicks

A Wren sang in a bush near the Queen's Temple.

I was here because yesterday Theodore found three Whitethroats, and photographed one of them.

I heard one singing in a bush today but couldn't get a sight of it. I'll keep trying.

Theodore also got a good picture of a Mistle Thrush near the Speke obelisk. They have been sadly few this year.

A Blackbird in the Rose Garden shrubbery was having trouble with a Magpie that had come close to its nest. Uttering alarm calls, it flew to the far end of the shrubbery to draw the Magpie away.

Tom was at Rainham Marshes, where he got a fine shot of a female Kingfisher with a fish ...

... and a male Wheatear.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water were together at their nest on the east side of the Vista. The female on the nest has her wings raised and might be sheltering chicks, but it's hard to see from this distance and with the nest partly covered by twigs.

A new family of Coot chicks has hatched just south of Peter Pan. Their parents were feeding them.

The Mute Swan nesting at the boathouse took no notice of three Feral Pigeons which were wandering about looking for insects in the nest. One of her eggs had rolled out of the clutch, and she didn't seem to have noticed that either. She is perfectly able to get it back.

The seven Egyptian goslings here are still in good order.

The eldest gosling at the Lido stretched and preened. They often sprawl in this way. At this stage their legs are too large for their body and don't fold up comfortably.

The two Mandarin drakes came ashore. They are friendly towards each other till a female appears and then they become deadly rivals.

A Mallard drake shone brilliantly in the sunlight.

Two foxes played in the Dell. They are young and in excellent condition. Older London foxes tend to be mangy, which is a shame.

A Brimstone butterfly rested on a nettle by the leaf yard.

There was also this bee feeding on a dandelion. I thought it was a Honeybee while I was photographing it, but the stripes are too even and it clearly isn't. I hope Duncan Campbell or Conehead 54 can identify it.

Another of Tom's pictures from Rainham: a female Hairy Dragonfly. I've never seen one. They are unlikely to appear in the park, as they like marshes.

A new jetty has been built at the boathouses with what are clearly electric charging points.

It looks as if the park boat hire people have had an attack of greenery and are planning to change the outboard motors on their boats. I hope it slows them down, since they cruise at reckless speed and raise huge washes which would destroy any grebe's nest on the edge. They already have one small electric boat which keeps running out of charge and having to be towed home with an evil internal combustion engine.

Sunday 28 April 2024

Young birds growing up fast

A pair of Goldcrests bounced around an an evergreen oak in the Rose Garden.

A Coal Tit at the bridge came down to pick a pine nut off the ground. This one remains very shy and will probably never dare to come to your hand.

A Long-Tailed Tit perched in hawthorn blossom.

A Wren appeared behind the Big Bird statue ...

... and so did another on the east side of the Long Water.

The Robins at Mount Gate were collecting insects for their chicks.

The male Blackbird from the Dell was gathering worms.

The Song Thrush at Peter Pan perched in a holly tree.

There were Swallows over the Long Water ...

... and Sand Martins over the Serpentine, also some House Martins but I didn't get a usable picture of one.

A female Pied Wagtail ran around on the Lido jetty looking for insects in the grooves in the rubber non-slip matting.

Pigeon Eater was in his usual place by the Dell restaurant looking mean, moody and magnificent.

A view of both the Grey Heron nests at the east end of the island.

The young herons are growing with amazing speed on their diet of regurgitated fish.

The seven Coot chicks in the Italian Garden are now too big to all fit on the remains of last year's nest which they use as a day platform.

The Mute Swans nesting at the boathouse now have four eggs. The female probably hasn't finished laying, so she hasn't settled down to incubate them. 

The Mallard with her five ducklings, now half grown, crossed the lake.

Red campion and bluebells in the woodland at the foot of Buck Hill.

Saturday 27 April 2024


Swallows were flying over the Long Water.

They're a bit late this year. For example, they were seen here on 19 April in 2016. Regular readers of this blog will know that we now have to have the traditional picture of the famous 'Swallow Vase'.

A Greek pelike (storage jar) of about 510 BC, now in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, it shows three people looking at the first swallow of spring. Inscriptions too faint to show in the photograph, and written in the peculiar spelling of the Athenian dialect, say:
Look, a swallow / Yes, by Herakles / There it is / Spring already!

The Robins at Mount Gate were together in the shrubbery, eating pine nuts as if they were going out of fashion.

The Coal Tit also came out several times. They can take pine nuts in quick succession because they don't eat them on the spot, they stash them in cracks in bark to eat later.

The Blackbirds in the Dell were making a loud fuss about a Magpie which had come too close to their nest.

This Grey Heron in the latest nest at the east end of the Serpentine island is certainly sitting on eggs. They don't go into that flat attitude for any other reason.

Pigeon Eater hasn't been in his usual place at the Dell restaurant for a while, but today he was back with his mate, looking disapprovingly at a Greylag Goose.

Coots nest every year on the plastic buoys surrounding the swimming area at the Lido. They never succeed in this exposed place, but the Coots keep doggedly on year by year.

The planters in the Italian Garden provide a much safer site, and there are three Coot nests there at present. The last one, invisible among the irises, hasn't hatched yet. The five eldest chicks were in their nest, growing well but still being fed by their parents.

While six of the seven chicks from the second nest were chasing their parents around the pool, one stood on the old nest used by the family last year.

The Black Swan was alone on the Serpentine. Yesterday I saw him following a swan that was probably his old girlfriend, but she took no notice of him. Jorgen tells me that he was dumped because a male Mute Swan butted in and took her over.

The swan nesting at the Lido restaurant was being guarded by her mate. They have brought some remarkably large bits of branch to the nest.

The Egyptian Geese at the boathouse were keeping their seven assorted goslings together. The difference in size between the two large ones and the five smaller ones is very noticeable.

The single gosling was at the Lido with its parents, eating algae off the buoys.

A Tufted drake dived at the edge. He has to keep paddling downwards at an angle to stay submerged.

The Mandarin drakes were at the Triangle, a few yards apart. We might as well have pictures of both of them while their fine feathers last. They will look sad and tatty soon enough.

Joan Chatterley was at Walthamstow Wetlands, where she got a fine picture of a Black-Necked Grebe in its strange but magnificent breeding plumage.