Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Sorry the blog is late today. I went to Rainham Marshes, and two trains back were cancelled.

Before that I took a quick trip round the park to see the essential Little Owl at the leaf yard, rather hard to see amid the leaves.

The two young Carrion Crows from the nest near the Henry Moore sculpture were out and pestering their parents.

In the middle of a large group of Wood Pigeons feeding on the ground there was a solitary Stock Dove.

Although there were plenty of Reed Warblers at Rainham, the only one I could get a photograph of was in Hyde Park, at the east end of the Serpentine.

But there were lots of interesting creatures to see at Rainham, such as this Marsh Harrier, one of two that were circling in the distance.

A Redshank posed obligingly on a gatepost.

There were several Lapwings ...

... and a Shelduck on the scrape.

This Oystercatcher was on the Thames mudflats.

Unusually, most of the interesting sightings were of land birds, such as a young Linnet.

There was a Reed Bunting just outside the reserve near the riverside walk ...

... an a distant view of a female Stonechat.

... a cock Pheasant skulked in the long grass.

A Wheatear crossed the boardwalk.

A little farther along the boardwalk was a Painted Lady butterfly.

To a central Londoner House Sparrows are exotic. This young one was among two dozen in the bushes near the Visitor Centre.

The strangest sight of the day was a Marsh Frog making a tremendous noise by inflating and emptying his pouches. He was competing with a rival a few yards away. I made a video of this.

At the end, you can hear one of the numerous Cetti's Warblers singing.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Mandarin family have been quite rightly skulking out of sight in the bushes, but today they reappeared on the Long Water, crossing the Vista. There are still six ducklings. Their mother is shooing away a Mallard.

The Canada Goose family were under the willows on the south side of the Serpentine.

Blondie's smallest gosling was flapping its wings. The flight feathers have not yet completely emerged.

The Mute Swan family on the Long Water passed the Great Crested Grebes' nest in the fallen poplar.

The Moorhens' nest in the Dell is now fully built. It must be anchored to a submerged fallen branch, probably not firmly but this is a sheltered spot and it won't blow away.

There was a Little Grebe in the middle of the Round Pond. It wouldn't come any nearer the edge, and this is the best picture I could manage.

Another bad picture, but quite an interesting one. A Young Pied Wagtail on the edge of the pond is now catching its own insects, and here it makes a lunge for one, possibly a hoverfly.

The first young Starlings are out of the nest, still begging for food from their parents. These two were at the Dell restaurant, where people were feeding the geese and swans so there were plenty of breadcrumbs.

The House Martins on the Kuwaiti Embassy are now repairing their nests, to judge by the rather long time they spend in the holes, about two minutes. If they were already feeding young they would be in and out much quicker.

You can tell where nests are, or have been, by the mud on the painted stucco. This is a record of all the nests that have been there since the building was last painted, and there is only one active nest in this hole, not three.

Most of the Blue Tits are looking tatty now. Nesting is bad for the feathers. This one, in the tall lamp post in the Rose Garden, has a particularly cramped nest site.

A Magpie was sunbathing on a path in the Rose Garden.

And a Robin was perched in a rose bush. It's a wild rose, much prettier than the lurid cabbagey things produced by plant breeders.

Several Reed Warblers were singing around the Serpentine. This one was at the east end.

A few yards down the slope to Rotten Row, a Red Admiral butterfly was perched on the patch of purple wallflowers where I photographed the Small White yesterday.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was out, but not for long as there were Magpies flying around and they will not leave him in peace.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The recovering Grey Wagtail near the Diana fountain had a narrow escape when it fell into the water and was chased by a Coot. Too wet to take off, it fluttered ashore and the Coot left it alone. It may have lost its tail feathers in a similar incident.

A young Pied Wagtail at the Round Pond, unaware of life's challenges, was waiting for its parents to feed it.

The Coots nesting on the post at Peter Pan were having a serious battle with Herring Gulls.

This view of a Grey Heron is the last thing that a fish sees.

The Great Crested Grebe chick on the island was reclining regally on its parents' nest.

The Moorhens nesting on the raft at the east end of the Serpentine have hatched three chicks. They wouldn't all get into the picture, so here is one of them being fed.

The Mute Swan family was under the parapet of the Italian Garden.

On the south shore of the Serpentine the Greylag goslings were guarded by four watchful parents.

We haven't had a picture of Blondie's family for some time. Here she is complacently gazing at her five strapping teenagers.

Another blonde: the female Mallard was preening near the Dell restaurant. Normal Mallards have iridescent blue secondary feathers, but hers are brown.

The notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull was sharing his latest pigeon with his mate.

Two Reed Warblers came out on the net at the end of the Diana fountain reed bed. They chased each other in a flirtatious way and went into the trees to find insects.

One of the Blue Tits nesting in the lamp post in the Rose Garden was on sanitary duty, carrying away a faecal sac from one of the chicks. It took it a safe distance away from the nest before dropping it, so as not to disclose the whereabouts of the nest (though actually the nest is remarkably secure, being made of solid iron).

A Wren was singing loudly from a stem in the Dell.

Nearby, a Small White butterfly perched on a purple wallflower.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was on his usual branch but was chased into his hole by a Magpie. He was not looking happy.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Today brought the first sighting of a young Pied Wagtail on the Round Pond. Its mother flew off ...

... and hunted insects for it over the water.

The changeable weather had brought the insects down low over the water, where they were being hoovered up by Swifts ...

... and House Martins.

The Grey Wagtail that is often seen near the Diana fountain landing stage, and which was in such bad condition that I thought it was a goner, is still with us and is regrowing its lost tail feathers with remarkable speed.

The young Grey Heron was calling for food from the usual tree. It is now looking almost like a fully grown first year bird, and it will be feeding itself soon.

Its parents were on the electric boat, whose glass roof covered with solar panels is a comfortable place to stand.

The Great Crested Grebe chick and its mother were out of sight behind the baskets surrounding the island, but far out in the middle of the lake its father could be seen bringing a perch. The chick will be able to swallow a fish this size now.

The families of geese and swans were out and about, but there are too many now to have pictures of all of them. Here are the Mute Swans on the Long Water ...

... one of the Greylag families under the willows on the south shore of the Serpentine ...

... and a Canada family coming ashore to graze.

The geese are completely unworried by the humans surrounding them and taking photographs, as long as there are no dogs.

Both the Blue Tit parents nesting in the lamp post in the Rose Garden were bringing caterpillars to the nestlings.

There is a cedar tree at the entrance to the garden, and one of the local pair of Coal Tits was hopping around in it.

The alliums in the garden are a magnet for Buff-Tailed Bumblebees.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was high up on his usual branch, staring suspiciously ...

... at a Magpie on a twig below him.

But he stood his ground and was still there when I went back an hour later.