Wednesday, 18 April 2018

A Wren was having a dust bath on the edge of the Long Water. This is one way of getting parasites out of their feathers.

Overhead, a Chiffchaff sang on a twig with unfolding leaves.

A Long-Tailed Tit examined a bunch of new leaves, wondering it there were any insects in it.

In the hawthorn tree on Buck Hill where the Robins are nesting, both parents were bustling about. One carried insects for the nestlings.

The other stared at the camera. I tried to give it some food, but these Robins don't know me and won't come to my hand.

The Chaffinch in the Rose Garden looked out from the empty feeder.

While I filled it, he perched on a branch and sang.

Surprisingly on a calm sunny day, there were no Little Owls to be seen. But the owls' oak tree near the Albert Memorial is a good place to see Treecreepers ...

... and there are usually Jackdaws poking around underneath.

A small party of Red-Crested Pochards were cruising on the Serpentine. When the drakes are in the presence of females they fluff up their big red bouffant crests.

The Mute Swan nesting at the Lido terrace couldn't stop picking up twigs and rearranging them on her nest.

The Great Crested Grebe on the stolen Coot nest at the island was also restlesss, and was stretching and rearranging her wings.

A Coot and its mate cooperated to add a very large twig to their nest on a post near the bridge.

Coots start their fights by simply attacking each other, and only adopt threat postures when it's over. They seem to have got things the wrong way round.

The Grey Heron on on the island was poking around in the nest. It's impossibly to see what's going on inside, but presumably it was rearranging the eggs.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

There were encouraging signs of nesting in the park. A Mistle Thrush carried a caterpillar to feed its young near the Dell.

A pair of Robins were in a hawthorn bush on Buck Hill, and you could hear the cheeping of chicks in a bramble patch underneath.

The Moorhen nesting in the hawthorn on the Dell restaurant terrace has been there for a while ...

... but here is her mate collecting a bit of reed to repair the nest lining.

The Grey Herons were in their nest on the island, and one of them was poking around, probably turning the eggs to keep them evenly warmed.

The dominant Mute Swan on the Long Water was clearing away other swans from near his nest. Three of them, chased away, landed farther down the lake.

For swans. washing is a pretty intense business.

A female Red Crested Pochard preened at the Lido.

A Bar-Headed Goose had flown in again from St James's Park, which is only about a mile away.

Wood Pigeons eat large amounts of leaf shoots and blossom. But they are not as destructive to trees as Ring-Necked Parakeets, which descend on trees in flocks and completely denude them.

I don't think I will ever understand how the park staff think. This large and expensive tern raft on the Long Water was built several years ago. To attract terns, rafts have to be covered with small stones, with a number of them white and about the size of a tern's egg, to camouflage the bare nesting site. Also, there needs to be a shelter for the chicks when they hatch -- a ridge tile for a roof is often used. These things were never put on the raft, so visiting terns wouldn't look at it. When I mentioned this to someone who, to be kind, I won't name, he said that they would put them on the raft when the terns showed an interest in it. But of course they never did. Later, a pair of Canada Geese nested on the raft and, because there is no hole in the plastic edge, the goslings had to be rescued when they hatched. This year the geese tried again. But now they have been evicted and the raft is covered in netting. So there is no possibility that a tern will ever nest on it, and the whole thing might as well never have been built.

There wasn't much else going on in the park. I was with Tom, so we decided to go to St James's Park. One bird we wanted to see was the Black Swan that had been in Hyde Park for so long. We couldn't be sure which of the Black Swans she was, but I think this is a picture of her. I couldn't get any closer.

There were at most five Black Swans, down from a high of nine a few months ago. There had been reports on the London Bird Club Wiki of a party of four Black Swans seen in several places in outer London. I think that these were the four teenagers who appeared on the Round Pond, went down to the main lake, met 'our' Black Swan, and departed with her to St James's Park. Now they are off wandering again.

There have been reports of a Lesser Black-Backed Gull killing Feral Pigeons in St James's Park. I was uncertain whether it was 'our' gull or another one. We had seen 'our' gull and his mate earlier in their usual place on the Serpentine. But at St James's there was another gull which was definitely hunting pigeons. We didn't see it catch one, but this sighting seems to confirm that it's a different gull.

Only one of the three White Pelicans in St James's Park can fly, and it doesn't often take to the air. But today it was circling over the island.

It kept disappearing behind the trees and I only got a few seconds of video. It never leaves, because it wants to stay with its earthbound companions. But I am told that it once landed nearby on Horseguards' Parade and had to be escorted back on foot.

A Blackbird came out of the shrubbery, clearly expecting to be fed, so I gave it some sultanas. This was in a place where Mark feeds the birds, but this bird doesn't know me and its tameness was quite surprising.

A female Pochard and a terrapin (a Red-Eared Slider) dozed peacefully side by side on a branch on the edge of the pelican island.

There were two more terrapins a little way along the bank.

Monday, 16 April 2018

A Magpie went too near a Blackbirds' nest in the brambles. They succeeded in chasing it away.

Two Long-Tailed Tits preened on a twig.

This is a female Blackcap. Only the males have black heads.

A Song Thrush sang in the Rose Garden.

A Starling on the edge of the Round Pond looked magnificent in the early sunshine.

Rose-Ringed Parakeets are particularly fond of young dandelion leaves. If picked while they are still small, the leaves make a good salad for humans too.

The parakeets can't peck bits out of nuts from a wire mesh feeder, as their bills are too large. So they attack the bottom of the feeder, hoping that any bits they detach will fall into their mouths. Most don't, so the Feral Pigeons on the ground underneath get a free meal.

The Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was in her hole.

But the hole in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture is now used by Stock Doves. I heard one of the owls calling from the horse chestnut trees at the top of the hill near the park offices. But I have never been able to find the hole in these trees where the owls successfully nested last year.

The Grey Heron in the nest on the island had a thorough stretch.

The pair of Great Crested Grebes near the bridge are rebuilding a nest they started and abandoned, under an oak tree about 25 yards from the northwest corner of the bridge. This can be seen from the path, but not photographed as there are too many twigs in the way.

The grebe on the stolen nest on the island was mildly interested in being photographed.

Two young Herring Gulls amused themselves by annoying a nesting Coot. They will be more serious in their attacks when there are eggs or chicks.

While the Mute Swan on the Long Water dozed on her nest, a pair of Coots built a new nest on the edge of the little island. Their previous nest here was too exposed to the swans, which kept demolishing it.

The cowslips are out in the shrubbery at the southwest corner of the bridge.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

There was just time for a quick trip round the park before I went to Rainham Marshes. The Great Crested Grebe on the stolen Coot nest was turning her eggs. I could see four.

A Jay broke off a twig to take to its nest.

A Long-Tailed Tit looked out a bush near Peter Pan.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard came out of her hole.

Tom showed me round Rainham Marshes, where he works as a volunteer. The star attraction was a Black-Necked Grebe. It was far out in the pond, so this is a distant view.

There are Little Grebes calling to each other all over the reserve. Here is one zigzagging across the pond looking for fish, and another sitting on a nest in the reeds.

A Great Egret had been on the marshes for several days, and had been seen that morning, but it eluded us. There were several Little Egrets.

There were plenty of Lapwings. This one seems to be deliberately trembling its foot, possibly to bring up worms or other invertebrates, in much the same manner as a gull's pattering dance to get worms.

A flight of Shelducks crossed the marshes.

A Kestrel hovered, too far away for a good picture.

There were also two Marsh Harriers, farther off and impossible to photograph.

Skylarks rose singing.

Cetti's Warblers were calling all over the place. This is a poor picture, but these birds are so hard to photograph that I think it deserves inclusion.

Tom got a good picture of a female Bearded Tit, which I missed because I was on the wrong side of a clump of reeds.

A male Reed Bunting perched on a bush.

Marsh Frogs were croaking in the narrow channels.

There was a patch of Marsh Marigolds.