Sunday, 30 March 2014

The male Nuthatch of the pair nesting near the leaf yard was singing from the top of a tall oak tree.

However, the sight of me putting pine nuts on the railings 60 ft below him soon brought him down from his lofty perch, and both of the pair came out to be fed.

The male Wood Pigeon in this picture, farther from the camera, is bowing to a prospective mate, part of their courtship ritual.

She looks unimpressed. If she is seriously annoyed by his attentions she will chase him away. Africa Gómez, in her blog The Rattling Crow, has some interesting observations about the courtship of Wood Pigeons and also, most recently, a fascinating article on the intelligence of Goldfinches and Siskins.

The Coots' nest in the racing skiff in the small boat house, which was started several weeks ago and then abandoned, has been completed and is occupied.

So far the pair have three eggs, but more can be expected.

The floating reed bed, still offshore in the Serpentine, has even more Mute Swans on it than yesterday, as well as a couple of Egyptian Geese and a pair of Moorhens.

It has certainly been an instant success. It will not be left out there, but will be anchored to the shore on one side of the lake outflow, with a matching raft on the other side. Although this will lose the attraction of its being safely away from the land, the birds probably also like it because the base of the raft gives them a firm footing and a place to sit. The natural reed beds, where the reeds are growing in water, attract only specialist reed-dwelling birds such as Reed Warblers and last year's Bearded Tits.

In spite of the warm weather there was no sign of any of the owls. I made three visits to the Tawny Owls' tree withut success, and also looked on adjacent trees in case the owlets were out. If and when they do emerge they may not be taken far away, as the new leaves on the nest tree already give quite good cover.


  1. Re the goldfinch article. A few years ago I used to watch goldfinches, sometimes about 30, descend on the winter key crop on a large ash tree I face at the back. Through a 'scope it was clear that the goldfinches would all, having plucked a key, move it under one foot so they could peck out the seed. A few greenfinches would sometimes attempt to feed with them but would never get beyond trying to extract the seed by oral manipulation. Were they stupid or just averse to focussing on not pecking their own foot, as that would mean lowering their guard? The goldfinches themselves would only feed there if a critical mass was present and I once saw two apparently discussing this with head signals. I thought they were like little parrots. Interesting that 'softly spoken' siskins should be even cleverer on average. Jim, n. London.

    1. Yes, I was also surprised that there were such differences between finches with similar habits. You should put your comment on Africa's blog too.