Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Grey Heron was building up one of the nests on the island.

They aren't attending to these with much enthusiasm, but occasionally one starts picking up twigs and does a few minutes' work.

On the shore beneath, a heron had somehow found a large piece of raw meat. This looked more like something from a butcher than a chunk ripped off a corpse in the shrubbery.

The bird was having trouble trying to swallow it. I didn't wait to see what happened eventually.

This was not the heron that haunts the Dell restaurant -- if it were, the meat might have been stolen from the kitchen. The restaurant heron was at a table with people who were kindly giving it pizza and chocolate cake, much easier treats to swallow.

Herons seem to be able to eat anything and thrive on it.

There was no sign of the Black Swan, or of his Mute Swan girlfriend, although I went round the whole lake twice and also checked the Round Pond. They may have been on the wrong side of the island or behind some moored boats.

The girlfriend's brother was eating some spaghetti which someone had weirdly thrown into the lake. He seemed to like it. Swan eat algae, and are used to stringy things.

Soon an adult swan arrived and chased him off before returning to eat the rest of the spaghetti.

Suddenly there are a lot of Pochards on the Long Water.

It is remarkable how they come and go: one day there might be none apart from the handful of residents at the Serpentine island, the next day forty. Where do they go when they aren't here?

A Song Thrush was singing from the top of a tree near the bridge.

There was also a singing Blackbird near the rowan trees on Buck Hill, where this Mistle Thrush was eating berries.

The grass under the Henry Moore sculpture is now often visited by Jackdaws looking for worms. This one was idly playing with a dead leaf.

A Nuthatch came down to take nuts from the railings of the leaf yard.


  1. Ralph, please may I ask what might seem a silly question? We went to the village after dark to look at the Christmas tree lit up and checked out the ducks in the adjacent pond. Only one was on the water,and the rest had disappeared completely from view - not asleep in their usual pond-side resting place either. Where do ducks go at night?

    1. Perhaps they had flown to a place that was safer though there was less food. They do usually fly by night to avoid daytime predators.

    2. They like to go to brightly lit places, if available, where a flock will have a good chance of spotting an approaching predator. I once stayed at a holiday village in Cornwall in which the lawns around the chalets, brightly lit by globe lights, teemed with mallards at night that weren't seeking to be fed. Jim n.L.

    3. Thanks all for your responses!

  2. I was in the park lunch 3rd December and the black headed gulls and coots were fighting oversomething

    Any idea what it is?

  3. Here is a coot which managed to keep their food.
    (My camera is a bit new and I should have used a different ISO for this but it was so dark.

  4. PS with flickr you sometimes have to wait a minute to see the photo.

  5. Probably some insect larva that was hanging just below the surface, but partly obscured by weed which makes it hard to see the shape. We had gulls picking up 'rat-tailed maggots', which are the larvae of hoverflies, and have a breathing tube attached which trails when they are picked up. But these things seem less bulky than the surprisingly large hoverfly larvae,

  6. At around half-past one on Sunday the girlfriend plus her black swan (Bonnie and Clyde?) were by the Dell, inboard of the little artificial reeded island, and thus invisible except from most angles of view; he went round the outside of the islandette to avoid bulling his way past a good dozen other swans who were there, in order to get never the food options from the Dell terrace overhang. (Curious that he should shun a good squabble, mega-coot that he is.)

    Harry G.

    1. Bonnie & Clyde - excellent. I also like the notion of a 'mega-coot'!!! A terrifying prospect.

    2. Thanks for the information. Was worried that he had done a moonlight flit, with or without girlfriend. But he was visible today and gave me a big hello.