Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Black Swan is back with girlfriend number one, who has apparently forgiven him for his dalliance with her sister, and seemed quite fond of him again.

Number two was following a another Mute Swan around.

The Great Crested Grebes near the bridge have abandoned their nest in the willow tree, which kept sinking and was often stolen by Coots. They are building a new nest in the next tree away from the bridge, in a less visible spot though you can get quite a good distant view from the bridge with binoculars.

But don't get excited: these early nests are usually abandoned, and hardly ever succeed.

The Grey Heron that haunts the Dell restaurant was looking at its reflection in the window. It showed no sign of wanting to fight it -- unlike the silly Egyptian Geese that defied their reflections in Anish Kapoor's shiny sculpture a few years ago.

Most animals are thought by scientists not to recognise their reflection as themselves; only the so-called 'higher' apes (including us), parrots, and crows, if I remember rightly, are supposed to be able to manage it. But I think that urban birds which often see their reflections in glass, like pigeons, probably learn to realise what they are seeing.

I didn't recognise my pet Black-Headed Gull EY09871 in his new breeding plumage, all dressed up and ready to party. But the bird recognised me, and came over to be fed.

There were at least 30 Redwings looking for worms at the bottom of the Parade Ground near the bandstand.

Apart from them there was just one Song Thrush and several Pied Wagtails.

This Pied Wagtail was taking a break from hunting in a willow tree beside the Serpentine.

The Little Owl in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture was calling.

There was a report in the comments here from Charlie, who saw one of the Tawny Owls a couple of days ago in a tree about 30 yards northwest of the original nest tree. I went round this area today, but so far without seeing an owl or finding any pellets on the ground. However, the owls have been seen in this little group of trees in previous years, and two of the trees are quite gnarled and suitable for them. Most of the group lies more to the west than the northwest.

A Goldcrest was singing near Peter Pan.

One of the pair of Dunnocks in the leaf yard came out of the undergrowth.

This interesting picture was taken by Mike Meilack a few days ago on the Parade Ground. It shows a Carrion Crow ripping up the newly laid turf to get at worms underneath, with a Herring Gull waiting to dive in.

The turf was turned over in several places, though later the workmen went and put it back.

Update: an intriguing comment from Tony in yesterday's post. A few weeks ago he saw an unusual gull on the Serpentine, and put a query about it on BirdForum. It may be an Iceland Gull.


  1. That Black Swan is an outrageous flirt, and no mistake.

    1. He seems to be getting away with it. But for how long?

  2. Good about the Iceland Gull. And I love your pic of the Goldcrest! Have spent hours failing to take a decent photo of these little gems.

    1. Very lucky he came out on a branch for a second.

  3. Talking of the mirror test and goldcrests. Once a goldcrest came sailing out from trees at the bottom of my garden towards my window, hovered about 2 feet away for a second, and then flew off. It was as if it had clocked its reflection moving from a virtual (optical) 50ft distance. Jim

    1. Thanks for the interesting story and the link. Here are the Egyptians failing the mirror test.