Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Mallard near the bridge had thirteen ducklings.

The Mute Swans near the landing stage were off their nest, revealing five eggs.

At the far end of the Lido, the male swan was ripping up an ornamental bush ...

... and bringing the bits to his mate, who arranged them on the nest.

The mystery of the stray swan eggs near the bridge continues. A third one was lying on the bank, with a male swan asleep and ignoring it.

There is one nest here, but it doesn't seem to have any eggs in it. Swans are constantly coming and going here, and it's a very disordered place.

Blondie's goslings are quite large now, and she can relax and preen her pale wings.

The Coots foolishly nesting on the post near Peter Pan can't relax for a moment, as Herring Gulls are constantly on the watch for a chance to steal their eggs.

There were Pied Wagtails all along the south shore of the Serpentine.

A pair of Grey Wagtails were hunting at the Lido.

There was a third Grey Wagtail a bit farther along the shore, but it was in a very tatty state and unlikely to survive for long.

A Robin was collecting insects in the reed bed near the Diana fountain, and taking them to a nest in the shrubbery between here and the bridge.

Across the lake, a Blackcap was furiously scolding some unseen predator.

The Little Owl near the leaf yard was often visible on the edge of his hole or a nearby branch.

Yesterday I mentioned the two stone nymphs in the Italian Garden who pour water from urns into the lake.

They sit each side of the marble fountain decorated with four tritons.

And here, on the keystone of the central arch of the loggia, is their boss, the god of the River Westbourne, who seems most depressed.

His flowing hair and beard, of course, represent water, but his odd hat needs explanation. It is an image of the three arches through which the river originally flowed into the Long Water, here shown in a mid-19th century engraving. They can still be seen at the back of the loggia.

The complex iconographic scheme also includes swans, ram's heads, and reliefs of Victoria and Albert and of children engaged in rustic sports. It all seems a bit much for a tiny river which was only a few feet wide before it was dammed to create the lake. To add insult to injury, the Westbourne no longer flows into the Long Water. It was a smelly little stream because of all the rubbish thrown into it higher up, and when the Italian Garden was built in 1860 the water was diverted round the north side of the park in a pipe. The Long Water is now fed from a borehole.


  1. I may repeat myself, but I love reading your descriptions of the architectural features and their history so much.

    The Foolish Coot looks for all the world like King Théoden defending the Hornburg against masses of orcs. Or one gull.

    Poor third Wagtail :-( Death there must be, but there is something so intrinsically **wrong** in the notion of a dead bird.

    1. But the gull looks more like a king, and the Coot looks more like an orc. It's a matter of viewpoint.