Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Grey Herons' nest on the island has collapsed under the weight of two adults and three large young jumping about in it. The herons don't seem to be bothered, and the young were due to leave soon anyway. An adult and two young were jammed together in the remains of the top, and the other young bird was climbing around on the bottom.

The Coots' nest on the basket near the bridge unexpectedly has a second chick in it, several days after the first, leaving one unhatched egg.

Probably Coots know when their eggs are live in the later stages of hatching when the chicks start stirring in the shell, and it's quite possible that the third one will hatch. Amazingly, the ever present gulls don't seem to have grabbed any.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull is now back near the Dell restaurant after several weeks of absence, and has succeeded in catching a Feral Pigeon every one of the last three days. Here he makes an unsuccessful lunge at one. He will have got one eventually.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island were both preening. The female, carrying the chicks, fed one of them a feather which had come loose -- both adults and young eat feathers to wrap up sharp fishbones and avoid injury to their insides.

The male, who had been carrying the chicks before, had a good wash to clean and settle his feathers.

Grebes' wings get very tatty from being used as a playpen, and they moult and regrow them in the autumn.

There are still three Mallard ducklings. The family may be seen on either side of the bridge.

Yesterday Tom found where a pair of Nuthatches from the leaf yard are nesting, in a plane tree near the Physical Energy statue, and took this good picture of the pair.

The two young Mistle Thrushes were flying around the grass on the east of the Dell, calling to their parents of feed them. One found a small grub in the bark of a tree.

A Starling at the Lido restaurant picked up a feather and carried it away to its nest.

There was a Dunnock in a tree near the bridge.

This pair of Great Tits have taken to perching on an urn in the Italian Garden when they see me, and calling for food. The female is vibrating her wings, as both females and young do when begging to be fed.

Two Carrion Crows were wrestling on the tarmac near the Dell restaurant, where there is now a large mob of crows.

We are very lucky to be still seeing the Little Owl near the leaf yard. Yesterday evening a group of photographers came to his tree and I am told that they acted appallingly, letting off flashguns in his face, playing owl calls continuously on smartphones, and pursuing him from tree to tree until he took refuge in the leaf yard. This is not the way that proper birdwatchers behave.

Two rather bad pictures now of birds too far away. I went to the Round Pond to try for pictures of House Martins, and got a Sand Martin instead. They are not often seen in the park.

A Sparrowhawk passed high over Kensington Gardens.

Just before it vanished behind a tree, there was a cry and a momentary glimpse of it being attacked by a small falcon, probably one of the Hobbies that come to the park -- one was seen a few days ago.

A Holly Blue butterfly rested on a bramble leaf near the bridge.


  1. Ralph, can you please look at my May 5 question (posted late). I am interested because of what you say about the sparrowhawk and hobby today. Thanks Lida

    1. Sorry not to have answered this before. I think the Sparrowhawk was simply pursuing its prey, and went behind something so you couldn't see it from the street. They nest in trees, not buildings.

    2. Are the Crows playing at mock-wrestling? That is something I would expect of lion cubs,but not of crows!

      I didn't know that Great crested Grebes ate feathers. I always learn something new in your blog.

    3. Not sure whether it's play or a real fight. But it only lasted for a few seconds until one flew away.

  2. There is a spectacular array of Sand-Martins at the Barnes Wetland Centre (probably because there's an artificial sandstone 'cliff' filled with handy apertures provided by the management); but the high points of my Saturday visit were both seen for free when walking in from Putney - a male Garganey in flight over the Thames (why are there so few of these about, I wonder?) and then, swimming near the edge of the river, a pair of Mandarin Ducks, of which the female was leucistic - not albino, she had dark eyes and some colouration on some secondary feathers (so I suppose technically 'diluted', in the curious phrase the BTO employ). Strange to be able to see all the varied and pleasing texturing of her plumage without being distracted by chroma.

  3. Thanks for the information. I think the reason why the rarer ducks are less seen now here is that they are going to the Wetland Centre and Rainham Marshes. Very interesting about the leucistic Mandarin. Have never seen one.