Monday, 29 May 2017

When I passed the raft at the east end of the Serpentine this morning, the Mute Swans only had four cygnets -- three were missing.

The male of the pair was at the other end of the raft, circling angrily in competition with another male.

I didn't know what had happened. But Virginia had been there earlier and had seen the end of the events. The fourth cygnet was by itself on a raft, being harassed by some other swans. It had a cut on its head.

Its father rescued it and shepherded it back to the others ...

... and it was reunited with them, confused but alive.

She thinks they had been attacked by foxes. A fox would be perfectly capable of swimming out to the raft.

The swan family on the Long Water were on the gravel bank, next to the Mandarin with her ducklings.

Near the small boathouses, another swan barged ashore in the middle of the Greylag nursery, to the displeasure of the geese.

All the Canada goslings except for the solitary eldest one were being looked after by one pair of adults, with the lookout scanning the horizon for danger.

Virginia reports that there is now another brood of five Greylags, and also that the swans at the end of the Lido now have three cygnets, possibly with more to come, though she couldn't get a picture as the gates of the Lido swimming area were being shut for the day's paid session.

A Great Crested Grebe on the nest on the Long Water has having a faceoff with a Coot.

The young Grey Heron at the island was sitting on a post, looking goofy as young herons tend to.

One of the Grey Wagtails nesting near the bridge caught an insect.

The young Long-Tailed Tits are beginning to look a bit more grown up.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was shifting uneasily on his branch ...

... because there was a Magpie staring up at it from a lower branch.

A last bit of drama -- the tip of a squirrel's tail found by a visitor. But we shall never know the story of the squirrel's narrow escape.


  1. Hi Ralph,

    looking at the cygnet, could it be an attack by a herring gull? Perhaps it picked its head but managed to drop him back into the water. If it was a fox the fox would have got him once in its mouth. Just my theory. Herring gulls do have very sharp beaks..

  2. I think you are right about the gull attacking the poor little cygnet... possibly a fox took the 3 missing siblings overnight.

    1. Indeed. Herring Gulls wouldn't take three cygnets in quick succession.

  3. I could see the two coots with the implausible nest next to the bridge today, but no chick - has it fallen to a gull or a fox? I did not expect it to last long originally, but it seemed big enough now to survive.

    1. It's been missing for two days, and I fear it's gone.

  4. Is the cygnet's wound severe? Can it be rescued and rehabilitated if it is?
    Sad news today... I understand and accept that foxes have mouths to feed as well, but I wish it were not with birds.

  5. We have gray squirrels in California and I have seen dead ones scavenged over night, and only the tail left behind, as if the scavenger just didn't seem to think it was worthwhile.

  6. It's quite possible that the tail arrived in that way. It was just found after the event. I was thinking of The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, of course.