Friday, 13 July 2018

It was another hot day. A Moorhen on a post at Peter Pan was panting to keep cool.

So was a Mandarin on a branch, although she was in the shade.

A new Mallard family at the bridge has two blond ducklings. Pale Mallards are not uncommon in both sexes and are quite varied in appearance. Virginia suggested that the father of this one might be the white Mallard drake. Certainly he hasn't been seen with his mate recently, so she might have been nesting.

The Tufted Duck family with six ducklings was in the usual place and in good order.

But something has happened to the family with five. Two of the ducklings were alone, not far away from the other family.

Two days ago, when the ducklings were straggling widely on the lake, Virginia saw their mother heading off to the island followed by only three of them. It looks as if she has forgotten about these two. The mother of the other family won't adopt them, and I've seen her chasing them away.

More bad news: two of the Mute Swan cygnets on the Long Water are developing angel wing. So is a Canada gosling on the Serpentine. I've not seen any species other than Egyptian Geese with this deformity in the park before, but it's known to affect many species, not just waterfowl. There are conflicting theories about the cause: some say it's hereditary, others that it's caused by bad diet, especially the white bread that visitors persist in feeding the birds. When it affects only one wing, it's always the left one, which suggests heredity.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge are thriving on the fish that their devoted parents constantly bring them.

Parents remember which chick has been fed last, so the stronger, pushy chicks don't get all the fish. In this sequence showing the same family, a chick comes up to take a fish but the parent holds the fish under water before turning round to feed another chick.

The two chicks on the Long Water were having a quieter time, but they too get fed regularly.

A second Coot nest has gone up on the posts at Peter Pan. There were only Black-Headed Gulls on the posts, which are too small to be dangerous to Coots, but any time a Herring Gull or a Lesser Black-Back feels like eating an egg or a chick it has only to turn up. No Coot nest on these posts has ever succeeded.

A Carrion Crow fed a worm to its large fledgling. The young go on demanding food for a long time, when perfectly capable of finding their own.

A Wood Pigeon settled in a bramble patch and started looking for ripe blackberries.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was in his usual tree.

A White-Tailed Bumblebee was frantically rushing around in a rose. It repeated this with several roses, never slowing down.

Bees are not very keen on the roses in the Rose Garden, which are mostly tight double ones that are hard to get into and probably don't have much pollen or nectar anyway. But a fairly simple rose of a gaudy fuchsia colour attracted a Honeybee.

Small wildflowers, especially purple ones, are more popular. This White-Tailed Bumblebee has got covered with pollen, which is useful to the plant as it will get brushed off on the pistil of another flower and fertilise it.

A Large White butterfly was drinking nectar from the same plant.


  1. I so love bumblebees, so today is a special treat. What is it doing in that white rose? It looks as if it is trying to coat itself completely in pollen.

    Grebes are such good parents. Well, they are model citizens in almost any respect, and as they are much more sensible, prudent, thoughtful, devoted, and intelligent than we are, we'd fare better if government was in their hands (well, webbed feet).

    How terrible about those two abandoned ducklings. Do they have a chance?

    1. I've never seen a bumblebee in such a state of excitement. No idea of what it was trying to do.

      Theoretically the ducklings could survive, as they feed themselves. But their chances are severely reduced. I haven't seen their mother with the three others.

  2. Hi Ralph- the extensive black on the wingtip makes this a Large White. small White never has this extent of black on the wing. Certainly good numbers of all 3 common white species about currently.

    Great the tuftie chicks seem to be flourishing.

  3. It seems that Angel wing is actually treatable:

    1. Yes, but you have to catch your cygnet and rear it in isolation. Our Wildlife Office is terribly overworked, with three parks to look after.