Monday 25 June 2012

The Great Crested Grebes nesting on the Serpentine island have taken their chicks out of the nest, and they were being carried on their mother's back. Prudently, she had kept behind the wire baskets that surround the island, and it was impossible to count the chicks, let alone take a photograph. Their father, just relieved from his carrying duties, was out in the lake washing off the mess and getting himself comfortable before he went fishing.

He managed to catch several very small fish, which is encouraging both for grebes and for people worried about the state of the lake.

On the other side of the lake, an Egyptian Goose was also having a bath.

The Coots nesting on a bottle crate under the sill of the Dell restaurant have four chicks. Although there were several Lesser Black-Backed Gulls cruising around hopefully, the overhanging concrete ledge was enough to keep them safe. A gull would have to fly over a Coot's nest to snatch a chick; if it went in on the surface the angry parents would see it off.

Often when I walk past the Serpentine Gallery, I see a large female Sparrowhawk heading southwest; she seems to have a daily routine. Today her travel plan was disrupted when a couple of Crows went up and chased her, shouting hoarse insults. She left in a hurry.


  1. Thank you so much for another installment of 'Life in the Parks' to cheer me up. I have just got back from a demanding day's work, dealing with a break-in at my elderly cousin's house in Woking. Is there a way of telling the male from the female Egyptian Goose, apart from the differing roles they seem to assume as parents?

  2. Sorry to hear about the break-in.

    Distinguishing the sex of Egyptian Geese is quite difficult for humans, although the birds themselves have no trouble (unlike true geese and grebes, where embarrassing mistakes are common). If they have young, the young ones will follow their mother. They are 'imprinted' on her, because she is the first thing they see when they emerge from the egg.

    Normally the plumage of the sexes is the same. There are two pairs of Egyptian Geese in the park where the female doesn't have the usual brown eye patch, but this seems to be mere chance. Males are slightly larger on average. Males have a quieter quack; females quack very noisily when repelling threats to their young. But males have a courtship display in which they honk loudly, a different kind of sound.