Thursday 10 January 2013

The return of cold weather has caused the Great Crested Grebes at the Serpentine outflow to lose interest in nesting. Their young one is back with them, and here -- in a rather distant shot -- it is chasing off a Black-Headed Gull that was waiting to seize its food.

On the Long Water, another pair of Grebes were dancing. But I am sure that they will not try making a nest while it remains cold.

I met Des McKenzie, who reported a male Teal on the Long Water. I went round again to try to spot it, without success. Probably it was lurking under a bush. Des reckons that there are two of the odd hybrid ducks that look like female Scaups, and quite possibly a real female Scaup as well. So far all the photographs I have taken seem to be of the same bird, but I will stay on the lookout.

A large number of Mute Swans came down to the lake from the Round Pond, and I saw half a dozen flying in as I arrived. The maximum number on the Serpentine was about 55. The result of this overcrowding was a good deal of threat display, and a few chases.

Later, some of the swans flew back to the Round Pond. It is not a very exciting place, but at least you don't get beaten up by your superiors.

There was a momentary truce between three Robins because they were hungry and wanted to take food from my hand.

After all of them had taken several pine nuts, hostilities resumed as normal and they dispersed to sing menacingly at each other from their territories.

There are a lot of Canada--Greylag hybrid geese on the lake, some more having arrived with the winter influx of Greylags, of which there are over 200 in the park at the moment. Here five of them come down to the water, with an ordinary Greylag in the middle and the usual mob of Egyptian Geese in the background.

The hybrids congregate with Greylags because they are all the result of a male Canada Goose mating with a female Greylag. They newly hatched goslings 'imprint' on their mother and regard themselves as Greylags, and are accepted by the other Greylags. The hybrids are almost certainly sterile, so they are all first-generation crosses.

The male Tawny Owl was again sitting in the place where the female owl was until recently. I am almost sure that she has started nesting, and won't be seen again for a couple of months.

Update: Des clarifies the information about hybrid ducks -- and the real Scaup has left. But more importantly, someone has probably seen -- and I think I may have heard -- a Bearded Tit in the reedbed near the Diana memorial fountain. See the comments on this post for further information. A Bearded Tit is a fairly large tit with a long tail. It is brown; males have blue heads. See the RSPB page on this bird for a picture, description and audio clip.


  1. Hi Ralph, shame you didn't see the Teal. I was on my second circuit before I came across it. Like you suggest, probably lurking. Re: hybrids: I would describe only one bird as resembling Scaup - larger than Tufted Duck, rounded head, white patches at base of bill. However bill pattern far more suggestive of Pochard, perhaps Scaup x Pochard. The other appears to be Pochard x Tufted Duck (tiny residual crest, Pochard-like bill). I'm confident that the Scaup from Jan 1st has departed, last reported on the 2nd. To my knowledge both tbe hybrids have been present since mid Dec, though I don't see them on every visit. Exciting news however: two Bearded Tit were seen by a reliable observer in the Diana Memorial reedbed on Dec 11th, one of which was rung! This would constitute not only a park first but also the first record for Inner London. Will be there a.m. and will leave message here should I refind the Teal.

    1. Many thanks for the information. I was passing the reedbed near the Diana memorial at about 3.30 pm and heard a regular chirp that I couldn't identify, nor could I see anything in the reeds. I have compared it with the Bearded Tit sound clip at
      and I think I actually heard one of the birds. Will keep an eye out for them, of course.

  2. Ralph, 2 female Bearded Tit showing well in Diana reedbed - Lido end - 07:50. Hope you manage a photo.