Tuesday 12 March 2013

A bright day with a sharp wind. The sunlight brought out the lovely iridescence of a male Starling's plumage.

You can tell he is male from the blue base to his beak; on a female this would be pinkish. This bird, who has a BTO ring on his right leg, has been hanging around the leaf yard for several years trying to grab the food from my hand when I am feeding the small birds. Experience has taught him that if he comes in over my shoulder I won't see him till it's too late, so in he dives, scattering the food and often pecking a hole in my hand. I try vainly to discourage these raids, but the wily bird knows that he will always get through in the end.

This Tufted Duck, under the willow tree next to the Italian Garden, looks as if she was nesting.

She isn't. It's a Coots' nest, and she was just trying it out in the absence of the tenants. Tufted Ducks nest on land anyway.

The pair of Mandarins who have been under the willow tree on the east side of the Long Water are still there. If they decide to nest, it will be in a tree hole -- a good secure spot, but as when the ducklings emerge they will have a perilous trek to the water, and will be exposed to the ravenous gulls at all times. It is rare for any to survive on the Long Water, though they have a much better breeding record in the Regent's Canal.

Here another young creature takes a risk. This naive little rabbit wandered unconcernedly through a grim line of three Grey Herons that were hunting for rats in the shrubbery.

Fortunately the herons decided that it had grown a little too large to swallow, and left it alone.

On the edge of the Serpentine, a Pied Wagtail was strolling around as the choppy waves broke on the shore, casually trotting out of harm's way when the water surged too near.

Still no sign of a Tawny Owl. But owl pellets are turning up at the base of the nest tree, at least showing that it is occupied.


  1. Wonderfully detailed blog as always Ralph. I wonder if the 'blue for a boy, pink for a girl' concept comes from the starling's beak markings? AmandaB

    1. This colour convention seems to be deeply ingrained in human culture. I just read that when a baby had been born to one of the women in the harem of the imperial Ottoman court, it was carried around in a procession for all to see, and if it was a boy there was a blue tassel on the cradle, and if it was a girl there was a red tassel. I doubt whether the old Turks knew or cared about the sex of Starlings.