Sunday 24 March 2013

A raw day, but spring continues unstoppably. At the east end of the Serpentine a pair of Egyptian Geese were canoodling among the budding daffodils.

These are almost certainly the two that successfully raised eight young last year. There are only two pairs of Egyptians where the female completely lacks a brown eye patch, and the other one is the hopeless pair on the Long Water who hatch brood after brood and lose them all in a few days.

The Great Crested Grebes under the willow tree by the bridge have repaired their neglected nest with more twigs and plane leaves dredged from the bottom of the lake, and have reoccupied it.

Plane leaves are very slow to decay, because they have a waxy cuticle that makes them waterproof. Since plane trees are abundant in the park, it causes the gardeners trouble because they take so long to rot down into leafmould.

On 25 January I showed two pictures of a young Lesser Black-Backed Gull playing with a ball. Today I saw what might or might not be the same bird playing with a stick.

It kept picking it up and waving it about and dropping it. The stick was obviously inedible, and there was no doubt that the gull was simply amusing itself.

There was a Chiffchaff running along the edge of the Serpentine in just the same way as a wagtail. In fact I thought it was one of the Grey Wagtails when I first saw it. It was harassed by a Pied Wagtail and chased away, and this poor shot is the best I was able to grab in the brief time I had it in view.

I went carefully all over the area where there might be a Tawny Owl family, but could see no sign of them. The Little Owl was also out of sight. Who could blame them for staying indoors in this weather?


  1. Hi Ralph,

    Regarding the gull behaviour, I have seen them do this a lot. As they get a bit older they actually fly up with their "toys" and drop them and chase them down, grabbing them again!


    Andy Sunters

  2. What fun. I must watch for this. I've seen a gull dropping food that is caught by another gull, but this is much more interesting. It seems that gulls, like raptors and corvids, actually enjoy flying and don't just view it as a prosaic way of getting from place to place.

  3. Dear Ralph,

    Here is a link to a montage of same;


    Andy Sunters

  4. I guess I saw the other pair of egyptian geese last Monday then. They have a brood of four this time round. Snapped some lovely photos of them. Hope they won't b lost this time ;)

    1. The pair that have four at the moment are definitely not the ones in the picture on this post, because both parents have normal eye patches. Have just checked a picture of them which I took a couple of days ago. However, the place is the same in both cases -- the fenced-off area of scrubby grass and trees at the southeast corner of the Serpentine.