Monday 22 April 2013

For several days there has been a large crowd of Herring Gulls on the Serpentine -- at least 80 of them. Most of them are last year's birds, still with speckled plumage. I think they are all Herring Gulls rather than lesser Black-Backed Gulls, as they stay together and some of them are into their second year and beginning to grow pale grey adult feathers, like the one at the back here.

Eight more Great Crested Grebes have arrived on the lake, bringing the total to about 20. You could tell that they were newly arrived because they were sitting peacefully together in the water. In a day or two they will have started breaking up into pairs and bickering about territories, of which there are not enough on the lake for birds that like to claim a wide area.

One pair of grebes -- an established pair -- has made a nest in a new place on the northeast corner of the Serpentine island, behind the wire baskets of water plants. It doesn't look a very secure site but, as you can see, they have made quite a large nest by grebe standards, and evidently mean to stay there.

As with the Great Crested Grebes by the bridge, their is a Coots' nest awkwardly near. But perhaps the slight danger to the chicks from Coots is outweighed by the Coots' aggressive attacks on predators that threaten them both, such as Grey Herons. Coots will go for anything, and even the huge Mute Swans nesting in the reeds by the Italian Garden have been harassed by Coots that wanted to nest there.

In the hazel thicket across the path from the leaf yard, a Blue Tit was industriously pecking leaf buds apart. I think it was looking for insects inside rather than wanting to eat the young leaves, but tits are omnivores and it's impossible to be sure.

One the other side of the Long Water, a Blackbird had gathered as many worms as he could carry, and flew off to give them to the nestlings.

Two visits to the Flower Walk and one to the Tawny Owls' nest tree failed to reveal any owls, and no one else seems to have spotted these elusive birds today.


  1. After much spine-twisting and eye-crossing, i finally managed to spot three(?)owlets near the top of a tall leafy tree on the opposite side of the path to the California Bay tree. Tree is about 50 ft to the west and opposite the blossom/yew trees - although i guess they'll probably have helpfully vanished again by tomorrow!! JB

  2. Many thanks. It's useful to know that the owls have started going to the other side of the path. From memory, I think this tree is an ilex.

    1. In the late afternoon I saw an adult in the usual California laurel. By the way, to help you with the identification of the trees in the flower walk, the bigger and more openly branched one to the East of the California laurel (where the parent owls used to seat when first spotted) is a Quercus ilex (olm oak)(grey and hairy leaf undersides); while the one on the West side, less tall, and surronded by a flowering cherry and a yew, is a Laurus nobilis (bay laurel). On the other side of the path, on the bed nearer the side of the park, there is another bigger olm oak. Hope it helps.

    2. Many thanks for the clarification. I am not at all good at trees.