Thursday 16 May 2013

A pair of young Grey Herons were chasing each other round and round the Long Water. Here they pass the Henry Moore sculpture.

It didn't seem to be the usual attempt by one bird to eject another from its territory. The two looked quite harmonious, and it may have been some courtship ritual.

The Coots in the reed bed next to the Italian Garden continue to resent the presence of the Mute Swans nesting there. Here the female swan looks suspiciously as a Coot creeps up to her huge eggs.

I was expecting her to lunge at the intruder, but she just sat down in a rather pointed way and the Coot retreated.

There was also a good deal of territorial dispute at one of the baskets of twigs next to the bridge, with Great Crested Grebes constantly arriving to fish there and being promptly chased off by the resident grebes. Their speed under water has to be seen to be believed; I would reckon that it is over 10 mph. Meanwhile, on top of the basket, a Grey Heron was prowling around trying unsuccessfully to grab a fish through the wire mesh.

This picture shows the fishing technique: the grebe swims round the edge of the basket and pokes its head through the mesh, trying to dislodge a fish from the twigs.

They were catching quite a lot of small fish only about an inch long and swallowing them without surfacing. This is encouraging, because it shows that there are fish small enough to feed their chicks when these hatch. I saw at least two eggs in the nest at the northeast corner of the island, though it is impossible to get a good view here.

The number of Swifts was well down compared to yesterday, and they have probably moved on to better hunting grounds and roofs where they can nest -- which is the only time when these perennially airborne birds land.

The Nuthatch made a brief appearance at the southwest corner of the leaf yard. Next to this corner there is a big oak tree where a Treecreeper can reliably be seen at the moment.

At the Lido, a Starling was enjoying a wash.


  1. I walked back through the parks from lunch at the Royal Overseas League today. I was alarmed by the sight of an Egyptian Goose with a row of blue, exposed feather follicles where its left wong ought to have been. Have you spotted this one? I was sorry that we have lost the swans' nest in the reed bed by the Lido but rewarded by the sight of a female Mallard with 6 lovely little chicks. I do hope that they all manage stay well protected in that area. I could not summon any interest in my handful of nuts and seeds from the small birds round the leaf yard until I was nearly at the corner, just before the bird feeders. Then dear, faithful Patch emerged and took over the patch, in another sense of the word, chasing off the other Blue Tits, although he did allow the odd Great Tit to feed.

  2. Oh yes, and the Martins (and Swifts and Swallows? I could not distinguish them with my naked eyes) had moved 'inland' tonight, to over our church between the ends of Gloucester and Westbourne Terraces.

    1. Not yet sure whether the eggs in the Mute Swans' nest at the Lido were lost, or simply covered with bits or reed while the female swan was having a break. Inspection tomorrow will show what is going on.

      I saw a small number of Swifts over the north of Kensington Gardens, probably the same ones as you saw over the streets. They are very mobile and simply follow the bugs. Swallows move too, and the ones we see in the park are always temporary visitors. The House Martins are the only hirundine residents in the park, because of their nests on the embassies.

      It is easy to tell a Swift from the other two even at altitude because of their long crescent-shaped wings. They also scream, unlike the others, and the sound carries a long way -- though it may be drowned by traffic noise.