Wednesday 15 May 2013

On a chilly day, the Egyptian family were huddled up for warmth on the side of the Serpentine.

The numerous Swifts and the smaller group of House Martins hunting over the lake had been joined by some Swallows, and the aerial ballet as they competed for prey was a wonderful sight. All three species were skimming low over the water, and you could occasionally see one of them seizing an insect from the surface. Here are two Swallows with one of the House Martins, clearly showing the difference in markings and the long tail streamers of the Swallow.

And here a Swift zips past a dozing Great Crested Grebe.

There were six grebes sitting peacefully together on the Serpentine, looking as if they had newly arrived. I was in a bit of a hurry and didn't have time to do a proper count, but if they really are new arrivals the number will have gone up to 28. Grebes are already nesting in places that have never been used before, such as the reed beds along the south side of the Serpentine.

I saw this Song Thrush a few days ago pulling up worms and eating them itself, and supposed that it wasn't one of a nesting pair. That was probably a mistake. Today it attacked a Magpie and then chased off a Carrion Crow, pursuing it over 100 yards away, before it came back, looking rather pleased with itself, and returned to the worm hunt.

The pair of Nuthatches in the leaf yard are turning up reliably whenever I go there to feed the small birds. So far no one has quite managed to get them to come to their hand to be fed, but we think it is only a matter of time. They are already showing interest in a proffered handful of pine nuts, but don't quite dare to land and sheer off at the last moment.

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