Saturday 3 August 2013

On a sunny Saturday there are so many people in the park that it's hard to see much. The Mallard ducklings in the Italian Garden were busily rooting about in the waterlily leaves. You can see some insects on the leaves, but they were paying more attention to the undersides of the leaves, where no doubt there were other small creatures.

It has been an amazingly good year for Mallard ducklings. Not only are there a lot of broods, but far more of them are surviving than usual. This is almost entirely due to the small number of big gulls on the lake. Today I saw only half a dozen Lesser Black-Backs and one Herring Gull, all of them on the Serpentine, away from the Long Water where most of the ducklings are.

The teenage Moorhens in the Italian Garden have discovered that if they climb up the water plants, these will bend over and make a comfortable place for them to rest. They are making rather a mess of the ornamental clumps.

The Hobbies are still in the trees around the Vista on the west side of the Long Water. I heard them calling but, as usual, couldn't find where they were perched. A search for owls also failed to find any.

The five Canada-Greylag hybrid geese have joined up into a gang, and were swaggering about the Serpentine pushing Greylags out of the way. I was surprised to see them acting aggressively, since normally they blend into the Greylag flock and are treated as equals. But something seems to have alienated them. Only three of them, the attractively speckled ones, are siblings, and the others are from two different broods and have been in the park for longer.

The little pool at the top of the waterfall in the Dell, which used to be a bathing and drinking place for small birds, was ruined by gardeners pulling up all the bushes which had sheltered it and substituting ugly annuals. However, it is still used by larger and less timid birds, such as this Wood Pigeon which came down for a bathe.

A young Magpie also came to drink there.

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