Monday 5 August 2013

The long running soap opera of the Great Crested Grebes had another episode today, with a new nest on the east side of the Long Water just north of the Vista. Here it is, taken from too far away for a good picture.

Another pair were displaying to each other opposite Peter Pan before cruising off side by side to look for nesting places under the willow trees. Maybe nothing will come of either attempt, but it is not too late: grebes have nested here at this time before and raised young. Meanwhile, the nest of the northeast corner of the Serpentine island is still occupied. These are the birds who raised the one and only chick this year -- which I have not seen for several days; I hope it's all right. The nest is extremely difficult to see because it is behind the line of floating plant baskets. These baskets drift slowly from side to side in the sluggish current, and you have to wait till the gap passes in front of the nest.

The Mandarin still has her four ducklings and had taken them on to the Serpentine, where she stood on the edge contemplating her brood with visible satisfaction.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was nearby, bit fortunately seemed more interested in pursuing pigeons, with no success while I watched.

Here is today's shot of the black and white Mallard and her pale mate, who is now in total eclipse. At a casual glance you would think that she is the drake and he is female, but the yellow bill shows who is who. The black and white duck, being female, stays the same colour all the time. Both of them have moulted their flight feathers and are waiting for new ones to grow.

On the Italian Garden pond, one of the three teenage moorhens was eating small parasites off a sibling.

I also saw them amicably sharing a bit of bread, one bird eating each end. And they are swimming about among the younger brood without any conflict with them or with their parents. It is a more peaceful scene than one usually sees in the unsentimental and often harsh world of birds.


  1. as you say ralph, it is harsh in the bird world, especially this time of year. bird on bird violence is quite shocking sometimes. i have to look away. terrible what hormones can do!? rather like the stags in richmond park who are sworn enemies in rutting season then go back to being mates hanging out together the rest of the year.
    last year i looked up to see a gull gripping a chick with its feet which was complaining bitterly. nature - red in tooth & claw indeed.
    Mark W2

  2. I loved the study of the Mandarin family. Thank you.