Tuesday 30 June 2015

A Magpie, perched traditionally on a stump, was feeling the heat.

A Wood Pigeon was cooling off in a puddle.

Charlie the Carrion Crow had plunged into the Long Water, and was shaking himself dry on a willow tree.

The Mute Swans who were nesting on the island in the Long Water have deserted their nest for no reason that I can see. They have not been on it for several days. I was hoping that I had just chanced to pass by when they were taking a break, but there is no doubt now. This island seems to bring misfortune to the swans that use it. However, these Canada Geese nested there successfully, and they have now reclaimed it and were taking their ease next to the abandoned swan eggs.

Remarkably, the pair of foolish Egyptian Geese on the Long Water have kept two of their young alive for a week now, the longest they have ever managed in the decade they have been here -- they were the first pair of Egyptians to arrive in the park. Can they break the jinx?

The Coots nesting directly under the parapet of the Italian Garden have at least three eggs.

It is another wet nest site, since it is next to one of the waterspouts at the side of the marble fountain.

The male Little Owl was back in the chestnut tree where the pair nested.

We don't know whether they bred successfully. They are very good at keeping their young out of sight.

A Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly was taking a rest on a twig in the water near Peter Pan.

And a Common Blue damselfly was hunting over the water at the east end of the Serpentine.

Only damselflies can fold their wings; those of dragonflies are fixed in a spread position. But both damselflies and dragonflies fold up their legs when flying to reduce drag. So the retractable undercarriage dates back 325 million years, to the time when these insects first appeared. Some early dragonflies were huge. The largest -- and the biggest insect that has ever lived -- was Meganeuropsis permiana, which had a wingspan of 28 in (710 mm) and was 17 in (430 mm) in length. Here is a picture of a life-size reconstruction of this mighty creature by the biologist and artist Leandro Sanches da Costa.


  1. The hyperoxic conditions of period resulted in increased air density with the concomitant increase in buoyancy that allowed the evolution of these giant insects. Interestingly the increase in oxygen based free radicals from such an atmosphere is thought to have sparked the evolution of biochemical pathways needed to deal with the toxic effects of these free radicals.

    1. Is this the official wisdom now? I've seen it advanced as speculation, but that was before people started doing clever things with isotopes. Also, is oxygen, only one place beyond nitrogen in the periodic table, heavy enough to make any difference to buoyancy?