Sunday 20 December 2015

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were building a nest under the willow tree near the bridge.

I'm sure they don't have any serious intention of nesting. They are just playing.

The Black Swan was at the terrace of the Dell restaurant with his girlfriend and some other Mute Swans, and all seemed peaceful. Then the girlfriend's brother appeared through the gap in the rafts of water plants. The Black Swan immediately headed for him and pushed him right up the lake as far as the landing stage by the Diana fountain, which is where this picture was taken.

It wasn't a rapid chase -- I could keep up with them the whole way, and in fact the Black Swan stopped en route to take a biscuit from me. It was more like a night club bouncer escorting an unwanted guest to the door. They have done this many times before, and the brother knows that he will have to go to avoid a fight. It seems that the Black Swan considers the brother a rival rather than simply a family member who hangs around where he isn't wanted.

Two Herring Gulls were having a noisy dispute about which one had a right to stand on the platform of Bluebird Boats. There were fifty smaller gulls -- Black-Headed and Common -- on the platform, which were ignored. But, as a Herring Gull thinks, there is only room for one Herring Gull here.

On the other side of the lake, another Herring Gull was playing the traditional game of pushing a round stone up the sloping concrete edge and letting it roll down again.

The Black-Headed Gull who, as we now know, has migrated all the way from Reading was preening on a post at the Vista.

Under the line of posts, a female Pochard gave me a serious stare. They have beautiful markings in a quiet way.

The odd couple of a Canada-Greylag hybrid and a Greylag were together on the shore of the Lido swimming area. The hybrid is not the sibling of the goose that is unsteady on its feet. According to someone who has been watching them closely for years, the six hybrids that regularly visit the lake belong to three different broods.

All three Coal Tits in the leaf yard came down to be fed. Even in this mild weather the small birds are very hungry, a sign that the supply of insects is drying up. Now is the time when they really need feeding to get through the winter.

There was a Wren in a bush on the other side of the Long Water. There are several families of them along this side of the lake, where the fenced-off shrubbery provides a quiet home.

And its Christmas partner was on a nearby bush. The tradition is easy to understand: Robins and Wrens are the most noticeable small birds at this time of year (unless you are in the habit of feeding tits, so that they come out in mobs when they see you).


  1. The House Sparrows in my neighbourhood are starting to follow me whenever they catch a glimpse of me (I always carry with me a small bag of bread crumbs for them). They jump from tree to tree until I stop and give them the goods. Up until a week ago or so they didn't pay me much mind, but now they are getting really hungry and thus bold. They need that little extra help, poor things.

    1. I envy you having House Sparrows. They have been absent from central London since 2000, and seeing one here is a major event.

  2. And I in my turn am always amazed by how tame and friendly robins in England are. Ours are skittish and timid, and will never come to the hand, no matter how many times they have seen you. English robins delight me to no end.

    I do have a theory regarding the high number of House Sparrows in most of our towns (they've all but vanished in the largest cities, though - they can be found in parks, but not in the streets). Streets are very dirty, buildings are old and poorly built, and they have plenty to eat and lots of places to nest in.

  3. Tinuviel, out of interest (you may have mentioned before, and I forgot) - where is this?

  4. Hi, Ulrike,
    Mid-western Spain (Extremadura). Something of a bird paradise for bird watchers, if tourism bureau propaganda is to be believed.

  5. What a great observation but presumably the adventure started at the "terrace of the Dell restaurant"?