Monday 29 February 2016

There was a male Siskin in the leaf yard this morning. Tom Bell found it and took this fine picture.

Although these colourful finches are not rare, they are seldom seen in the park.

A pair of Egyptian Geese at the Lido have a family of six.

Usually the survival rate here is better than on the Round Pond. The Egyptians there were down to three chicks this morning.

Eight Mandarins -- five drakes and three females -- turned up suddenly on the Long Water. I managed to get six of them into the same picture. The one on the far left is an immature drake not yet in his improbable full finery.

Probably they flew in from the Regent's Canal, which has a branch extending to nearby Paddington station. They breed successfully on the canal but seldom succeed here, where there are more big gulls and less cover.

A Moorhen in one of the Italian Gardens ponds swam over to the fountain and vanished. A closer look showed it under the spray head of the fountain, and it may be building a nest here -- its mate was on the same pond.

Coots have tried to nest in these sheltered spaces and failed, probably because there is nothing inside to attach a nest to.

The pair of Great Crested Grebes at the east end of the Long Water have abandoned their first attempt at a nest on the side of a raft because they couldn't hook twigs into the wire mesh. They have started a second nest on the end of a raft where Mute Swans have smashed the fence down.

This site is too exposed, and the nest will be destroyed by the waves raised by the next strong west wind.

The Black Swan was on the next raft, chasing off some Mute Swans, after which he started tearing up grass for a nest.

He is currently with girlfriend number one. Yesterday Jorgen saw her getting on to the raft with him. This seems to be the first time either girlfriend has shown interest in a nest site. But remember that these females are too young to breed.

I accidentally disturbed a Green Woodpecker feeding in the grass in the Cockpit (the hollow in the slope just east of the Triangle car park). They are very easy to miss when on the ground. It flew into a tree.

A Treecreeper was hunting for insects in an old chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

Both of the pair of Dunnocks in the leaf yard were visible. This is the male, who was displaying to his mate by flapping his wings.

With such a dull coloured bird, display has to be done entirely by action.

One of the Little Owls near the Albert Memorial was looking out of the hole in the oak tree.

Earlier there had been a pair of Stock Doves walking about on the branch directly over the hole, and the owl was clearly determined not to let them take it.


  1. I'm afraid the Round Pond goslings were down to two when I visited at 2pm today.

    1. Sad but inevitable. No cover, lots of big gulls.

  2. I've been reading (quite furiously) back to learn what's the Black Swan been up to in the last few days. Is he still trying to break up displaying couples? Has his interest in the whiter Girlfriend been affected by her appearance?

    Stuff for moralists, this! I wonder what Aesop would make of it.

    1. It's lucky that birds don't do morals. Or many other things. As Auden wrote in 'The Fall of Rome',

      Unendowed with wealth or pity,
      Little birds with scarlet legs,
      Sitting on their speckled eggs,
      Eye each flu-infected city.

    2. Heinrich Hoffmann might also have had a take on it. Or Proust, of course. Jim n.L.

  3. It seems like we also share favourite poems!

    Regarding morals and birds, have you seen this video?

    The more sober among us will think that the bird is trying to mate with the unmoving bird. But I'll be darned if it doesn't look like the little fellow succeeded in resuscitating a friend.

    1. Hard to tell with the picture that small. I suppose the inert bird had flown into a window and stunned itself.

  4. This 1964 poem by Basil Bunting doesn't seem to be as well-known as it should be by birders, given that it de-sentimentalises so helpfully:

    A thrush in the syringa sings.

    'Hunger ruffles my wings, fear,
    lust, familiar things.

    Death thrusts hard. My sons
    by hawk's beak, by stones, by cat and weasel, die.
    From a shaken bush I
    list familiar things,
    fear, hunger, lust.'

    O gay thrush!

    Harry G.

    1. Yes. But mainly he is telling the other thrushes to shove off, because it's his bush.

  5. Went for a wander on Monday myself and came across an Egyptian Goose at the top of a tree. Granted it was a fairly flat surface for it but Ive never seen one perched quite like this!

    1. Good picture. They do this quite often, in pairs, starting in winter. It's partly a hunt for suitable trees to nest in, but mainly a way of advertising their pair bond and their superiority to other Egyptians.