Thursday 21 April 2016

A pair of Magpies were courting near the Henry Moore statue.

Thanks to Africa Gomez' excellent blog, I now know that the one on the right is the female, fluttering her wings and calling to the male to feed her, as he will need to do when she is on the nest. Female Great Tits have a very similar display. It imitates the call and fluttering of young birds begging for food.

The local Little Owl was not showing in his tree, but across the lake the male Little Owl in the chestnut tree was on a high branch ...

... and the one in the oak tree had returned to his usual hole.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were fussing around a nest on the Long Water, seen here across the lake from Peter Pan. Enlarging the image showed that it is a Coot's nest, large and twiggy and much solider than a grebe's nest, and they are intending to steal it.

Usually in these disputes the Coot gets the nest, irrespective of which birds started it. A Great Crested Grebe can always win a fight, but the persistent Coots come back again and again and eventually prevail.

Just along the shore, the terrapin had come out to bask in the sunshine.

It is a Red-Eared Slider, a popular pet species, whose owner irresponsibly dumped it in the lake when it got too large and lost its charm. They eat ducklings -- or at least, the ducklings that the gulls don't get first. There used to be two of these terrapins, and also a Snapping Turtle, on the Long Water, but this seems to be the only one left.

Another pair of grebes were fishing under the pedalos on the Serpentine. Altogether, I think we have 14 of them on the two lakes at the moment: 6 on the Long Water, 8 on the Serpentine.

The Black Swan was with his girlfriend at the east end of the lake, touting for food from visitors. He paused for a moment to preen.

A pair of young Mute Swans were courting nearby.

The Black Swan dislikes displays of affection not directed at him, and moved to break them up. They parted at once, to avoid being rammed by this curmudgeonly bird.

A Goldcrest came out on a tree near Peter Pan.

And the white-faced Blackbird was visible on the other side of the lake. She now comes out to be given bits of digestive biscuit.


  1. What lovely ruffled feathers the Black Swan has! You very happily compared it to a flamenco dancer's ruffled skirt, and I certainly agree.
    Perhaps Aristotle's shadow would be happy to learn of the existence of (partially) white blackbirds!

  2. We've had Blackbirds here with more white on them. There's a picture
    here. Before I started the blog there was a male with so much white that he looked like a little Magpie. The white patches are usually symmetrically arranged.

    1. Oh wow, I had never seen such a colouring in a blackbird before!
      I wonder if sightings of albino Blackbirds might be the origin of Aristotle's notion about white Blackbirds in Mt. Cyllene

    2. It's very possible that there really was a race, or at least a big family, of white Blackbirds on Mt Cyllene. Leucistic Blackbirds can be partly or completely white. They are only slightly less fit than normal ones; they are not albinos, because the genes for eye and skin colour are separate from those for feather colour. But white feathers are less strong than black ones and fray quicker, and these birds are also more visible to predators. If you search Google images for 'white blackbird' you will see lots of examples.

  3. Ralph, maybe the park service should consider removing the red slider from the lake. We, in California, find them over running our local lakes. Right now, the problem might still easily be stopped in the Long Water and Serpentine, perhaps. Or, maybe there is some other limiting factor that we don't have in California. They are assumed to be be released "pets" here too, unfortunately surviving just fine.

    1. Well, yes, it would be a good idea, but you only see the creature occasionally and heaven knows where it spends the rest of the time. However, we used to have three and now there is only one, and it won't last for ever. Let's hope that no one chucks in another one.