Saturday 9 April 2016

The pair of Mute Swans were on their nest beside the small boathouse. It is an extraordinarily public place from the point of view of humans, but it is protected by a railing that extends beyond the edge of the water, with the bars close enough together to exclude a small dog. The swans were not troubled by people leaning over the railing to take pictures.

The Black Swan turned up on the Long Water, and sailed over the Vista to be fed. His girlfriend was not far behind.

Their invisibility yesterday was explained by Jorgen, who had seen them making a nest on the west side of the Long Water between the bridge and the Vista. This is a rotten place for a nest, as there are foxes here, and these have probably been breeding and have a hungry family.

The pair of Green Woodpeckers that I saw a few days ago in the plane trees between the Physical Energy statue and the Speke obelisk are nesting. Here one of them excavates the nest hole.

Woodpeckers have shock absorbers for their brain and extra-strong eyelids to avoid damage when pecking wood.

A Starling was taking advantage of a readymade hole in one of the two plane trees next to the small boathouses.

A Little Owl looked out the hole in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial.

A female Blackcap perched on a bramble behind the yew tree on the west side of the Long Water between Peter Pan and the Italian Garden.

She has been seen in this area before, and may be about to nest here.

A Mistle Thrush was looking for worms in the grass on the east side of the Albert Memorial.

Among the birds that came down to the leaf yard railings to be fed were a Nuthatch ...

... a Coal Tit ...

... and a Jay.

A recent post in Africa Gomez' always interesting blog The Rattling Crow explains which of the pair of magpies I saw on Monday is which. It is the female who flutters her wings and calls in these displays.

The students of Imperial College were celebrating the hundredth birthday of their fire engine, still pumping after all these years.


  1. Where can I see the green woodpeckers?
    BTW you might be interested in this photo of a one legged black headed gull from Hyde Park in March. I didn't even notice until I checked it on my camera. I should have taken some more of it.

    1. On the path halfway between Physical Energy and the Speke obelisk, in a plane tree forming part of the avenue framing this path.

      We have at least two one-legged Black-Headed Gulls. They have both been around for several years, so they must be doing OK.

  2. Can't help but think that starlings put their heads to better use on this evidence.

    Always handy to have a lake nearby in the event of an inferno.

  3. Hi Ralph - Recently I came across your blog, and it is a great read. I had never appreciated the amount of life there is in the park. I managed to find the little owls near the Henry Moore sculpture this weekend. I haven't found the ones near the Albert Memorial yet. Would you mind sharing which oak tree they're in? Many thanks.

    1. Thank you.

      From the Albert Memorial, walk north towards the statue of Physical Energy. When the path intersects the bicycle track, turn left and walk along the track for 50 yards, to the next path that crosses it. Right on the near left corner of the crossing is a big oak tree. Look left for a nearby plane tree. Between these two trees is another oak tree, and the owls' hole is in this. Stand under the plane tree and look at this oak. The hole is in a big branch sticking out the right hand side a little above horizontally -- a large round hole in a large round bulge in the branch.

  4. Is it somehow possible to dissuade the Black Swan and the Girlfriend from making their nest in such a dangerous place? It occurs seldom, but a sometimes conservation agents here will remove a particularly foolhardy stork's nest if it is dangerous either to the storks or to people standing under it. It takes a few tries, but they end up getting the message.

    1. It's easy to remove a stork's nest, since it is an actual object. But a swan's nest is just a place where the swans have trashed the ground cover. We also have to remember that the Black Swan's girlfriend is only about 10 months old, and won't be able to breed for a year or more. So all this nesting behaviour is pointless.