Thursday 19 May 2016

The Great Crested Grebes nesting at the east end of the Serpentine island have at least one chick. Sorry about the low quality of this picture of a dark and distant place on a grey day.

The Mandarin at Peter Pan has improbably managed to keep her three chicks alive, next to two dozen Herring Gulls waiting to pounce on them.

There is still no definite sign of cygnets on the little island in the Long Water. The sitting Mute Swan was very restless, which may be a sign that something is happening. She and her Canada stepchild looked at each other in a slightly baffled way.

The Black Swan is spending more and more time on the island by himself.

A Gadwall came down on the Serpentine near the bridge.

Although female Gadwalls look very like Mallards when their wings are folded, when they fly their wings look quite different, with white secondaries instead of blue, and a distinctive reddish-brown patch.

The famous Lesser Black-Backed Gull had killed another Feral Pigeon and was eating it. In a moment of sunlight, the brightness of his yellow bill and legs is quite remarkable. He is recognisable at a considerable distance.

A Magpie was having a vigorous wash at the Lido.

Two young Pied Wagtails were looking for insects on the shore nearby.

There were plenty of Swifts over the Serpentine. Here three of them are passing the reed bed near the Diana fountain.

But it's a poor year for Chaffinches in the park. This one was singing near the Ranger's Lodge.

I only heard one other in several hours.

The Little Owl was harassed by Magpies, and flew over the the chestnut tree where he nested last year. At first I thought this was the female, but it is the male, distinguished by his thicker white eyebrows, and he is looking large because has fluffed himself up with annoyance.

But the Magpies followed him. One of them went into the hollow tree. They may be nesting there, which would explain why the owls have returned to the previous year's nest hole.


  1. Yay, stripey little head!

    That custard-yellow colour on the pigeon-eating Gull is astounding. Physically it is a very remarkable individual, with its colouring and vast size.

    1. The grebe chicks will have a battle to survive. It's too early for there to be enough small fish in the lake to feed them. Usually our grebes can't breed successfully till midsummer or later.

  2. Will the mute swan notice something is more obviously amiss when it has its own cygnets for direct comparison do you think?

    Are there species other than cuckoos which use this laying behaviour as a deliberate tactic?

    Have you captured gulls in the act of predating the little fluffy things Ralph? Maybe there are too many alternative food sources for them to bother as the season progresses.

  3. There are a number of stories of mute swans adopting goslings. Check

    1. Well that's hopeful, especially the Worcester example where they were raised to maturity. It will be interesting to see whether a mixed batch of offspring fare equally well.

    2. As you'll see from Friday's blog post, the experiment has begun.