Tuesday 17 May 2016

The Mute Swan who has become stepmother to a Canada gosling was turning her own eggs, perhaps puzzled by them not having hatched yet when a baby has been out for three or four days. The little bird is running around on the island, reasonably safe in the long grass.

Jorgen pointed out that the parents of this gosling had settled on the nest on the little island and were almost imemdiately driven off by the swans -- as we now know, after having laid one egg. Then they settled on the tern raft and laid another four eggs. Therefore the sole survivor from the brood on the raft is a sibling of the one on the island, although all the birds are quite unaware of this. Here it is on the Serpentine, beside a Coot family.

Another pair of Coots were passing the time by chasing each other.

The Black Swan was on the Long Water, and stood on the gravel bank along with the usual motley crew who have made this their resting place. I didn't see his girlfriend there.

The Great Crested Grebes nesting under the bushes at the east end of the Serpentine island may be hatching their eggs. The sitting bird had its wings raised in that posture that grebes adopt when they have babies on their backs.

There were several Grey Wagtails. This is the young one from last year, looking for insects on the shore near the Lido. It is just beginning to develop the black bib of adult plumage.

The parents of the new fledgling were in the Dell, catching insects over the waterfall.

This bird's dashing flight, with its yellow tail streaming behind it like a banner, and its love of running water, have earned it some picturesque names. In Spanish it is known as Lavendera de cascada, 'laundress of the waterfall'. In French it is Bergeronette des ruisseaux, which I suppose means 'little shepherdess of the brooks'. In Italian it is Ballerina gialla, 'yellow dancer'. The Dutch call it Grote gele kwikstaart, 'great yellow quicksilver tail'.

Also in the Dell, a Wren was gathering mown grass for a nest.

Another Wren was looking on. Male Wrens have several mates and build a separate nest for each of them.

On the shore of the Serpentine,  a Carrion Crow was finishing off the carcase of a pigeon left by the notorious Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

Another was drinking in the marble fountain of the Italian Garden.

The male Little Owl in the chestnut tree was glaring furiously at a Magpie which was harassing him.


  1. I've finally seen a Little Grebe, near Lymington in a small reed surrounded pool near the sea's edge. Naturally I was delighted. Just as delightful was the selection of Lapwings also available for viewing in the early morning sunshine!

  2. Ralph, you are such a lovely writer! You make the birds feel like familiar characters. This is an amazing story about the Canada gosling ending up in the swan family, while a sibling is on the lake too, with its Canada parents.

    1. Thank you. They are familiar characters to me, from daily observation.

  3. Always a pleasure to find such an oasis of tranquility.

    1. Though in the House of Commons they don't actually eat each other.