Tuesday 3 May 2016

Two pairs of Great Crested Grebes were having a territorial fight on the Long Water. It looks ferocious, but mostly it is flapping and wrestling and I have never seen a bird hurt in one of these encounters.

The grebes at the bridge have settled down comfortably after completing their third nest.

The Black Swan was next to Bluebird Boats again with his girlfriend, touting for food. A young Mute Swan came to close and was chased away.

Both of the pair of Grey Wagtails were at the bridge, perching on the posts and chains and leaping out to catch insects. I'm pretty sure that their nest is under the bridge.

The male Little Owl in the chestnut tree was on a high branch. He is a bit nervous at the moment, and flew into his hole when we approached.

The other Little Owls didn't appear, but on the oak tree near the Albert Memorial there was a Goldcrest pulling cobwebs off the bark to line its nest.

A Green Woodpecker appeared again in the plane avenue north of the memorial.

There was a Mistle Thrush in the grass nearby.

This Song Thrush was in a bush near Peter Pan.

And a Long-Tailed Tit was flitting about in the trees near the Henry Moore arch.

There was an interesting sight in Rotten Row: the Household Cavalry practising tentpegging. This is now a competitive sport, but originally it was a military manoeuvre. Just before a cavalry charge into the enemy's camp, half a dozen riders with spears would gallop in and spike out the tentpegs, so that the tents collapsed on the soldiers. Here is the approach, lining up the spear on the peg ...

... and here is a successful operation in which three pegs were removed at once.


  1. Looks like a fine excuse for a game of polo. The likelihood of getting wrapped in guy ropes must have precluded its effective use in serious military engagements though surely?

    1. I think you gallop down between the rows of tents, thus avoiding the guy ropes.

    2. But to catch the tented troops at rest that would have to be in the dark presumably. And half a dozen riders would account for precisely 6 pegs - unlikely to collapse an enemy encampment. Wikipedia remains doubtful about this origin. More likely the technique was used to spear elephants' feet it suggests!

  2. In that Green Woodpecker pic, the close common ancestry of Woodpeckers (Piciformes) to Kookaburras and their allies (Coraciiformes) shows. Jim n.L.

    1. It's a peculiar picture. Quite by chance, you can't see any of the green bits.

    2. Kookaburras are fabulously strange birds, but I've only seen them in captivity.