Tuesday 25 April 2017

The Grey Herons in the top nest on the island have three chicks, if you can call these gawky creatures chicks.

Virginia photographed a strange moment yesterday when a third adult heron flew down and stood in the nest with the parents. This bird has been watching the nest from a nearby tree for some time.

The Mistle Thrushes nesting to the east of the Dell have at least one fledgling. Here it is demanding food from a parent.

A Blackcap sang in the Rose Garden.

So did a Coal Tit, waiting for a turn at the feeder.

A Chaffinch was singing near the Triangle car park.

A Long-Tailed Tit carrying a feather to its nest paused in a red maple tree in the North Flower Walk.

(That's the official name of the railed-off area on the north edge of the park west of the Italian Garden, but it's more shrubs than flowers.)

In the Italian Garden, a Starling perched on the shoulder of one of the weathered nymphs that pour water from urns into the lake.

They aren't goddesses, because the deity of the Westbourne seems to be male. His face, with an expression of utter misery, is carved on the keystone of the central arch of the loggia. The peculiar building to the northeast of the garden, with a wood-panelled apse containing a semicircular bench, is technically a nymphaeum. There's a house at the back of it where presumably the nymphs live when they're off duty.

The Grey Wagtail was on the Lido again.

The male Little Owl near the leaf yard was looking out of his hole. It was a chilly morning with a brisk wind, and he wasn't tempted to come farther out.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gulls haven't been seen with any recent kills in their usual place near the Dell restaurant. Evidently the pigeons here are getting warier. But today he had got another victim, and was sharing it with his mate.

A Mute Swan was stranded on the path near Peter Pan, probably chased off the water by the dominant male. I led her back to the nearest place where she could get back on the water, at the Vista, which was a bit of a hike for a swan but she came along willingly enough. As soon as she was on the lake again she ran into opposition from a bumptious teenager, but at least she could escape now.

We've already had a photograph showing how Coots are fascinated by swan's eggs, and here's another to reinforce the point. Fran sent me this pleasing picture of two of them admiring the five enormous eggs in the nest near the Diana landing stage.

The Egyptian Goose at the Round Pond which Virginia photographed back in her nest tree has not settled down there yet. Today she was with the goslings again, shepherding them to the water when a dog approached.

A Mandarin turned up at Peter Pan and was chased by a Red-Crested Pochard.

In the Rose Garden, a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee made the most of a sunny spell.


  1. I really enjoy your descriptions of architecture and buildings. You have such a way of making it relevant and interesting. Wonderful picture of the nymph with the starling, pirate parrot-like, on her shoulder.

    I would have loved to see a video of yours shepherding the swan off back to safety. Was it docile, or stubborn?

  2. **your shepherding, not yours. Glucose-deprived brain.

    1. I only had to wave at the swan and she lumbered along the path with me at her side. It was like taking a very old dog for a walk.

    2. I would have loved to see that. Would it be possible next time?

    3. If there is a next time. I can take video fairly easily on my smartphone, though obviously the big camera with the long lens is unsuitable for such occasions.

  3. Was the third heron a female looking for a family to raise perhaps?

    1. If so, a very odd way of going about it. There are plenty of unmated herons some of which must be male, and many spare trees on the island. Also, three baskets for heron nests have been set on trees beside the Long Water, and have produced no interest at all.

  4. could the coots be the culprits of the missing swan egg recently? and the male heron invading another nest? hard to see this as anything other than hostile intent.

    1. Well, two eggs have now been found several feet away from that nest, both on the uphill side, both originally intact but broken later. I suppose Coots could just have levered them out and moved them, but it would have been a real strain and I can't see why they would have bothered. And, as you say, an intrusion by another male Grey Heron seems likely. But they weren't fighting -- because there were chicks underfoot?

    2. The Mute Swan is a native species in the UK so it's an offence to take eggs of wild Mute Swans. It carries a fine. People who commit acts of destroying nests, stealing eggs etc. know this and make sure they are not being watched. At night, no-one (who would contact the police) is watching. It's so difficult to catch people responsible for acts such as shooting a swan with a crossbow in Cheltenham, let alone for vandalising nests.