Saturday 11 November 2017

The five Black Swans are now happily together at the east end of the Serpentine. It seems that yesterday's standoffish behaviour by the adult was just to show the newly arrived teenagers who's the boss. When one of the young ones flaps its wings, you can see that the white flight feathers have black tips. Next year's set will be pure white, the sign of a mature Black Swan.

A Cormorant, still with the pale front of an immature bird, dried its wings on one of the rafts.

A short way up the shore, a Great Crested Grebe was looking for fish under the concrete edge of the lake.

A success story: the pair of Moorhens that nested at the Vista have managed to bring all their five chicks through to adulthood. Here is the whole family together.

A male Tufted Duck stretched a wing and a leg.

The Egyptian Goose whose foot was trapped in wire was walking a bit more easily today, though still limping. He had taken the weight off his sore foot by lying down in the grass in the Diana fountain enclosure, but had to stand up when a Carrion Crow started pestering him.

The white-faced female Blackbird is now back to her daily routine of waiting for me to give her sultanas. She has got through a 400 gram packet and I must buy some more.

Wet fallen leaves offer Blackbirds a rich selection of worms and bugs.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what gardeners hate, and the invention of the powered leaf blower has made it possible to tidy leaves up efficiently. As a result, by park's population of Blackbirds has crashed by an appalling 90 per cent over the last 50 years. I have tried to reason with the park management to stop blowing leaves in the shrubberies, but they won't listen.

Near the fountain in the Rose Garden, a Dunnock ...

... and a Robin ...

... are now coming out of the flower beds to be given pine nuts. But it doesn't compensate for the feeder that used to support them, which some vile person stole whenever it was replaced.

The enormous Caucasian elm in the Rose Garden dwarfed a pair of Egyptian Geese.

Many exotic trees were planted in the park in the 19th century. Now the management have gone all ecologically correct and are planting native trees almost exclusively, which is righteous but a pity in a way.

Even on a drizzly Saturday, visitors come to feed the Rose-Ringed Parakeets, and there was a throng of the birds in the trees at the bottom end of the leaf yard.

This is a relief to me, because when I go there on weekdays and no one is feeding the parakeets, I get mobbed by them.

The female Little Owl near the Henry Moore sculpture was out on a branch of her lime tree, as usual high up, masked by leaves and very hard to photograph.


  1. It's great to see the black swan with companions finally.
    Thanks very much Ralph for continuing to do this daily blog, it's much appreciated.

  2. Very happy to see that our Black Swan has taken kindly to the newcomers! I so hope they will stay and be one big hapy family, or at least colony.

    So sorry about the Blackbird populationn crash, If English gardeners do not care about them, what hope is there for the rest of us?

    1. Although there has been a slow decline in the Blackbird population as a whole due to intensive agriculture, numbers have increased again in recent years, and they have always been one of the commonest garden birds. This makes the crash in the park all the more shocking.

    2. I don't think you can blame the gardeners- they are just doing what they are told to do. It is the people above who are to blame.

    3. Indeed. The gardeners have always been sympathetic to my point of view.

  3. Lovely video of the Black Swans.

    Seems a contradiction in ecological management where they plant only native trees (important to have some but some ornamentals in a park are welcome too) + then removing leaves in the shrubbery which will improve soil condition as they decompose, providing habitat for fungi + many invertebrates + in turn food for amphibians, Hedgehogs + birds like the Blackbird. Have you spoken to the Royal Parks ecology officer to advise park managers?

    1. Yes, I have, often. But the Royal Parks ecologists seem to have no influence on the management. People hire ecologists when they have wrecked the ecology, to divert blame, and then don't listen to them.