Wednesday 20 December 2017

Both the Grey Heron nests on the island are now permanently occupied, with one bird in each and the other standing sentinel on the ground or in the top of a tree.

But there is no sign yet of a third pair returning to rebuild the middle nest, which collapsed during the last breeding season. The herons will fuss around for a long time before they actually start nesting. At present they are really just claiming the site.

The wandering raft is still jammed up against the island. The broken wire fence and pile of uprooted reeds shows that a Mute Swan has been at work here, building a nest that never came to completion. It makes a convenient place for a pair of Canada Geese to browse on the water plants. A strong west wind will set it drifting once more.

There was a swan in one of the fountains in the Italian Garden again.

Their comings and goings are a mystery. There is not enough clear water for them to fly in, let alone out, so they must walk to and from the ponds. But the nearest place where they can get ashore is the Vista, 300 yards away, a long walk for a swan. I have never even seen how they managed to jump up the 18 inch high stone edge of the pool.

The wooden posts at the bridge are a favourite place for Cormorants to dry their wings and preen. But they are also quite hard to get on to.

A Moorhen was pulling up grass and eating it. This is not part of their usual diet. But the secret of Moorhens' success is that they can eat just about anything.

A Great Crested Grebe preened on the Serpentine, a task made easier by having a long flexible neck. Great Crested Grebes can turn their heads through 540°, three quarters of a turn in either direction.

One of the Robins in the Rose Garden stared challengingly at me till I fed it.

A Dunnock worked its way along the edge of a flower bed, looking for insects.

And a Blackbird found a worm on a lawn.

The white-faced Blackbird near the Italian Garden came out to be given sultanas.

A Coal Tit emerged from a feeder in the Dell carrying half a peanut which it had pecked out from the wire mesh.

Just two Little Owls today. The female near the Albert Memorial was showing well at the front of her hole.

But the one near the Henry Moore sculpture is hard to photograph at her hole. The view is obstructed by twigs and the only place where you can get a clear shot is some distance away.


  1. The Swans' maneouvres are a mystery worth investigation, I'd say! Perhaps they are better walkers than we give them credit for.

    That's certainly a fat juicy worm. I offer my congratulations to the happy Blackbird and its uncanny ability to pull things almost as big as itself off the ground.

    It's difficult to see Dunnocks in the city here, even in parks. But on the countryside they can be seen in droves. Speaking of which, are they always by their lonesome in the park? I am so used to seeing them foraging in small groups.

    1. P.S. I forgot to ask: wasn't there a pair of swans a long time ago who cleared out the Long Water (I think it was) by force and kept it for themselves? They had human names. I think I remember reading an old entry from your blog mentioning them.

    2. Dunnocks are usually extremely shy, but the pair in the Rose Garden have got used to people passing near them on the closely spaced paths, and will stay in place as long as you keep fairly still.

      Yes, the pair of Mute Swans are still exercising a reign of terror on the Long Water.

    3. I meant a very long while ago - like the swans lived there years ago. I can't find the entry now. It was a pair of swans which went by human names (royal or historical names? definitely connected with the history of Kensington Gardens) and I think you called them 'dreadful'. Since I love dreadful swans, that was too juicy a tidbit not to enquire further into it!

    4. Found it! William and Mary (I'll shup up now)

    5. Well done. Sorry I didn't realise what you meant sooner, and save you the trouble of looking. William and Mary really were appalling: two violent swans occupying the enormous expanse of two adjoining lakes, and all the rest banished to the small space of the Round Pond. Nicolae and Elena might have been more appropriate names.

    6. Thanks for the info! I do hope they didn't end up in front of a firing squad though.