Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mandarins have returned to the Long Water after several months' absence. This pair were on the posts at Peter Pan.

The drake was looking his fantastic best in fresh breeding plumage.

The local Mandarins spend most of their time on the Regent's Canal, but I think there is a shortage of trees with holes where they can nest, so some of them come down to the park to do this. It's an unwise move, because there are far more big gulls in the park than on the canal, and the survival rate of the ducklings is close to zero.

Speaking of breeding failure, the hopeless pair of Egyptians who have never raised a single offspring in 14 years were walking round and round the Italian Garden, ignoring the Sunday crowds.

This has been their private territory since they arrived, the first pair of Egyptians in the park. I have never seen them associating with any of the 80-odd others which came later or were hatched here. Even when they move to their nest site near the Henry Moore sculpture they always seem to be alone and unchallenged. The other pair of Egyptians that hang around the sculpture seem to leave when this pair arrive.

Up the hill from the Henry Moore, the female Little Owl was on her usual branch.

The female Peregrine was on the barracks tower again. I didn't see the male.

A Wren walked over the carpet of leaves at the top of the Dell waterfall.

Two Goldcrests were hopping around in the trees beside the gate of the Winter Wasteland, undisturbed by the constant stream of articulated lorries carrying away the acres of iron plates that had covered the ground.

The heroic Rani has replaced the stolen feeder in the Rose Garden, and has put in one more at the other end of the garden. It must cost her a small fortune to keep buying and filling feeders. A Blue Tit was enjoying the new nut feeder ...

... and one of the local pair of Coal Tits ...

... and the Robin who owns the bush where the feeders are hung ...

... were waiting for their turn on the seed feeder.

When flocks of Long-Tailed Tits pass through the Dell, they always visit the feeders there, which are maintained by the park staff. They don't generally use feeders elsewhere in the park, perhaps because there is more competition on the others.

A young Common Gull preened on the edge of the Round Pond. It's beginning to get adult pale grey feathers on its back, but it won't be completely grown up till its third year.


  1. I actually like female mandarin ducks better than males. They have such a lovely sweet face.

    Speaking of Egyptians - there's been something of an ornithological bruhaha here the last few days. Government here commissioned some publicity brochures to advertise birding in Extremadura, and the starring role in the brochures went to... an Egyptian goose! Which is considered an invasive species here. Their bureaucrats ought not to live this down.

    1. Female ducks are underappreciated. Most of them have lovely complex markings, and the plain cappuccino colour of female Red-Crested Pochards is also very chic.

      Funny about the intrusive Egyptian. Recently in Britain, Birmingham City Council did a brochure about how wonderful their city was and accidentally used a picture of Birmingham, Alabama.

    2. At least they didn't choose a Ruddy Duck/hybrid in Spain! Jim

    3. Well, there is a lesser scaup wintering very happily in a reservoir less than thirty minutes away from where I live...

    4. Wonder what the good folks from Alabama would make of it.

  2. I have Twite down the road at a private site that's been wintering down in Surrey. Not sure what made it decide to stay in such a great birding county :)
    I agree with the Mandarin females; they are normally dismissed when seen the Males.

    1. I find Mandarin drakes a bit exaggerated. They look as if they'd been designed by Clarice Cliff.