Thursday 22 March 2018

Two pairs of Great Crested Grebes had a territorial dispute near the Lido. It doesn't usually come to an actual fight, but this time it did. The victors were the pair with their territory to the right. After the fight they congratulated each other, and the losers crept away.

The fight looks savage from a distance, but in fact I have never seen a grebe injured by fighting another. It's a wrestling match, and the aim is to tip over the other bird and hold its head under water so that it is forced to submit.

Another pair of grebes on the Long Water were stealing twigs from a Coots' nest. They weren't acrtually building a nest of their own, but they don't like Coots and enjoy annoying them.

This Coot nest near the Lido is made mostly of reeds rather than twigs.

Coots are adaptable in their choice of materials, more so than grebes. But both have learnt that plastic bags are a useful reinforcement.

Cormorants have returned to the wire baskets near the bridge. These baskets full of twigs are fish hatcheries, and fish, mostly perch, come here in spring to spawn. The Cormorants have noticed this.

A Carrion Crow and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull quarrelled over the corpse of a Moorhen on the island.

This gull is not the pigeon killer. Quite likely the Moorhen died of natural causes.

A young Herring Gull picked up a stick from the Long Water to play drop-catch. Usually the game is to drop the stick and dive to catch it before it hits the water. But this time it was accompanied by another young gull ...

... and when it dropped the stick it didn't dive after it, but let the other gull catch it.

I wouldn't have expected gulls to cooperate in this way, even when playing.

A pair of Mute Swans tore up plants to make a nest on the bank of the Long Water near the bridge. This has never been a successful nest site. It is exposed to foxes, and last year the eggs mysteriously disappeared one by one, I think taken by humans.

A Mistle Thrush preened on a tree in the Rose Garden.

The male Chaffinch waited for a turn at the feeder.

A Nuthatch in the leaf yard waited to come down and feed from my hand, which it did several times.

A Robin and a Blue Tit beside the Long Water were also waiting to be fed. Surprisingly, they perched next to each other in peace.

There are still some Redwings on the Parade Ground. This one pulled up a worm.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial ...

... and the female owl near the Henry Moore sculpture were in their usual places.

Red and white strings or ribbons keep appearing on trees with blossom and new leaf shoots.

I think they are tied on by Japanese tourists, but I have never surprised one in the act.


  1. So many interesting things today! First off, the Great Crested Grebes' surprisingly violent fight (even though it may come to nothing, birds being much more sensible than humans, it still looks worrisome from a distance). And of course the obligatory Coot was dying to join the fray.

    The Gull's communal play with the stick reminded me: isn't there a raptor species in which courtship implies the male's passing prey to the female while flying? I almost want to say it is the Bald Eagle, but I'm not sure. Who knows what the young Gulls are doing.

    1. Yes, it's quite common for raptors of various species to pass food in mid-air, and the young are often fed in this way. But the exchanges are done at close quarters, not with a long drop.

  2. Hi Ralph,

    In Romania, women are given a small charm on a red and white string (called a martisor) on 1st March. These are then often left on a tree when the first blossom appears later in the month so these could be the ones you have seen on the trees!