Saturday, 21 April 2018

One of the Great Crested Grebes nesting on the Serpentine island was peacefully turning over the eggs on its nest ...

... when a deafening cannon salute was fired a short distance away. Both birds became very agitated and hastily covered up the eggs to protect them from whatever was making the terrible noise.

The Grey Heron in the nest above them was also alarmed.

The grebes nesting in the oak tree near the bridge have made their nest twice already, then given up and let it fall to bits. Now they are trying to nest for the third time.

The one not on the nest was preening, here seen from the high parapet of the Serpentine bridge.

Under the Dell restaurant balcony, a Coot rearranged its nest of very large twigs resting on the floor of the lake in almost two feet of water. We've looked at this nest before, but I'm still baffled by how the Coots managed to find and move the waterlogged and non-floating branches at the bottom.

This Coot at Peter Pan did not move the large branch. It fell off the Lombardy poplar tree that overhangs the lake, and lodged on the chain.

There were four ducks in the Little Owls' tree near the Albert Memorial: a pair of Mallards which have been hanging around there for some time, and two Mandarin drakes from the adjoining plane tree where a female is nesting.

The pair of Nuthatches in the leaf yard are also thinking of nesting. The female was in the shadows uttering plaintive cries and fluttering her wings to get her mate to feed her ...

... while he came out and collected pine nuts from my hand. This ritual convinces the female that her mate will feed her when she is on the nest.

A Jackdaw was expecting to be fed.

So was a Starling, but I don't feed them because, once you start feeding Starlings, they will chase you for ever and it will be impossible to feed the smaller birds. They get a fair amount by picking up spilt food from the ground.

A pair of Great Tits perched side by side on the edge of the Long Water.

a Blackcap sang nearby.


  1. One forgets how stunning Starlings are in sunlight, especially in courting plumage.

    1. They have to be photographed from time to time as a reminder.

  2. I wouldn't be able to resist so much lovely iridiscence pointedly directed at me!

    Loved especially the clips and pictures showing the action underwater. The water is so transparent it allows a great view of the birds' feet in action. I am as amazed as everyone else by the Coots' uncanny ability to securely anchor large twigs in what appears to be (from their perspective) dangerously deep waters. If they were to form a political party, I'd vote for them.

    Those poor frightened Grebes. And yet they never abandoned their nest despite the horrid cannon noise (that was on account of Queen Elizabeths's birthday, right?).

    1. The most interesting video I've been able to get of grebes' unique swimming stroke is here. They slash their separate turbine-blade toes sideways through the water. It's quite different from the paddling stroke of a web-footed bird, and more efficient.

    2. That's an absolutely great angle to see the movement of the feet. Thank you so much!

  3. Pedant's corner. Most courtship feeding in songbirds is said to occur after courtship and be more about the hen getting help during egg formation and incubation. But who knows whether the birds see it this way? Jim

  4. Wonderful blog
    Have just moved close to Hyde park with a couple of trees under my window and can now identify one or two birds.
    Suggestions for learning to identify their calls?

    1. There's a book with associated CDs called The Sound Approach to Birding which is well spoken of. But there's no substitute for seeing and hearing the bird and then working out what it was.

    2. Will searchs for book and cd, many thanks.
      As for the 'no substitute':
      Might you be persuaded to give tutorials in Kensington Gardens?

    3. I'll always be glad to show people round to see whatever can be seen. But tutorials? No. I really think there's no substitute for finding out for yourself.