Tuesday, 17 April 2018

There were encouraging signs of nesting in the park. A Mistle Thrush carried a caterpillar to feed its young near the Dell.

A pair of Robins were in a hawthorn bush on Buck Hill, and you could hear the cheeping of chicks in a bramble patch underneath.

The Moorhen nesting in the hawthorn on the Dell restaurant terrace has been there for a while ...

... but here is her mate collecting a bit of reed to repair the nest lining.

The Grey Herons were in their nest on the island, and one of them was poking around, probably turning the eggs to keep them evenly warmed.

The dominant Mute Swan on the Long Water was clearing away other swans from near his nest. Three of them, chased away, landed farther down the lake.

For swans. washing is a pretty intense business.

A female Red Crested Pochard preened at the Lido.

A Bar-Headed Goose had flown in again from St James's Park, which is only about a mile away.

Wood Pigeons eat large amounts of leaf shoots and blossom. But they are not as destructive to trees as Ring-Necked Parakeets, which descend on trees in flocks and completely denude them.

I don't think I will ever understand how the park staff think. This large and expensive tern raft on the Long Water was built several years ago. To attract terns, rafts have to be covered with small stones, with a number of them white and about the size of a tern's egg, to camouflage the bare nesting site. Also, there needs to be a shelter for the chicks when they hatch -- a ridge tile for a roof is often used. These things were never put on the raft, so visiting terns wouldn't look at it. When I mentioned this to someone who, to be kind, I won't name, he said that they would put them on the raft when the terns showed an interest in it. But of course they never did. Later, a pair of Canada Geese nested on the raft and, because there is no hole in the plastic edge, the goslings had to be rescued when they hatched. This year the geese tried again. But now they have been evicted and the raft is covered in netting. So there is no possibility that a tern will ever nest on it, and the whole thing might as well never have been built.

There wasn't much else going on in the park. I was with Tom, so we decided to go to St James's Park. One bird we wanted to see was the Black Swan that had been in Hyde Park for so long. We couldn't be sure which of the Black Swans she was, but I think this is a picture of her. I couldn't get any closer.

There were at most five Black Swans, down from a high of nine a few months ago. There had been reports on the London Bird Club Wiki of a party of four Black Swans seen in several places in outer London. I think that these were the four teenagers who appeared on the Round Pond, went down to the main lake, met 'our' Black Swan, and departed with her to St James's Park. Now they are off wandering again.

There have been reports of a Lesser Black-Backed Gull killing Feral Pigeons in St James's Park. I was uncertain whether it was 'our' gull or another one. We had seen 'our' gull and his mate earlier in their usual place on the Serpentine. But at St James's there was another gull which was definitely hunting pigeons. We didn't see it catch one, but this sighting seems to confirm that it's a different gull.

Only one of the three White Pelicans in St James's Park can fly, and it doesn't often take to the air. But today it was circling over the island.

It kept disappearing behind the trees and I only got a few seconds of video. It never leaves, because it wants to stay with its earthbound companions. But I am told that it once landed nearby on Horseguards' Parade and had to be escorted back on foot.

A Blackbird came out of the shrubbery, clearly expecting to be fed, so I gave it some sultanas. This was in a place where Mark feeds the birds, but this bird doesn't know me and its tameness was quite surprising.

A female Pochard and a terrapin (a Red-Eared Slider) dozed peacefully side by side on a branch on the edge of the pelican island.

There were two more terrapins a little way along the bank.


  1. Great to see the pelican in flight! Very elegant, considering their bulk. I've yet to see any of them : every time I'm in St. James' they seem to hide from me (even went to the alleged feeding spot & time once). Where to spot them? The other two have their wings clipped, I assume- so they don't fly off? Seems nasty.

    1. The pelicans may be almost anywhere on or around the lake. Today we first saw the three of them on the path near the bridge. One of them is pinioned, the other lost a wing in a dog attack -- they are much too tame. St James's Park is a sad place with all those captive geese and ducks.

  2. I have only ever seen captive pelicans, which I've read promptly go mad when in captivity. I long to see them in the wild. They are indeed so elegant in flight.

    Dear me, our Pigeon Killer is apparently taking in apprentices to teach its trade.

    Did the Black Swan give any sign that she recognized you?

  3. The pigeon-killing gull in St James's Park was first noticed several years ago. But I could never be sure that it wasn't ours on a little expedition.

    The Black Swan was on the far side of a reed bed, so we didn't get a chance of a rendezvous.