Friday 18 May 2018

One of the Mistle Thrushes near the Albert Memorial collected brightly coloured caterpillars for its nestlings.

Above it, a pair of Rose-Ringed Parakeets mated on a twig.

A Pied Wagtail flew out to catch insects from his station on the boathouse roof, and sang occasionally.

A Grey Wagtail was looking for small edible creatures at the water's edge by the Lido restaurant.

A Magpie dried itself after a wash in the Serpentine.

A Carrion Crow dunked some crsips in the lake. Crows like their crisps soggy. Probably also the water washes out some of the salt.

It's hard to know what's going on in the Grey Herons' nests on the island. I think the lower one, which certainly had eggs in it for the second time, has failed again, but there is still occasionally a noise of one chick begging for food in the almost invisible upper nest. But today a heron revisited the lower nest, if only to preen.

The Great Crested Grebes at the island fed their chicks on tiny things, possibly insects snatched off the surface of the lake, and chased off a Coot that got too close.

Coots often make new nests after their chicks have hatched. This one is on the little island in the Long Water made for the Mute Swans to nest on, which the Coots have always wanted for themselves but were chased off. Now that the cygnets are out on the lake, the Coots may get their way.

Another Coot built yet another nest in an impossible place on the edge of the Serpentine.

On Wednesday there was a picture of a Coot which had got into one of the boathouses in spite of their new defences of metal mesh. The people at Bluebird Boats report that there's now a Coot nesting in the other boathouse too.

The Mute Swans were touting for food at the Peter Pan statue. The male saw another swan too close to the family, chased it away, and had a self-satisfied wash. Then the female led the cygnets off to the newly cleared area.

The Greylag Geese brought their goslings to the edge to be fed. They seemed quite happy with ordinary bird seed.

The two Canada families still have 15 and 2 goslings, and were keeping them in the shelter of trees beside the Serpentine.

The Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond stiill had eight young, including the two rescued and returned by Virginia yesterday.

A Mallard near the bridge had two ducklings.

There is a blonde female Mallard at the east end of the Serpentine. These occasionally appear in shades from slightly pale to almost white.

Honeybees collected nectar from the allium flowers in the Rose Garden. We shall never know whether it makes the honey taste of onions, as there are no hives in the park -- though I think there are in Regent's Park.


  1. I live in Ground Zero of honey production, and I have never heard of onion-flavoured honey. Virulently toxic honey, yes.

    Do Coots pose any danger to Grebe chicks? That Grebe parent seemed quite determined to get the Coot out of the way.

    I don't think I had ever seen a smug Swan. Now I have.

    1. Yes, I had wondered about the mad honey mentioned in the Anabasis, and was pleased to find an explanation. Later I used the idea in this scene from Tilda and the Witches.

      Coots do sometimes kill Great Crested Grebe chicks if the nests are close and the chick doesn't dive fast enough. Grebes leave Coot chicks alone. But the two species are eternally at war.

  2. Melibee, Ashbee, and Bumblebee. I'm dying!

  3. Melibee is Chaucer's name for St Melibeus, and Chaucer told a deiberately dreary and inept story about him in the Canterbury Tales as as a bit of self-deprecation. Ashbee was the name of a Victorian pornographer who used the pen name of Pisanus Fraxi, garbled from Fraxinus Apis.