Wednesday 13 March 2019

There was an injured Mute Swan bleeding profusely on the Serpentine. Hugh Smith, the Wildlife Officer, had already been alerted and was trying to catch it, but it was not in a mood to be caught and stayed firmly out of the way.

Hugh thought that the injury was caused by a crash landing, not a dog attack, and that it was more messy than serious. (Update: but see below.) But he wanted to check, so we asked the people at Bluebird Boats to help catch it.

But by the time we'd fetched the boat, the swan had gone under the chains and under the bridge into the Long Water, and it took so long to undo the rusty shackle securing the chain that by then the swan had parked itself in an unreachable place.

It isn't badly hurt and will almost certainly recover by itself, but if Hugh manages to get near it tomorrow he will examine it and decide what to do. (By the way, the chains are there to stop pedalos from going on to the Long Water and disturbing the wildfowl.)

Update: the swan has now been caught and taken for treatment.

Second update: Hugh has found bite marks on the neck, indicating a dog attack. See Twitter here. Shame on the vile dog owners who let their pets off the leash near the lake, against park regulations and common humanity.

The eldest of the three young Grey Herons in the nest was flapping its large wings. The flight feathers are coming along well, but it isn't airworthy yet.

Late yesterday afternoon, when the sun had gone round and the light on the nest was better, Virginia got this dramatic picture of the young birds squabbling over a bit of raw pork fillet that they had been fed. This picture comes with a warning that feeding herons is unnecessary and can be dangerous when there are young nestlings, as it exposes them to predation by Carrion Crows.

An adult heron thought that that there was a chance of a fish under one of the water spouts of the Italian Garden.

The Great Crested Grebes at the east end of the island displayed at their nest site. But they are not yet paying much attention to making a nest, and only a few twigs remain from their last building session.

The white Mallard is very territorial about the corner of the reed bed where his ménage à trois hang out. The spare drake in the trio supports him.

The Mandarins are still at Peter Pan. The females are among the most elegant of female ducks.

A Grey Wagtail ran along the shore at the Lido.

A Carrion Crow was gathering various bits of fluff to line its nest. Owners of hairy dogs often comb their pets in the park, and the combings are sought after by several species of bird.

A Long-Tailed Tit perched on a branch in the Dell.

Above it, all was going well in the Mistle Thrush nest. The picture is always much the same, as there's only one place you can see the nest from, but it's good to know how the bird is doing.

A Robin looked out from fresh new leaves in the Rose Garden.

I went to St James's Park to try to find the Tawny Owl and the owlet, but the wind had got up and they were not visible. Probably they were huddled against a trunk, which mkes them hard to spot. So here is another fine picture by Stephen Young, taken earlier.

While I was there I did get pictures of tits in a flowering forsythia bush. A Great Tit ...

... and a Coal Tit posed obligingly ...

... but a Blue Tit wouldn't come out from behind the twigs.


  1. I love the flowering jasmine series. Lovely backdrop to the birds' colouring.

    Not gonna lie, I gasped when I saw the injured Swan's picture, but if the bird is strong enough to give a wide berth to a boat and two experienced helpers, then it 's but a scratch (hopefully). Let's see how it's doing tomorrow.

    Always a delight to see the female Mistle Thrush's little head popping on top of the nest. It shows that everything is fine.

    1. Just heard that the indefatigable Hugh has now caught the swan and taken it away for treatment.

  2. I hope we'll have an account of how he managed to do it, so that we can do the wave to Hugh properly.

    1. We may never know, it's all in a day's work for him. But we do have this from Twitter.

  3. that's a forsythia, though.

  4. Glad to find that the Swan Sanctuary is taking the poor bird in. They're true heroes.

    Awful that a dog did it. I no longer have any sympathy for many dog owners. Is it so difficult to put dogs in leads?

  5. Sad to the injured Mute Swan. Dogs are such a menace in London's parks with so many ignorant owners. We see this a lot in Richmond Park where owners are politely asked to avoid areas with ground nesting birds like skylarks + Reed Buntings as well as attacking the water birds at the ponds.

    Hope your swan recovers!

    1. I've tried asking owners politely. They take no notice at all. They live on Planet Dog, where everything their wretched pet does is lovely and funny, and he wouldn't hurt a fly. If you point out that they're breaking the law, they usually become abusive, even violent.

    2. Just call the police on them. It's what I do. Parks in my city are crowded with pitbulls and other dangerous dogs running free without leash or muzzle. Sometimes the police takes notice, sometimes they don't, but at least you won't have to confront uncivilised and violent owners.

    3. But if you do call the police, unless there's actually a dead bird it's your word against theirs, and in all cases a mountain of officialdom to climb.