Monday 29 April 2019

A trip round the island, courtesy of Bluebird Boats, revealed that the Great Crested Grebes nesting against the wire basket on the island have at least one chick. Its parent tried to give it a feather, which grebes eat to wrap up fishbones. This video was shot standing up in the boat, so it's a little rocky.

The grebes on the Long Water have brought their one chick out from under the shelter of the tree where they nested.

A Moorhen nesting on the island supervised its chicks from the top of the basket. I was wondering how it got in, but unfortunately I stopped filming before it suddenly managed to squeeze through the wire mesh. These are the first Moorhen chicks I've seen this year.

There are nine Coot nests on the island. No wonder their numbers are increasing -- there are now well over two hundred of the birds. Here is the nest on the platform of Bluebird Boats. Whenever a boat is moored to the cleat at the top of the picture, the Coot gets off the nest but returns immediately.

Sadly, the Coot's effort is in vain, because the platform is too high above the water for any chicks that fall in to get back up. Mateusz made them a ramp last year, but they didn't understand what it was for. Coots are not very bright.

Carrion Crows are among the most intelligent of birds, and understand ramps. The duckboard in the Italian Garden fountain makes a convenient place for drinking.

The boat trip gave a chance to look at the Grey Herons' nest on the south side of the island. It's hard to see into through the leaves, but here is the first close shot of the single young heron in it, now quite large.

This nest is on the southeast corner, with two year-old herons that look too young to be breeding.

One of the teenage herons from the nest on the north side looked into a basket. I couldn't see what it found interesting in there.

A Mute Swan tore up plants to add to its nest at the southwest corner of the island.

This is the nest on the opposite corner. I don't think the pair have settled down here yet, but the heap of branches on the right shows that it's definitely a nest.

A pair of Egyptian Geese took their goslings along the edge of the shrubbery to find palatable leaves.

The female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial was in her new nest tree.

One of the Mistle Thrushes nesting near the Dell was down on the grass looking for worms.

A Robin beside the Long Water sang just a couple of phrases before flying off. I should have stood farther away.

Mateusz found this Turkish crayfish in his trap near the boat platform. He kept it there because he thought it might be a pregnant female, but it turned out not to be, so he released it.

The crayfish are returning quite slowly after the last population crash a few years ago. There is a cyclical boom and bust in their numbers that is hard to explain.


  1. I love Grebes. Full stop :-)

    I was wondering if there are other specific names for chicks in English other than cygnet for swan chick and gosling for goose chick. I am coming up empty trying to think of more.

    1. Duckling, owlet, also squab for pigeon chick, guga for gannet chick. Jim

    2. And a few more here. Jim

    3. 'Puffling'? I've heard that but thought it was a joke.

    4. Thanks so much! Most of them I didn't know. Wonderful names.

  2. Is that a foreign species of crayfish? I thought that there were only two species in the UK.

    1. Yes, and an invasive species, though not as pernicious as the Signal crayfish -- and we used to have those too and they're probably breeding up her again.