Saturday 6 April 2019

Two young Pied Wagtails appeared with their father on a rowing boat moored in the middle of the Serpentine.

The Little Owls near the Albert Memorial seem to be definitely established in their new hole, in an oak tree a few feet to the northwest of their old tree. The male was here today. You can't see into this hole from the ground -- they may well have chosen it for this reason, to avoid being annoyed by photographers.

One of the young Grey Herons had flown into a tree above the nest, and had managed to land on a thin twig, so its flying skills must already be quite good.

The other two were not feeling adventurous, and remained in the nest.

Below them, a Herring Gull had stolen an egg and was eating it, with a Moorhen standing below.

I don't think it was the Moorhen's egg -- it looked the size of a Coot's egg. And I don't think it was from the Great Crested Grebes a short way off, as they are always very careful when changing places on the nest and don't leave it unattended.

A Herring Gull can pick up a tennis ball in its beak, so carrying eggs is no problem.

A view of the Mute Swans' nest at the Lido restaurant, with one egg.

A Moorhen rested on the Mute Swans' nest next to the boathouse and was there for several hours, so perhaps the swans have abandoned this unsuitable place. As swans do, they had brought a lot of junk into the nest including a hat.

A Coot on the Serpentine collected a red and silver crisp packet -- their two favourite colours -- to decorate its nest.

The Coots at the bridge had a pink magnolia petal as an ornament ...

... and the nest at Peter Pan had a swan feather.

An Egyptian Goose beside the Serpentine called her wandering goslings to the relative safety of a rotten tree stump.

A Blackbird sang in a Lombardy Poplar beside the Long Water.

Small birds here included a Wren in a hawthorn tree by the Italian Garden ...

... and a pair of Long-Tailed Tits probably nesting in a nearby bramble patch.

Cowslips are out near the bridge.

The last flowers I identified here as Cowslips turned out to be False Oxlips, but these are the real thing.

Tom was at Lynford Arboretum, where he found a female Crossbill ...

... and a Willow Tit.

Willow Tits are becoming rare, and reports of them are often of the very similar-looking Marsh Tit. But this one was calling, which made the identification certain.

Joan Chatterley reports that a pair of Black Swans in St James's Park have one cygnet.

They have probably lost several to the hungry gulls. Sadly, they are not as good parents as Mute Swans, and the last brood here perished entirely in a few days.


  1. Sad to see that they are down to their last cygnet. They are lovely, but their parenting skills cound be improven. Which is odd, given that, being from Australia, they ought to be ready to face any peril.

    Loved seeing the collection of nest ornaments hand-picked by the Coots. Biologists ought to give to Coots some portion of the notice they give to Bowerbirds.

    1. I must dig out all my pictures of the things Coots put on their nests and do a series. Hope I can still find the picture of the Coot with the silver helium balloon.

  2. I would love to know if the name Willow Tit was in homage to Gilbert and Sullivan, as it was late to be recognised as a British species, we have our own subspecies and it has no particular affinity for willows. I fear it would take considerable digging to find out. Jim

    1. says it is, but that's not much of an authority. Gilbert's London house, a fantastically ornate structure by Peto & George, is just down the road from me in Harrington Gardens, and it is here that he wrote the libretto for The Mikado, allegedly inspired when a samurai sword that was part of the Aesthetic Japonaiserie interior decor fell off the wall above his study door, luckily when he was not under it. Next time I pass I will try to interrogate his ghost.