Tuesday 26 November 2019

Several Mute Swans, including some teenagers, have been brought back to London from the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton where they have been recovering from injuries, mostly dog bites. They were released on the Long Water. It's a quieter place than the Serpentine, but unfortunately the dominant pair of swans were on patrol and in a bad mood, and the newcomers got chased on to the shore. When I got round to the other side of the lake they had all made it back into the water except one -- the young swan in the water is the offspring of the dominant pair. I managed to draw them away with a bribe of sunflower seeds, and herded the beached swan back into the water, where it quickly left the scene.

A pair of Tufted Ducks preened on a floating log. I'm very fond of Tufted Ducks. They are the prototype of the rubber bath duck, with a permanent smile in the curve of their bill.

A Gadwall drake flapped to settle his feathers after preening.

A Mallard ate water plants.

The usual Red-Crested Pochard was in the Italian Garden fountain.

Two of the Moorhen teenagers poked around in the little stream of the Dell looking for something edible, which for a Moorhen means just about anything.

The resident Grey Heron was in the pool at the top of the waterfall, the only bit of water in the park that definitely doesn't have fish in it, since the top level of the waterfall is fed with water recirculated by a pump. Maybe it's attracted by the glitter of the coins that people throw into the pool.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was away from his usual place, and a Jackdaw tried out his favourite perch on the Dell restaurant roof.

It was soon chased away by the heron.

A young Herring Gull took off from the Serpentine.

Note the colour of its flight feathers. The inner primaries are lighter in colour than the outer ones. This is the only reliable way of distinguishing a young Herring Gull from a young Lesser Black-Back, which looks almost exactly the same but its flight feathers are dark all the way along.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker preened in a tall tree beside the Long Water.

A Magpie checked a flower bed in the Rose Garden for insects and worms.

A Dunnock waited under the bird feeder for visiting tits to spill sunflower seeds on the ground.

This squirrel uses the aluminium sign on the post to sharpen its teeth. It has already gnawed away quite a lot of metal.

The workmen at the island are surrounding it with metal posts in preparation for installing a reed bed. Netting on the posts will keep Mute Swans and Coots from destroying the growing reeds. Birds will still be able to get on to the island from the shore side.


  1. I had never thought that Herons would perceive the glitter of scales first when trying to locate where fish are. I reminds me of Gollum's fish song:

    The cold hard lands
    they bites our hands,
    they gnaws our feet.
    The rocks and stones
    are like old bones
    all bare of meat.
    But stream and pool
    is wet and cool:
    so nice for feet!
    And now we wish -

    Alive without breath;
    as cold as death;
    never thirsting, ever drinking
    clad in mail, never clinking.
    Drowns on dry land,
    thinks an island
    is a mountain;
    thinks a fountain
    is a puff of air.
    So sleek, so fair!
    What a joy to meet!
    We only wish
    to catch a fish,
    so juicy-sweet!

  2. I'm sure that Gollum ate rats too, the herons' other main catch, but Tolkien didn't give us his rat song.