Tuesday 28 April 2020

It was a nasty cold wet dark day. Two Egyptian Geese drank from a puddle.

The lone gosling on the Serpentine was preening. It has been an only child for at least ten days, and its parents are looking after it as carefully as an Egyptian Goose can (which isn't very, as they are scatterbrained birds).

The goslings of true geese follow their mother closely. But Egyptian Geese are more like big ducks than geese -- as you can see from the colours of their young -- and their goslings wander about, so their mother has to follow them.

A picture from yesterday by Duncan Campbell of the Egyptian family that has taken up residence in the pool at Marble Arch, next to the bronze elephants. Someone has kindly provided them with a wooden ramp so that the goslings can get out of the pool.

The near side of the pool is the former site of the Tyburn Tree, a large triangular gallows where 24 people could be hanged at once, eight to a side. Here is William Hogarth's engraving of an execution, from his series Industry and Idleness.

Five Mute Swans flew past the Serpentine island ...

... and three ate willow leaves.

The unused swan nest on the Long Water was occupied by the lone Coot chick.

On the other side of the lake, the incompetent Coot has managed to make a flimsy nest of twigs and reeds, but the first rough weather will wash it away.

A Moorhen's feathers were disarranged by a tailwind as it foraged at the edge of the lake.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate had an affectionate display.

Later he found a dead fish and started to eat it, watched by an envious Magpie ...

... until both were frightened off by the arrival of a teenage Grey Heron. This is the one that attacks the adult herons. The young one hatched here is still in the nest.

There were Swifts flying over the lake, too high for a picture in these conditions. Some House Martins have arrived too, and I managed to snatch a mediocre picture of two.

A pair of Pied Wagtails ran around near the small boathouses, calling to each other.

A Song Thrush ...

... and a Greenfinch perched beside the Long Water.

A bit of colour on a drab day: the first yellow iris has come out in the Italian Garden.


  1. In German, Egyptian Geese are called Halbgaense (= half-geese). There is a pair of them on the Thames between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges (well, that's where I've seen them- south bank). I don't know if there are anymore? Since the Thames is tidal, it is probably still a bit saline there?

    1. lovely video of the Moorhen in tailwind, I still remember a photo from some time ago.

    2. I've recently seen Egyptian Geese on the river at low tide, a bit higher up at Chelsea Bridge.

  2. Oh my God, I miss House Martins so much. I haven't been able to see any since being in lockdown.

    I wonder if swans get headaches. Perhaps that is why they are fond of eating willow parts.

    That's an industrial-strength gallows and no mistake.

    1. I'm sure you'll see House Martins from your window. Even I do from the restricted view of my flat.

      I've also been wondering whether the swans are self-medicating on willow leaves. Maybe it relieves their perpetual fury for a while.

  3. Hope you didn't get too wet yesterday! Not a pleasant day but we badly needed that rain. You did well seeing the Swifts & House Martins. I saw several Swifts from the garden on Monday but no House Martins. Have had a few Swallows locally including a couple from the garden.

    1. Anyway, the hirundines are starting to appear. Looking forward to getting some better pictures on a sunny day with the whizzy tracking autofocus on my new camera.