Saturday, 2 May 2020

The Grey Wagtails at the Lido have two young. They don't seem to be as pushy as young Pied Wagtails, and wait patiently to be fed instead of pestering their parents.

Another Grey Wagtail, not one of the parents from the Lido, used the Mute Swan's nesting island in the Long Water as a station from which to dart out and catch midges. The Coot parents with a single chick passed by in the background.

The Little Owl on Buck Hill looked down from the alder tree.

The young Grey Heron newly out of the nest was in almost exactly the same place as yesterday. It seems to be bewildered by the world.

Five herons squabbled on the edge of the Serpentine. The one in the middle of the picture ...

... is the young bird that has flown in from another park, and seems to be the chief troublemaker in these quarrels.

A solitary heron fished peacefully under the willow tree near the bridge.

A few yards away a Great Crested Grebe was looking for fish in its own fashion.

The Mute Swan nesting on the gravel bank in the Long Water has still not been attacked by the dominant pair of swans, who seem to have lost their fighting spirit after the failure of their nesting attempt.

Joan Chatterley reports from St James's Park that the young Black Swan may have paired with an adult. In this picture you can see the adult's all-white flight feathers. First-year Black Swans have black tips to these feathers.

The first Mallard duckling  I've seen this year appeared under a bench beside the Serpentine. It's probably the last survivor of a much larger brood.

The single Egyptian gosling on the Serpentine tasted various plants on the edge of the lakeside path. It preferred dandelion leaves, which many birds like (and they make a good salad for humans too if picked when young and tender).

The brood of seven on the other side of the lake are in good order.

The Egyptians that I photographed a few days ago apparent eating the tatty old rubber mat on the boat platform have decided that it's better used as a comfortable place to sit.


  1. Presumably there is less man-made food all along the lake, would that lead to the dominant swans being less expansionist? Also do you see any correlation with bright weather, which should cause underwater flora to rise faster helping satiate the swans?

    An interesting article here about gulls in Rome becoming more predatory. Jim

  2. I think the swans are well fed at all times, since with their long necks they can reach down to the algae however high or low the tops float. But I also think they are dispirited by their failure to get enough eggs, which would hit them hard as they are very emotional creatures. I am guessing that the female swan started laying with no nest available, and they desperately and hastily made a nest on the swamped island in time for the last two eggs, but two eggs was not enough to stimulate the female swan into incubating them. But that is only a guess.

    The gull in that blurred picture looks like a Yellow-Legged Gull, very likely in Rome which is not far from the coast. They are renowned for their ferocity.

  3. Three young Magpies have just fledged from an ornamental cherry tree beside a mansion block in Moscow Road, five seconds flying time from Kensington Gardens. It’s unheard of for any nesting to take place in this location, a most unsuitable spot – small trees, narrow pavement, large overlooking building, and heavy traffic, both human and vehicle. Is it just possible that other park residents will have spilled over into new territories all round the perimeters to take advantage of the quiet and we might have an avian baby boom returning to the parks?

    1. Yes, absolutely. The cleaner air resulting from little traffic may be a factor too -- birds' lungs are very sensitive to pollution, and it's likely that the absence of Sparrows in central London is largely due to filthy air.

  4. Yellow-Legged Gulls have always been good at hunting pigeons. There was a very famous incident in which one of the white doves released under pope Francis's eye was instantly caught by a Gull:

    I too think the swans must be depressed after losing their eggs. They do have a heart after all, I guess.

    Isn't our Black Swan too young to be thinking of pairing up?

    1. Releasing white doves has always been risky. Think of the Seoul Olympics where the poor creatures flew too close to the sacred fire and fell from the sky in flames.

      Depression in swans is definitely a reality. A swan may decline and die after losing a mate.

      Our original Black Swan a few years ago, a first-year bird, dallied with a Mute Swan. They may not be fertile yet, but it doesn't stop them from seeking mates.