Friday, 29 May 2020

The Mute Swan family were in trouble at the Lido. The cygnets were in the water on one side of the fence, and both their parents were on the other side, unable to get over.

Evidently the dominant male swan at the west end of the Serpentine, a hulking bully, had chased them on to the land at the open shore near the Diana fountain. The cygnets were in danger from him and from gulls.

There was only one thing to do. I inexpertly grabbed the female swan and threw the struggling bird as far as I could into the lake, not easy because she had to come down in fairly deep water to avoid injuring her legs, and the fence is three feet back from the sloping edge of the lake. Meanwhile the male swan was attacking me with all his considerable might. But luckily she splashed down unhurt, and swam away in a huff to gather her cygnets.

There was no chance of picking up the male swan, who was in a real rage and no wonder. So I chivvied the furious creature along the path back to the Diana fountain and into the water. And off he sailed with an indignant backward glance.

When I came back later the family were back together none the worse for their experience. They even allowed me to give them a peace offering of sunflower seeds. But swans don't do gratitude.

The Black Swan went back under the bridge on to the Long Water. It must have tangled with the dominant swan on the other side, because it was soon back looking irritable.

The two Canada goslings have taken to sprinting along the lake shore, followed by their parents waddling awkwardly to keep up with them.

The Coot nesting in the Italian Garden gave one of the chicks a thorough going over for fleas -- which may be kind but also provides a few snacks.

A Carrion Crow sunbathed at the leaf yard.

A Blue Tit cooled off in the pool at the top of the Dell waterfall.

A Wren had caught a moth to feed its young.

The young Pied Wagtail at the Lido is already a skilled hunter. It caught a female Common Blue Damselfly, and with some difficulty managed to swallow the long insect.

The Little Owl in the alder tree preened. But soon the wind got too strong for her to be comfortable and she flew away to return to her hole.

A female Emperor dragonfly landed on a reed in the Italian Garden, and I went to photograph her laying eggs. I was expecting her to move on afterwards, but apart from the small backward jump seen here (she was facing into a brisk breeze) she didn't move from the spot. When I came past again an hour and a half later she was still there. Was she exhausted?

There was a Blue-Tailed Damselfly on the same reed clump.

A male Black-Tailed Skimmer sunned himself on a bit of gravel-coated tarmac. They have a liking for gravelly surfaces which makes it hard to get good pictures.

Bramble flowers, which resemble miniature roses, attracted a Honeybee ...

... and a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee.

Jon Spoard reports from St James's Park that the recently acquired young female White Pelican is inconveniently adventurous. Here is his picture of her trying to get into the restaurant.

Then she wandered off into the road. Fortunately traffic is still light. Hugh Smith the Wildlife Officer had to come and pick her up and take her back to the lake.

I wish I could capture a large bird as easily as he does.


  1. Well done on the rescue! Any tips on swan hurling? I have occasionally come across them in the wrong place but have been a bit reticent.

    1. You try to grab it round the middle to keep its wings down, and then just fling it as far as you can manage.

  2. Well done Ralph. That was very brave of you

    1. I was mainly worried for the swan. Even big birds are flimsy and fragile.

  3. You may not be a Hugh, but you got the job done! He does make it look easy, though, doesn't he.

    1. I think the St James's Park pelicans are quite used to being caught and brought back. It didn't put up a fight at all, while swans always so.

  4. Well done Ralph! Once again you saved the day. Swans may not do gratitude, but we certainly do. It must have been insanely difficult to keep all under control and make the equivalent of a precision throw while being beaten up by a furious cob.

    Hugh's job sounds pretty adventurous. It must not be easy wrangling and picking up a struggling Pelican whose pouch is almost bigger than your torso. Incidentally, I hope we'll get footage of the Pelican raiding the restaurant. That bird looks promising.

    1. It looks as if when the restaurant reopens that's exactly what will happen.