Tuesday, 12 May 2020

When the Black Swan arrived on the Round Pond several months ago it immediately started beating up all the Mute Swans, finally reaching number two in the pecking order as there was one big male it couldn't beat. Then it flew down to the Serpentine, and here it seems to have mellowed and is living quite peacefully with its white companions. Here it is preening and nestling down beside a male swan. It might be female, but we can't be sure about that for a while. It's only a year old, too young to start breeding.

Some readers were worried because I hadn't recently mentioned the lone Egyptian gosling, the single survivor of a large brood, which has clung tenaciously to life despite the circling gulls. To reassure them, here is a video of the little creature, growing fast and cruising around catching flies off the surface of the lake.

The Egyptian mother with six goslings grazed contentedly with five of them, unaware ...

... that she had left one of them by itself on the shore. I don't think Egyptians can count to six, probably less.

Later she allowed five of them to sprawl in the middle of the path among the passing runners.

The parents' carelessness seems strange because we're used to true geese such as Greylags taking great care with their broods. But Egyptians are really just big ducks, and as vague as their smaller relatives.

The hopeless Egyptian Geese are now over twenty years old and have still never managed to raise a gosling. I think they have stopped even trying to breed now, but are still hanging around the Italian Garden together. Here they are preening on the abandoned Mute Swan nest on the Long Water. The large egg is the swan's, not theirs.

The Coots' nest on the post at Peter Pan was tastefully ornamented with poplar leaves from a branch that had fallen into the water. It's a shame that this well made nest will be instantly raided by gulls the moment any chicks appear.

As well as the singing male Reed Warblers in the reed bed below the Diana fountain ...

... there was one in the reeds just the other side of the bridge, and this one in a small patch near the Italian Garden.

It's hard to know how many pairs there are in all, but it must be at least five. They are one of the success stories of the park, happy to nest in the fairly small area of reeds available.

A surprise: lamp post number 76 at the back of the Lido has a Great Tit nesting in it. Normally no bird larger than a Blue Tit can get into the confined space, but the lamp has been temporarily removed for maintenance and the unattached gas pipe has slumped over to one side, making more room. The parent bird is removing a faecal sac from the nest. The nestlings produce their droppings neatly wrapped, which keeps the nest clean. The parent will take it away and drop it some distance from the nest to avoid attracting the notice of predators. It's also holding a spider, which it will give to a chick when it comes back.

A Starling stared at the camera from the spiked railings.

Neil shot this video of Carrion Crows lining a fence next to the leaf yard and Rose-Ringed Parakeets in a nearby pink-blossomed hawthorn tree. They make a fine video, but the mob of parakeets attracted by people feeding them here, and the numerous crows arriving in the hope of food, have driven away almost all the many and various small songbirds on the south side of the leaf yard, which used to be a wonderful place for seeing them.

Another place where food has brought a mass of crows is the lawn to the east of the Dell. There were very few crows here until the annual Winter Wasteland funfair started up. But now they are here and they won't go away.

A Magpie trotted along the edge of the lake picking up small insects and larvae from the debris at the edge, and midges flying low over the water. However closely you look, it's impossible to see what their sharp eyes are finding.

The day was calm and sunny enough to bring the Little Owl on Buck Hill out to her favourite alder tree.


  1. Thank you for the gosling reassurance.Unlike Egyptians, Mallard mothers always seem very keen to me, not at all vague.
    And thanks to Neil for his video; I like the Crows lined up waiting for a snack- I don't think I've seen anyone feed them, as they're neither cute nor colourful. I like them. (and have thrown them the odd peanut or 2).

    1. Crows may not be cute, but they're shiny and intelligent and funny, and endlessly fascinating to watch.

  2. Goodie! great to see the gosling is doing so well.

    Neil's video and Ralph's picture do look disturbingly like a missing frame from The Birds.

    Very glad to see the Black Swan is mellowing out and losing its teenager-like bluster. I must confess my mind jumped on immediately to the possibility of hybrid babies!

    1. The Birds is a film that I particularly loathe. The poor gulls were tied to Tippi Hendren with black thread to make it look as if they were attacking her. No wonder they panicked.

  3. I just walked around the park and unfortunately the lone Egyptian gosling is no longer. Seems he was attacked this morning. So sad.

    1. very sorry to hear that.

    2. We were all hoping for the best, but its amazing run of luck finally ran out.

  4. It seems remarkable for an abandoned egg to last out for so long. Jim

    1. It had been covered up until the Egyptians started scuffling around on the nest.