Friday 5 June 2020

A mixed pair of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull often visit the Serpentine, but this is a new couple as the Herring Gull is only in its second year. The wing-pulling behaviour seems to be part of the courtship ritual.

A young Carrion Crow begged a parent for food, but none was available at the moment. I took pity on the young bird and gave it some peanuts which it happily ate.

A Greenfinch sang its chattering song, looking very bright against dark green holly leaves. The other song, not heard here, is a peculiar wheezing sound.

A Pied Wagtail ran along the lake shore collecting insects for its young.

A Wren scolded loudly from a fallen branch beside the Long Water.

House Martins flew low over the lake, and could be photographed looking down from the bridge.

A Tufted drake flew in from the other side.

An irritable Mute Swan chased a Coot.

The dominant swan on the Long Water guarded the eggs while the female took a break. When this pair nested on the little artificial island there was always a Coot nest next to them, and the Coots seem to have followed them to this new site. Do Coots know that a nesting swan will protect them from gulls? I'm not sure they're bright enough to realise this.

Other swan news: the single cygnet on the Long Water is in good order ...

... and so are the six on the Serpentine ...

... but the mother of the three was having trouble with the crow again. She kept it away.

The Black Swan is regrowing its wing feathers. The new set will be pure white, without the black tips of the previous set.

A Gadwall rested on a turned-off fountain in the Italian Garden.

According to the gardeners they can't be turned on again until a man comes from an outside firm to perform some electrical magic. The old steam-powered fountains were much simpler, though there would have had to be a stoker constantly in attendance.

A Great Crested Grebe rested comfortably on the nest under the willow by the bridge. There should be a fine view of the chicks when they hatch.

A female Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly showed off her fine markings on an iris leaf.

Joan Chatterley sent another picture of the blonde Egyptian Goose in St James's Park. This really does seem to be our Blondie. Odd that she should have deserted the Serpentine after having been so sedentary for years.

Duncan Campbell reports that there are still seven Egyptian goslings at Marble Arch. It shows how greatly survival improves when there isn't a host of hungry Herring Gulls milling around, as on the Serpentine.


  1. Why has Blondie forsaken us? Come back, we love you!

    The odd gull couple is endearing. Well, as endearing as those killing machines can be.

    I have read that some toucan species nest usually in the same tree where harpy eagles do, the rationale being that no one would dare to approach a harpy eagle's nest, and they gamble also on harpy eagles considering them beneath their notice. It must be conceded though that toucans are much brigher than coots.

    1. In the case of these Coots, I think what started it was the fact that Coots start nesting before Mute Swans do, and the artificial island was available. And then, for some reason, the swans left them alone, so the Coots got into the habit. But see above for what a swan will do to a Coot unprovoked, simply because it's in a bad temper.

    2. Red-Breasted Geese often nest, even form nesting colonies, close to the nests of Peregrines and other large birds of prey, and research found the geese suffer less Arctic Fox predation. The same birds of prey are predators of the geese in other contexts. I have also heard of tits nesting in the same tree as kestrels, and rabbit burrows close to fox family dens, which the foxes generally leave alone. Jim

    3. Thanks for the information.

  2. Replies
    1. Taken in very dim light under trees, so with very high ISO which has made it grainy. But the pose is fun.

    2. Had to come back just to agree! The pose is so fun. Plucky little bird.