Tuesday 8 September 2020

The two younger Great Crested Grebe chicks from the island were fishing together. One of them brought up a small crayfish. This is not a very appetising morsel, and they are still being fed plentifully by their parents, so they played with it for a while until one of them ate it, moments before a Black-Headed Gull swooped down to grab it.

The Black Swan followed first a female Mute Swan ...

... then a male.

It's hard to know what's going on here, and we still don't know what sex the Black Swan is here. It's possible that it can't tell the difference between a male and a female Mute Swan, or maybe it's just lonely and wants a bit of companionship.

Good news from Duncan Campbell, who has been watching the Egyptian Geese at Marble Arch for 20 weeks since they first came in, with the goslings walking across the almost deserted road during the worst of the lockdown. All seven surviving young are now flying in and out of the park freely. There is abundant grass for them in the park -- here is Duncan's picture one of the two pale teenagers enjoying it. The next two pictures are also his.

They still visit their old home. They are creatures of habit, as can be shown by the fact that Blondie spends almost all her time less than a hundred yards from where she was hatched. Here are some of them flying out of the park to return to Marble Arch.

And here are the parents in a plane tree in Hyde Park.

A Grey Heron in the Dell shook out its feathers, something that herons often do to make themselves comfortable.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull had just got another victim.

A handsome bronze Feral Pigeon sunbathed on Buck Hill.

The usual Grey Wagtail was back at the little pool in the Dell.

A pair of Blackcaps are often seen beside the Long Water a few yards north of Peter Pan.

A Wren wandered around in a flower bed in the Rose Garden.

Starlings waited on the Lido restaurant terrace, hoping that a table would become empty and they could grab leftovers. If you feed one of them, of course more will arrive on your table at once.

Another picture by Tom from Wanstead Flats, of a Common Sandpiper.

It's odd how rich this area is in wildlife. Most of it is barren football fields, with a little bit of scrub and a pond at one end and a clump of trees at the other.

One of the Monkeypuzzle trees near the Rose Garden is putting out cones. Mario tells me that these are male cones, which produce pollen.

Monkeypuzzles normally produce either male or female cones, unlike their nearest relative the Wollemi Pine which has both. These trees are extremely archaic and have been described as 'living fossils'; indeed the Wollemi Pine was thought to have been extinct for millions of years before living trees were discovered in Australia in 1994. The Monkeypuzzle came to the notice of Europeans in the early 1780s in Chile.


  1. I think those monkey puzzle cones are male.

    1. Thank you. They were puzzling me as well as the monkeys, since I couldn't find any adequate visual reference online.

  2. I never understood how trees can be male or female. It really boggles my mind.

    It must not have been easy to catch that small crayfish, so I am hopeful about the young ones' skills.

    The Black Swan is feeling very confused, I imagine... Corvus' rook Chicken only found out it was female when it laid its first egg.

    1. Esther Woolfson called her rook Madame Chickeboumskaya, Chicken for short, because she didn't know its sex. The name is that of the drag role of a male dancer who was an early member of the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and so would have been equally appropriate if the rook had turned out to be male.