Monday, 19 April 2021

A Grey Wagtail collected a beakful of insects at the Lido restaurant. There must be a nest somewhere, but I've seen no sign of this being in the usual place by the Dell waterfall.

Blackcaps were singing all around the Long Water.

A female Blackcap perched in a hawthorn tree.

A Cetti's Warbler sang near the bridge. They are almost impossible to photograph as they lurk in the undergrowth and dash from one patch to another, but Clive Murgatroyd managed a fleeting shot. It's typical in these hasty photographs that the autofocus latched on to the flower in the foreground rather than the bird behind it, but if you used manual focus you wouldn't get a picture at all.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull's mate had her share of the latest victim. He was off chasing away some Herring Gulls.

The kind staff of Bluebird Boats took me out in a powerboat to see what was happening on the island. Here we are approaching the west end of the island, giving a good view of two Grey Heron nests.

The three young Grey Herons were standing up in the nest, looking rather like Giacometti sculptures.

There is now a second Grey Heron nest with chicks, two by the sound of it. It's impossible to see much of what's going on, but you can get a glimpse of movement on the right side.

Several herons were chasing each other around the Long Water. A teenager did a steep banking turn.

A second pair of Mute Swans has nested on the island, on the opposite side to avoid conflict with the first pair.

The Egyptian Goose mother with the blond goslings basked in the sunshine with her brood. There was no sign of the aggressive male who expelled their blond father, and it's possible that he has gone off to harass another bird.

The Mallard mother has managed to hang on to her five ducklings for another day, but she faces heavy odds.

A Coot was making a nest in a hopelessly exposed place on the edge of the Serpentine. Their nesting instinct is so strong that even if they can't find a good place they go ahead anyway.

There is some remarkable Coot news. A bird ringed by Bill Haines on the Round Pond in 2017, ring code white FJX, has turned up in St Petersburg. It was photographed on the ice at Pulkovskiy Park on 9 April. This is only the fourth sighting of a UK-ringed Coot in Russia.

Mateusz at Bluebird Boats showed me a Moorhen in one of the powerboats.

She has got into the bottom of the control console and made a nest there.

It's unsure whether any chicks will survive, but they will certainly be able to climb over the transom at the stern as they are amazingly agile from the moment they are hatched.

He also hauled up a basket full of Turkish Crayfish. All the females had eggs.

He always puts them back in the lake, after which they crawl back into the baskets again although these are not baited, seeking safety in numbers.


  1. Oh my God, what a long haul for that Coot! I didn't even know they were able to fly so far. May a British bird now living in a Russian park bring good will and harmony to all.

    Not my place to say, but I am so glad that Mateusz is back to operating Bluebird Boats and that you can still be taken in their boats to unreachable corners. A good sign. All may still turn up well in the end.

    1. It does seem extraordinary, looking at a dumpy short-winged Coot, to think of them migrating so far. Even crossing the Channel would seem beyond their power. You never see them flying more than a short low hop. But they fly at night, so we never see their ability.

    2. I've been thinking - maybe it swam part of the way? Is that even possible?

    3. Unlikely, as they are not very good at swimming. But, with a tremendous effort, they could get across the Channel in a single nocturnal flight, and then rest before doing the rest of the journey in easy hops along the coastal marshes.

  2. Quite an amazing journey by that Coot. This year some have turn up at locations near me where I didn't see any last year.

    Good to see the Herons prospering.

    1. Keeping my fingers crossed for the young herons. This is a dangerous place with a road running along the shore, and last year's only youngster to reach independence was killed by a cyclist.

    2. How horrible. How did that happen? Did the cyclist lose control of his bike? Poor naive heron. Sad to say, sometimes being as distrustful and on edge as our Herons continually are will save their lives.

    3. The park herons have become far too trustful of humans, and it has been their undoing more than once.