Saturday 5 March 2022

Herring Gull and Coot tug-o'-war

A Robin in the Rose Garden put up with the rain, though it had to shake off the drops. It managed a bit of song too.

A Wren stared crossly from the next bush.

Long-Tailed Tits' nests seem to be going up everywhere, though only the one in the gorse bush is visible to humans. Today I saw birds clearly building a nest in the bushes at the back of Peter Pan, and others in the shrubbery at the bottom of the Triangle car park. This is one of the second pair.

Work was under way at the bottom of the Parade Ground and the Redwings had flown up into the trees.

I found a Jay feather with a beautiful blue pattern on it.

These coloured feathers are the primary wing coverts, and some of the secondary coverts as well. From this edge-on picture you can see that there are two sets.

A female Pied Wagtail hunted at the Lido. She is one of the pair that has settled on the south shore of the Serpentine. At 0.27" she was alarmed by the sound of a bicycle falling over and decided to fly away.

But before that she had caught a midge.

A different female was on the boat platform, which is now deserted and covered with droppings. These attract insects, so the place has become a hunting ground for insect-eating birds.

At the far end of the platform, a Herring Gull tried to snatch a twig from a Coot that is building a nest under the platform. The Coot won the tug-o'-war.

A Black-Headed Gull had a wash.

The young Grey Herons looked out of their nest. They are becoming restless and will soon be climbing around in the trees -- worrying to watch because a false move will send them crashing to the ground and they won't be able to get up again. But they are very sure-footed and I've never seen one fall.

Last year's young heron has taken firm possession of the Dell. The previous adult was becoming too pushy at the restaurant and, like another heron before it, has suddenly disappeared. We are not told about such events, but herons are protected at all times under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the park people are scrupulous about the law, so they were probably kidnapped and transferred to some other water far enough away to stop them from finding their way home.

Abigail photographed this female Mute Swan which had been chased on shore by a dominant male and had wandered up to the bridge. We do know what happened to her. A policeman kindly but firmly chivvied her down to the Vista. If the dominant swan bother here again she can fly away.

A female Mallard balanced insecurely on a loose bit of plastic netting.


  1. The feather was a traditional adornment to a country chap's trilby hat, tucked into the hatband.

    1. Very jaunty. To show he was a bit of a lad, I suppose.

  2. Jays' blue feathers are so lovely. I guess it must not fulfil the same purpose iridiscence in Ravens and Magpies does, to draw the attention of bigger carnivores that will better tear open carcasses.

    Is the Robin apprehensive about the Chiffchaff singing in the background? It does look to listen attentively before singing its own bit.

    She does look a bit sorry for herself, the poor thing. I hope the dominant swan leaves her alone.

    1. I hadn't heard that idea about the iridescence of Ravens and Magpies. Ravens deliberately associate with wolves and lead them to possible prey so that they can share it.

      That's a Coal Tit singing in the background. I think Robins do wait for other birds to stop before they start singing. But they wouldn't feel challenged by a smaller bird.

      That swan shouldn't have gone on to the Long Water anyway, with the old horror there and it being the breeding season. Perhaps she's learnt her lesson.

    2. I heard that in a famous wildlife series here called "El hombre y la tierra". The naturalist who narrated the series claimed that the iridescence in magpies and ravens was so that vultures spotted them from above. The rationale being that they can't open big carcasses on their own power and need a larger necrophagous animal to tear it open so that they can afterwards eat the leftovers.

    3. Perhaps, if you have a vulture's eyesight.