Thursday 26 May 2022

Better news about the Mute Swans and Mandarins

The Tawny Owl was in his usual place again ...

... a good omen, for I found to my relief that I was wrong about some of the losses on the lake. The Mute Swans at the Lido still have six cygnets -- the others must have been lurking in the nest as their parents came out with just three yesterday. However, the pair on the Long Water really do have only five now.

Yesterday I thought the last three Mandarin ducklings had been lost, as their mother was at the edge of the lake without them. But there they were today racing to catch midges under a tree. Their careless mother was nowhere to be seen.

While on the subject of ducks, here is an interesting picture that Caroline Reay sent me of a group of Eiders on the island of Mull. This species has never been seen in the park, not surprisingly.

The two Canada Goose families have now completely merged into one family of five goslings with four parents to guard them. Canada Geese have this useful habit, but Greylag families remain separate.

Egyptian goslings crept into the shelter of their mother on a windy day.

The Coots' nest at the bridge has seven chicks in it. Their parents were busy feeding them.

The three Coot chicks in the Italian Garden can now get in and out of the planter where their parents have built a new nest for them, thanks to a hole cut in the netting by the Wildlife Officer Drew Love-Jones. One was helping the parents to add twigs to the nest -- evidently the very strong nest building instinct of Coots is present at a very early age.

A Grey Heron at the Vista was completely unmoved by irresponsible dog owners throwing balls into the lake. At one point there were ten dogs going into the lake, eight of them in the charge of dog walkers who will lose their licences if the police see them breaking the park regulations.

A Herring Gull at the Dell restaurant had unusual dark eyes. It was playing with a stick. There is a slight trace of lingering juvenile plumage, so it seems to be a three-year-old bird not quite fully adult and slow to change its eye colour.

There were the remains of a Feral Pigeon on the shore. It looks as if the adult Herring Gull who has taken over the role of pigeon killer here has been successful again. But he's not nearly as good at it as the famous Lesser Black-Back.

The House Martins have turned up at last, only a few of them flying around the French and Kuwaiti embassies and not yet going into their nest holes in the plasterwork.

I was very sorry to see that the Kuwaitis have put wire mesh over the holes at the front of their building. The French have already blocked up all their nest holes. A few holes are left on the sides of the Kuwaiti building, enough for the birds to use. But this kind of behaviour is not at all helpful. It can't be stopped because both buildings are diplomatic premises and the owners can do what they like.

Mark Williams got a picture of the Reed Warbler near the Italian Garden. It was singing as I passed but remained hidden in the reeds.

There are so many midges over the stream in the Dell that a Grey Wagtail can simply stand on a rock and grab them as they pass.

Young Starlings in the Rose Garden begged loudly from a lime tree while their parents visited a mahonia bush to find berries for them. Most of the berries have already been picked.

A family of Blackcaps beside the Long Water were also making quite a racket. I got three rather distant pictures of the father feeding a chick.

Another good picture from Mark of a Blue Tit taking food from his hand.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee visited a foxtail lily in the Rose Garden.

Duncan Campbell found this grey bee which he thinks is an Ashy Mining Bee, Andrena cineraria.


  1. Will be visiting on Saturday to look for those blackcaps! :) Mark

    1. East side of the Long Water, moving between the Steiner bench and Henry Moore.

  2. To be pedantic, the shrub visited by the starlings is not a berberis bush, but Japanese Mahonia (Mahonia japonica)

    1. Thanks for the correction. I always get confused by these two and generally choose the wrong one.

  3. Good news about the mandarins, I'm hoping to visit the park in June and it would be great to see a little flock (I'm not hopeful). I wonder if writing to the Kuwait embassy would help?

    1. I doubt it. It was they who blocked up the holes, knowing perfectly well what they were doing.

    2. Well, I can't find an e-mail address for them anyway and there are comments on several websites that their phone is never answered...

    3. Sounds normal for the parasites who infest us all, no matter what our nationality.

  4. What a great series of pictures and videos! Lots of things to see.
    Oddly enough, our local greylag/domestic geese have also adpopted the useful Canada habit of merging families. Last weekend we saw over 10 youngsters being carefully watched and shepherded by four adults, two white, two grey birds.

    1. Good for those geese. I've never seen Greylag families unite here.