Monday, 6 June 2022

Young Starlings becoming independent

Young Starlings in the Dell bickered about who would get the last fruit on a mahonia bush. One inexpert feeder dropped a berry.

But a short way off a young Starling was still following a parent around begging to be fed.

A Great Tit fed several chicks in the Flower Walk, giving them pine nuts I had supplied.

A Robin with a family nearby also came to my hand for a pine nut ...

... while a Chaffinch in the flower bed below rummaged through fallen seed heads.

A Magpie posed against a background of yellow holly leaves.

A Blackbird was also looking ornamental in a red-leafed cherry tree ...

... while on the east side of the Long Water another Blackbird had found real cherries on the path, probably torn out of the tree and dropped by the ravaging Rose-Ringed Parakeets which destroy far more than they eat.

A Greenfinch was eating something unidentifiable but clearly full of seeds. It was certainly not the fruit of the tree it was in, which is a laurel and, although closely related to the cherry, deadly poisonous.

The Tawny Owl was in his customary place, still looking a bit damp. He must have been hunting in last night's rain.

A pair of Grey Herons and a Carrion Crow pointedly ignored each other on the Henry Moore sculpture.

There's a new Great Crested Grebe nest opposite Peter Pan. By now there should be plenty of small fish to feed several chicks.

Unlike Moorhens, Coots are seldom seen climbing trees, but this one had got quite high up in the willow near the bridge.

There are still six Coot chicks in the nest near the bridge. A parent dived to bring up food for two of them.

There's a new cygnet on the Mute Swan's nest at the small boathouse -- just one, as far as I could see. She has surprised us by producing anything at all. We thought her eggs had been taken, but swans are very good at hiding them.

It's still quite cold, and six Egyptian goslings huddled together for warmth in two heaps. Woken by their mother calling, one decided to join the other heap.

Yesterday I had a picture of the last survivor of a brood of Canada x Greylag Goose hybrids that had been in the park for years. But now a new pair of hybrids has turned up on the Serpentine to moult.

Blondie is also moulting. She was in her usual place near the Dell restaurant looking blonder than ever.


  1. It looks like little Egyptians feel the cold more than other goslings do, right? I guess their genetic makeup still prepares them for Africa.

    Considering how large swan eggs are, it is quite a feat for them to keep them hidden.

    1. I think you're right about the Egyptians.

      It's particularly remarkable that the swan managed to hide her egg (or eggs, with luck) in a shallow pile of twigs and rubbish on a hard surface.

  2. You've commented before on Woodpigeons eating laurel fruit whole. As also regarding yews, a plant with an attractive fleshy fruit wouldn't stand the test of time if it killed off absolutely everything so enticed to ingest the seeds, even if it gained a temporary advantage thus.
    I read that provided the seeds are removed, the flesh of cherry laurel fruit can be humanly edible if not bitter-tasting, which would indicate significant cyanide. I do not fancy putting this to the test. Jim

    1. I've heard that pigeons of all kinds are pretty resistant to all kinds of plant toxins. A Wood Pigeon would need to be, considering its diet.

      The Greenfinch has what look like small seeds stuck to its beak. These wouldn't have come from a laurel fruit, which has a single stone like that of any Prunus species.

  3. I can't wait to photograph some birds in Hyde Park. A family visit is a convenient excuse.
    I have already procured some pine nuts. What other treats would be adequate for the birds that come to eat from hands?
    Also, is there a good place in London to see some slightly tamer little grebes. I have heard of Battersea park. Are they still there?
    Thanks for the answers...

    1. Raw peanuts in the shell are popular with all corvids. Waterfowl of all sizes like them shelled but still raw. It's easy enough to shell a couple of peanuts on the spot rather than carrying around a separate supply.

      I seldom visit Battersea Park and don't know about Little Grebes there. It's usually possible to see one in St James's Park, though they seem to be declining there. I've also seen them in Regent's park quite often, around the island in the lake and along that strange dead-end canal that extends eastward from the lake.

    2. Thanks a lot for the information.