Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Australian Wood Ducks

Two female Australian Wood Ducks (aka Maned Geese, but they are really ducks) turned up unexpectedly on the Serpentine. 

They are about the size of a large Mallard, and beautifully marked. They're descended from ornamental park birds, of course, but are now moving around in small numbers.

We had a drake at the Round Pond in 2015. They don't have much of a mane, just a line of small feathers on the back of the neck that they can put up.

He was remarkably aggressive and used to beat up the Egyptian Geese.

Back to today and the Serpentine. The Egyptians with the two youngest goslings were ruffled by a brisk wind.

The three teenage Mute cygnets cruised near the bridge.

They aren't bothered by the other swans because their father is the terror of the west end of the Serpentine -- though he did meet his match with the dominant swan on the Long Water.

A loose group of three Great Crested Grebes were peaceful with each other, a sign that they had just flown in. When on the move they abandon their usual territorial behaviour for a while.

A fourth was a short way off but clearly part of the group. A resident grebe would be displaying at the new arrivals.

A female Mandarin crossed the Long Water near the Vista. It's hard to know whether the Mandarins we see here are residents or just short-term visitors. They spend more time ashore than other ducks and remain unseen in the bushes.

The tatty Blue Tit in the Flower Walk is looking tattier than ever after raising young. She will grow some new feathers in the autumn but will never be a tidy bird. However, she has been around for some time and seems to be doing well enough.

Mark Williams sent a pleasing picture of a Long-Tailed Tit in St James's Park.

A prettily marked Feral Pigeon reclined on the path near the bridge.

This is a view from the back window of my flat. The holes in the wall made for the balanced flue of gas boilers are, when the flue is removed, just the right size for pigeons, and I have a noisy family banging around outside the window.

I disturbed a small brown moth near the Italian Garden. Conehead 54 tells me it's a Rush Veneer Moth, a migrant species of which there are a fair amount about at the moment.

There was also a shining Greenbottle fly on a dead leaf.


  1. You have extremely pretty neighbours. It could be much worse.

    I don't know how that Blue Tit manages to survive. It is a miracle - I just can't fathom that it can fly and keep feather insulation in such a pitifully poor state. Resilient little thing.

    I have never seen Australian Wood Ducks: they look inordinately pretty.

    1. I don't mind the pigeons, except when they get into a fight with the pigeon family next door and try to murder each other on my window sill.

      The Australian Wood Ducks were remarkably unworried by people. You can't always distinguish between birds that have lived in parks and those that haven't seen people enough to be frightened of them. But they didn't expect to be fed.

  2. Interesting to see the Maned Ducks there. Though I'm familiar with them I don't recall seeing them as escapes before. I did see a photo of a pair somewhere a couple of days ago, so perhaps the same pair wandering?

    Your moth isn't a Codling Moth but a Rush Veneer. This is a migrant species that seems to be around in some numbers at the moment. When I went for an early morning walk yesterday in our local country park I disturbed one in the grass.

  3. Thanks for the moth identification.

    I suppose the ducks are the offspring of birds in the St James's or Regent's Park collections, and have gone off for a bit of a wander. And probably the earlier drake arrived in the same way. I haven't heard of even a small feral population as, for example, with Red-Crested Pochards.