Wednesday 21 December 2022

Herons start to nest

On the Serpentine island the first pair of Grey Herons are starting to repair their nest. It's quite usual for herons to nest in midwinter, though the ones in the park often dither for months before actually getting down to breeding. We had just one early brood last year followed by two late ones.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden rested in the shelter of purple loosestrife stems, then got up and had a preen. It's now completely unworried by people with cameras.

This is Tom's video of the Water Rail in Essex that I missed two days ago.

A pair of Moorhens stood on a chain at the bridge.

The Black-Headed Gull who owns the landing stage was on a post conveniently placed for him to watch over his territory. He stretched his wings.

The affectionate pair of Herring Gulls were moaning mildly at each other in their usual place on the south side of the Serpentine.

A pair of Gadwalls travelled briskly past on their way to a feeding ground.

The new pair of Mute Swans had returned to the Italian Garden the upper of their two territories. Their pairing has united two kingdoms, like a royal wedding.

The rejected female had been driven down to the gravel strip and was moping there. At least she hasn't gone into a physical decline as sad swans often do. She will recover.

There was a 'Polish' swan at the Dell restaurant. Adults look fairly normal, but have pinkish-grey feet instead of the usual near-black and often a slightly pale bill. But they have white cygnets, which are most conspicuous. The genetic trait is recessive and sex-linked, so that Polish females -- like this one -- are commoner than males.

The Little Owl at the Round Pond was still skulking at the back of his hole, in spite of the mild weather and occasional sun.

I couldn't see the Speke owls either, though Neil reported seeing one looking out of the nest hole.

Three Blue Tits came to my hand in quick succession in the Flower Walk. They included the tatty one.

This is one of the smart ones, looking very dapper.

The usual Coal Tits ...

... and Chaffinches were also present.

Long-Tailed Tits flew through the treetops beside the Serpentine.

Two Buff-Tailed Bumblebees were feeding in the mahonia bush in the Rose Garden.


  1. Now that I know the tatty Blue Tit has just the avian equivalent of frizzy hair gene I'm less worried. It may not look pretty, but it gets the work of keeping warm and airworthy done.
    Well done on Tom for capturing the very, very elusive Water Rail!
    I don't think I have ever seen such a clear glimpse of the private life of a Little Grebe before!

    1. I am absolutely amazed by how close you can get to that Little Grebe. It's just stopped taking any notice of people. Of course for a grebe the shore might as well be another planet, but there are vast aliens lurching around on it.

  2. Delightful footage of the Little Grebe. Quite a bit of Yellow Flag Iris as well as the dead Purple Loosestrife stems. A good platform for it.

    1. Irises, Purple Loosestrife and self-seeded Great Willowherb all flourish in these soggy planters. It would be a good idea for the park people to encourage them in the ugly baskets around the Serpentine island. Seeds of the last two can be got for £2.99 a packet, so it would hardly be a major expense. I mentioned this to Hugh the former wildlife officer, but he left soon afterwards. We still don't have a new one.

  3. Sounds like a good idea, Ralph.