Sunday 20 August 2023

Massacre on the Long Water

The murderous Mute Swan from the Serpentine has killed the resident female on the Long Water. The poor victim was found floating this morning. He has very likely killed the male too, and one of the cygnets, but no bodies have been found. He did a lap of triumph on the Long Water but didn't even bother to bring his mate and cygnets in, soon going back to them on the Serpentine.

The surviving cygnet was on the Serpentine near the east end. I am told that the other swans are not bothering it, but the same can't be said for the horrible male.

I am wondering whether a transfer to the Round Pond would be a good idea. There is one cygnet here with its mother, refugees from the Serpentine, and it's uncertain whether she would tolerate a cygnet that didn't belong to her. But at least it wouldn't have a powerful enemy bent on killing it.

All was quiet on the Great Crested Grebe nest by the bridge. Two chicks were resting and the third was out of the picture under the willow.

The four chicks farther up the lake were together with one parent while the other fished for them.

A Coot on the Serpentine had been given a piece of apple, which it liked. Apples seem to be far and away the most popular fruit with a wide range of birds. I've read that chimpanzees also prefer apples to bananas.

A Moorhen contemplated the five youngest Egyptian teenagers. Their primary feathers are almost fully grown and they will be flying soon.

The old Grey Heron at the Henry Moore sculpture was resting its weary legs again. It is having a comfortable old age. It can still walk and fly and scare off its young rival, and people are feeding it.

A heron in the Italian Garden bristled with indignation after missing a fish in the water lilies.

A Cormorant at Peter Pan struck a dramatic attitude.

Rose-Ringed Parakeets ignored the swarming wasps on the apples on the railings and ate their fill.

It took two visits to find the male Little Owl at the Round Pond.

One of the three young Blackbirds in the Rose Garden could be seen on a branch in the shrubbery.

A Blue Tit perched among pyracantha berries in the Flower Walk.

I don't know why this squirrel in the Dell was making such a song and dance. There was no other squirrel in sight, and no predator that I could see.

A warm day brought out a Common Darter dragonfly to bask on a stone kerb in the Italian Garden ...

... and there was a Blue-Tailed Damselfly on the parapet.

The Helenium in the Rose Garden is wilting, but still attracting a lot of Honeybees.


  1. Dragonflies were very interesting but... I am so sad about the swans! Poor swans, I hope something quite terrible happens to the bully

    1. Sad to say, he's just doing what a dominant swan does. We have had long periods in the past when a single pair has exerted a reign of terror over the whole lake, and now we're back to that state.

  2. There’s a new boss in town!

  3. I'm still trying to rationalise a swan doing that. Will the empire provide new territories for its offspring or blood relations? Whereas in many territorial songbirds, I suspect it pays to have conspecific neighbours whether related or not.
    In the pic of the moorhen and Egyptian geese, are you saying that one of the latter is significantly older?
    I've never observed a bird express annoyance at missing prey before, that's another behaviour worthy of journal attention. Jim

    1. I think swans are like Alexander the Great, a drive to conquer but no idea of what to do afterwards.

      I should have written 'five', not 'four'. Sorry. They're all the same age. Text changed.

      The moment of the heron raising its hackles (if that's the word) was very brief. My camera was taking 3 pictures a second and this was the only frame that showed it.

  4. I'm glad I missed this yesterday. What a horrid scene. It must have been dreadful. I still believe there is some sort of abormality in that swan's makeup. Or maybe it's just he's strong enough to carry out murdering impulses that other swans cannot by virtue of being weaker, not better.

    1. Yes, I think it's a matter of strength. All swans would do this if they could, and only the balance of terror keeps them down.