Sunday 21 April 2024

All paired up at Mount Gate

A Magpie perched in a tree at Mount Gate. A Robin below was alarmed by this and gave the high-pitched 'predator above' call that small songbirds have in common.

A Coal Tit was not particularly bothered and came to my hand several times to take pine nuts.

The male Blackbird was rootling around on the edge of the path ....

... then went into the undergrowth and started digging in the leaves. I managed to get him to take a sultana thrown on the ground.

A pair of Wood Pigeons perched on the fence. All the birds at Mount Gate are now in pairs, including the Magpies.

This is Tom's picture of the distant Swift seen yesterday over the Serpentine. There was one again today, even farther away, and one martin also so far off that it was impossible to see if it was Sand or House. There will be more soon.

At the Dell restaurant Pigeon Eater had just struck again, and was enjoying a late Sunday lunch with his mate.

At the east end of the island two Grey Herons stood together in the new nest on the left while the chicks in the nest on the right clattered their bills loudly, demanding to be fed.

One of the young herons from the first nest was fishing in the reeds below the Italian Garden.

The Coots in the southwest fountain pool still have their nine chicks.  Their survival is due to the place not being much visited by big gulls.

However, the Coot nest under the bridge was apparently predated, it's not clear what by, and three eggs were taken. The Coots have now returned and are trying again.

The Mute Swan nesting at the Serpentine outflow was turning her eggs. You could see seven.

The Canada Goose is still steadfastly sitting on her nest on the raft in the Long Water. It will be three weeks before we see any result.

The single Egyptian gosling at the Lido is getting its first proper feathers and looks very untidy.

The Mallards were looking after their five ducklings on the swan nest at the boathouse, which was temporarily deserted by the swans.

A pair of Tufted Ducks dived together in the Serpentine. They weren't actually hunting cooperatively as Great Crested Grebes or Cormorants do when fishing, as their prey is small molluscs and insect larvae which don't run away.

A patch of green alkanet by the bridge attracted an Early Bumblebee ...

... and a Honeybee.


  1. He looks anguished. That birds and humans should have very similar facial expressions always does my head in.
    Glad to see the Swifts have arrived. Pretty soon they'll be there in force, enough to take pictures more easily.

    1. It's the way the Robin shifts nervously, I think. Humans do exactly the same.

  2. Hi ralph.what a Shame about the poor coot !!.the Egyptian gosling is coming on well..I have two questions this evening the bird ID app "merlin" any good? And magpies kill blackbird chicks ?...thanks.regards,Stephen...

    1. I only recently installed Merlin on my phone. It seems very accurate about the birds I've tried, using the British module of course. It's also easy to use. It's free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it.

      I'm sure Magpies can eat Blackbird chicks, but they'd have to get through an all-out attack by the parents first. I've more than once seen Mistle Thrushes defending their nests against Magpies by furiously buzzing the invaders in a constant series of low-level sweeps, and actually succeeding in driving them off. But corvids' intelligence allows them to plan and execute a sneak attack, and I've also seen a Mistle Thrush nest that has been predated by a Magpie and the chicks eaten. So it can go either way.

    2. I once chased off a magpie that had caught hold of an adult hen blackbird, which escaped minus a patch of skin on its breast. Jim

    3. This afternoon I saw a furious Blackbird in the Flower Walk completely rout a Jay.

  3. Can anyone else answer those questions ? Thanks,Stephen .

    1. Firstly Merlin is good (as Ralph said make sure you have it on UK settings for here) but not infallible. It will sometimes get it wrong. If it suggests something particularly unusual make sure you can verify it before claiming it!

      Magpies & other corvids will routinely predate eggs/chicks of other species including Blackbirds. They have chicks of their own to feed. Sadly Blackbirds, certainly in London are down due to a number of factors so it doesn't help, but the Magpie is just doing what it's programmed to do.

  4. Nice little assortment of hirundines late this afternoon (6-7pm) over and to the east of the Lido - a few swallows, maybe 6-10 martins (definitely house martins) and maybe four to five swifts. Good views of them in the afternoon light from the bridge.

    1. Good. There should be enough soon to get some pictures. It's a very hit-and-miss job, so you need a good number.

  5. Hi Ralph thanks for your advice RE. The merlin app, which I installed yesterday.the reason for the magpie/blackbird question was , I saw a magpie carry off a blackbird chick yesterday morning, I just wondered whether the magpie was directly responsible ? .most upsetting to see..blackbirds are the most lovely sounding birds, as you once mentioned,stephen...