Friday 7 June 2024

Heron goes for a swim

The young Grey Heron that is the sibling of the rescued one was in the willow near the bridge, perhaps missing its sister. It deliberately flew down into the water, to the astonishment of a couple of Coots.

It swam around for several minutes before taking off and returning to the tree. This video was shot looking down from the bridge.

You occasionally see a Grey Heron swimming when it's been wading and accidentally got out of its depth, but I've never before seen one doing it on purpose.

A Coot with three small chicks preened in the algae below the wall of the Italian Garden, and the chicks copied it. Preening is infectious, like yawning for humans.

A young Moorhen wandered along the edge of the Serpentine on improbably large feet.

The killer Mute Swan brought his cygnets to the Vista to tout for food. He knows just how irresistible they are.

The four youngest Egyptian goslings were at the landing stage under the watchful eyes of their parents. When they wandered away their mother called them back. She is unusually attentive for an Egyptian, which explains the survival of her young.

Pigeon Eater, absent for some days, was back in his usual place.

The male Little Owl was in the same horse chestnut as yesterday, keeping an eye on the dead tree where we suppose his mate is nesting. No sound of owlets yet. They are breeding later than usual, maybe because of the need to get rid of the squirrels and Stock Doves in the tree.

A Jay landed in a birch behind the statue of Peter Pan.

A handsomely marked Feral Pigeon strolled around near the Dell.

A young Robin perched on a bush in the Flower Walk.

The Goldcrest that is often heard in a yew at Mount Gate put in an appearance.

One of the Blue Tit pair here looked out from a Hypericum bush.

Mark Williams, at the Welsh Harp reservoir, got a better picture of a young Blackcap than I managed yesterday.

Jin Yucheng was visiting Skomer and sent a pleasing photograph of a Puffin bringing sandeels to its young.

Back in the park, a Brown-Lipped Snail climbed to the top of a spike in the railings near the Italian Garden. If I had been able to ask it why, it would probably have given the answer of George Mallory as to why he wanted to climb Everest: 'Because it's there.'

I'm always getting bumblebees wrong, but I think this one on a Stachys in the Rose Garden is a Vestal Cuckoo Bee.

The Serpentine Gallery pavilion is open.

Designed by Minsuk Cho, it is called Archipelagic Void and its principal feature is a gap in the middle. There is a snack bar at the far right corner but nowhere to sit, as an opposite section with one long bench has been roped off. Behind it is a stall from the gallery bookshop. You might want to wander through the structure to appreciate the intersection of planes or something, but you can't because most of it is blocked with ropes.


  1. Hi Ralph, what a lovely little video you made of the heron swimming..I've never seen that before either....good that you DID actually receive some assistance from the park staff after all.....very welcome, I bet it was !!..that serpentine gallery thing is really sharp contrast to nature's beauty.....keep up the good work..regards, Stephen....

    1. Yes, that pavilion is hideous and would be pointless if it wasn't so pointy. But it is not the worst. I think that dubious accolade must go to Daniel Libeskind's abominable tin shack of 2001. The catalogue of infamy up to 2022 -- with the occasional success: Ito's pavilion of 2002 was a lovely place to be in, and last year's by Lina Ghotmeh was delicate and pretty and made clever use of cantilevers -- can be seen here,

    2. PS -- a special award for hopelessness must go to the 2016 effort by the Bjarke Ingels group which sagged dangerously and should have been closed and dismantled. It was somehow (guess how?) passed after a structural survey and just managed not to fall down during its few months' run.

  2. .... Why would that monstrosity be called "Archipelagic Void"? We'd be much better off if we have the coots free reign to design the Serpentine Gallery pavilion.
    I've never seen a Heron go for a swim. Never, ever. It's an incredible video.
    How does the killer swan behave around humans? Is he aggressive?

    1. *gave, not have

    2. I suppose it's called 'Archipelagic Void' because it has five lumps around a central hole, and because the feebler the work, the grander the title it needs.

      I haven't -- so far -- seen the swan attacking a human who annoyed him. Usually a hiss from this enormous creature will deter anyone trying to tease him. He has a short way with dogs, which invariably flee.

  3. Hi again Ralph, I will try and send you a video of that black kite IS a stunning looking raptor......regards,Stephen....

  4. Thanks, I look forward to seeing this.

  5. Agree Ralph that you have a Vestal Cuckoo Bee on the Stachys.

    Lovely shot of the fledged Blackcap. I cam across a family party yesterday in Walpole Park, Ealing while doing my BBS survey.

    Handsome Feral Pigeon for sure.

    1. It's been a good year for Blackcaps. A few weeks ago during the peak song season there were lots of males singing their little heads off all over Kensington Gardens. I think they were dispersed by the vandalistic park management destroying the large bramble patch that used to be their headquarters, but that encouraged them to spread out more widely.

      Feral Pigeons may be as common as dirt but some of their colour schemes are very striking, and the iridescent green on this one is very fine.

  6. The continuing defacement of Hyde Park/The Gardens should be a source of shame to everyone involved - but obviously, they have no sense of shame to begin with *grr!* Mark

    1. The park management are sadly in thrall to the Serpentine Gallery. They daren't oppose it because it's Ah Tiss Tick.

  7. If only they put up a viewing tower in that location it would be in prime position for...