Thursday, 3 May 2012
A pair of Red Crested Pochards near the Serpentine island have 5 ducklings. These fair-sized diving ducks, which are not native but are beginning to settle in, don't manage to breed every year in the park. A few years ago one pair managed to raise four young, in spite of the marauding gulls.
The Greylag Geese now only have three goslings, which I found at the Lido. They are much more protective parents than ducks, and it was bad luck to lose two so early.
I think that the Great Crested Grebes nesting at the east end of the island are hatching their eggs. The bird on the nest was sitting with its wings slightly raised, a reliable sign that there are baby birds crawling around its back. I watched for a while but didn't see any little stripy heads poking out. Will keep watching.
The very long time that the Mute Swans at the Lido have spent on their nest is explained: they lost their first clutch of eggs to a fox. So it will be some time before they hatch their next lot, if they are lucky. Probably the same thing happend to the nest on the east side of the Long Water, which is now deserted. Two nests on the Serpentine island, safe from foxes, are on the go, but the third one has probably failed. Two nests so close are quite enough to cause some serious fighting. The nest at the Serpentine outflow is still in good order.
All three Grey Herons' nests on the island are active, and the two later ones probably already have eggs. The two young birds in the first nest have still not dared to leave.
There were about 50 Swifts and 15 House Martins over the Round Pond. Another 30 Swifts were over the Serpentine; I didn't see any House Martins among them. As I walked along the edge, occasionally a Swift would whizz by a few feet away, sometimes only inches off the ground. They are a wonderful sight, seeming more than alive.
Most of the Tawny Owl family were in a cluster at the top of their nest tree, with the male parent and, I think, one owlet, in one of the trees at the front. The Little Owl was intermittently visible in his current favourite tree. I met someone who said that he had heard one of the other Little Owls calling from a tree near the Bayswater Road. I have never managed to see this pair.
Update: Stephen reports seeing a Kingfisher crossing the Long Water offshore from Peter Pan. This is where they are most often seen, but you have to be lucky to catch the brief flash of blue.