Friday, 1 March 2013
There was a Wren poking around on the path in the Flower Walk, not an unusual sight.
But I had been reading the February issue of British Birds, which contains population estimates of the bird species found in Britain, and this rates the Wren as the most numerous breeding bird in the country, with 8.6 million territories -- that represents considerably more than double that number of birds, since Wrens are polygamous and may have several mates in separate nests in one territory.
This compares with 6.7 million territories for the Robin.
As you walk around the park you might see 10 or 15 Robins, but only one or two Wrens. And this is true even in spring when the male Wrens are singing (Robins, of course, sing all year round). It is remarkable that such a common bird should be so little seen, even allowing for its small size, unobtrusive brown plumage and shy habits.
The Robins have mostly stopped defending their individual territories, and some have mates. You can tell when two of these fierce little birds are a pair: they will come within ten feet of each other without trying to kill each other. Later you will see the male giving food to the female as a token that he will look after her properly when she is on her nest.
However, there are three Robins in the shrubbery between Buck Hill and the Long Water, near the bandstand where people practise martial arts. And they are all perfectly easy with each other, and come to my hand in turns to be fed. Can they be a ménage à trois?
One of the Mute Swans on the Serpentine, a rather skinny female, is a visitor. She has an orange plastic ring numbered 785 in black, and a metal ring with the number W34225.
On the other side of the lake a Pied Wagtail looks out over a bubble bigger than its head.
It is always a delight to see these birds racing up and down the shore at an incredible speed on their neat black legs, and launching themselves into the air uttering their cheerful flight song.