Thursday, 25 April 2013
The female Tawny Owl had returned to her usual place in the holm oak tree on the north side of the Flower Walk, and gave me a deep dark stare.
I couldn't find the owlets, but they must have been close by in another evergreen tree. As far as I know, no one has seen the male owl for some time.
The Mute Swans nesting under the balustrade of the Italian Garden have five eggs, not easy to see through the remaining reed stems; I could only count them because they were turning them. And the pair at the Lido have four, and have now settled down comfortably to incubate them.
It remains to be seen whether these very public and exposed nests will succeed. Meanwhile, the nest site in the prize position, in the bushes on the Serpentine island, remains vacant, though I have seen swans wandering around nearby.
It was the day for the monthly bird count, and I saw that the number of Mute Swans on both lakes is down to 29, half the recent maximum. Fighting for precedence is still going on, and will continue until only a few breeding pairs are left -- and it may continue even then.
The number of Herring Gulls is also down, from an exceptional 80 to a more normal 26.
There were Goldcrests singing in several places around the Long Water, and at the top of the Dell near the waterfall.
I was afraid that the destruction of the bushes in this area would have driven out this pair of Goldcrests, but they seem to have found somewhere to live. There is another pair of Goldcrests in a yew tree at the southeast corner of the Dell.
The total number of terrapins and turtles is now up to four, as someone told me that he had seen yet another irreponsible owner dumping his pet in the lake. They are surprisingly good hunters and probably eat a fair number of ducklings. On sunny days, they come out of the water and sunbathe on the branches of fallen trees. This Red-Eared Slider is basking on the fallen horse chestnut tree in the Long Water.