Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Tuesday 29 May 2012

New arrivals

Two days ago, the swan nesting on Millwall Dock was diligently turning three eggs to stop them overheating. Today, there is one contented-looking ball of fluff peeping out from underneath her wing, some frantic cheeping from somewhere underneath, and a head that looked sadly inert until some maternal nibbling prompted it into rather groggy movement.

As I recall, the first year I was here, cygnets hatched on May 14th, so perhaps the cold spell earlier this month delayed this brood. The coots have been breeding all over the dock for some time; the one who won the confrontation just by the swans' nest is still there, seeing off any attempt by the new cygnets' father to use the back way to get to their nest.

The grebes who were scared off have moved upmarket, to a purpose-built set of floating mats looking like artificial marshes, handily placed by one of the main entrances to Canary Wharf. Here there are two pairs of grebes as well as several coots and moorhen, each with their own area. None of them seem bothered by the others, or by the passing traffic and people who stop to watch them.

There's been at least one grebe chick (grebeling?) for several weeks now; it's already much bigger than its parents, and quite happy to come close to people on the dock walls.

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