Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A male Tawny Owl hooted briefly in the leaf yard, but as usual was invisible in the dense foliage. It is good to know that they are still around. There are also Little Owls in the same place. Outside the brief window in early spring when the owls are breeding and the leaves have not yet grown, it is impossible to see much of the doings of these birds. There is probably at least one more pair of Tawnies in the 'Bird Sanctuary' in Hyde Park -- that is, the shrubbery around the greenhouses -- but that is a particularly difficult place to examine, even in winter.

Three Gadwalls have turned up on the Long Water: two males and a female. One male is just emerging from eclipse and beginning to grow his elegantly vermiculated breeding plumage. The female is as neat as a new pin with sharp wing feathers and a beautifully patterned back.

Usually when these ducks arrive in the park, we assume that they have flown up from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, where there is a permanent resident population on the lake. But the other male Gadwall has dropped all his flight feathers, and has clearly been unable to fly for some time.

So it is surprising that they haven't been noticed before. However, they can lurk among flocks of Mallards unnoticed at a distance, especially when all are in eclipse.

On the Round Pond, a Mallard had two ducklings. One was much larger than the other, and was unmercifully bullying the smaller one, which had to keep running around the far side of its mother to avoid being beaten up.

One of the young Egyptian Geese was spreading a remarkably large pair of wings, which seemed excessive for carrying this not very big bird. But I suppose it will grow into them.

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