Tuesday, 26 February 2013

For those of you who had been wondering why a female Tufted Duck has a tuft on her head, here is the answer: it's a convenient handle for keeping her in place.

Sadly, Tufted Ducks have not succeeded in breeding in the park for many years. The big gulls eat their attractive chocolate-coloured ducklings. But at least this pair have not given up. The Tufted Ducks on the nearby canals, where there are more waterside bushes and fewer gulls, have better luck.

This picture was taken under the willow tree on the Long Water next to the bridge, a place where a pair of Great Crested Grebes are thinking of nesting. One of its attractions is the submerged wire baskets just the other side of the bridge, which are full of twigs and provide a perfect habitat for young fish just the right size for feeding grebe chicks. Here one of the pair patrols the side of the basket to seize any fish foolish enough to stick its head out.

This is one of the pair that I photographed dancing on Sunday, in the same spot.

At the east end of the Serpentine the Coots have firmly established their hold on the nest outside the reed bed that was started by Great Crested Grebes. They pile all kinds of junk on to their nests, whether for decoration or utility. The piece of plastic sheet serves well as an access ramp.

There are still large numbers of Egyptian Geese in the enclosure of the Diana fountain. This pair has flown into a tree. The male has just lost his footing walking along a branch, and is flapping wildly to keep his balance.

The feet of Egyptian Geese are of a very ordinary webbed design, ill suited to life in the branches. Mandarin Ducks, which also nest in trees, have proper claws on their webbed toes and can climb quite well.

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