Thursday, 20 June 2013

The blond young Egyptian Goose has now grown to a fair size, and is beginning to take on the look of one of the two unusual pale adults on the lake, which lack the usual brown eye patch. Here is the young bird ...

... and here is an adult for comparison.

Both the adults are female, so it is reasonable to suppose that the young one is too. This adult had seven young last year, all of whom successfully made it to adulthood, but she seems to be taking a year off breeding after last season's Hero Mother exploit. You can see that she has not yet grown her flight feathers back fully after moulting, but the dark tips of the new primaries are just becoming visible.

The Great Crested Grebes at the east end of the island are down to one chick, and the ones at the west end have lost their only one. However, the single survivor seems in good health and louder than ever.

This low survival rate is probably due to the unfortunate timing of this late year, which caused the fish to spawn late, so that there were no small fish to feed the chicks. The new fry have now hatched but they are still barely an inch long. This chick is now nearly large enough to eat the larger fish from last year, which are now about three inches long. If it can make it to this point it is out of danger of starvation -- though of course a wild bird is never out of danger. And the later broods this year will be in good time to feed on this year's fish when they have grown a bit larger.

Here is a female Ring-Necked Parakeet blending superbly into the leaves of a laurel bush.

They are nearly invisible in summer, but staringly obvious in winter when there are no leaves on the trees. because they are Indian in origin, they have not evolved to deal with deciduous trees. The northern strategy of being dull brown with disruptive spots or stripes has simply not been required.

There are other ways of blending into the leaves. The greenish yellow of the underside of a Great Tit is exactly the colour of the sunlit upper surface of a leaf, and the greenish brown of its back is the colour of the shaded underside of a leaf. The reversal of colours makes it hard to see the shape of the bird, and at the same time its dull upper side makes it hard to see from above.

The Common Terns are still here, and were flying over the Serpentine. They were using a new strategy of skimming low over the lake and seizing something from the surface. I think they were probably taking dragonfly larvae.

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