Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Green Woodpecker was foraging for insects in the long grass beside the old bandstand at the bottom of Buck Hill. Despite its rather gaudy plumage it was surprisingly well camouflaged.

I have never seen a band playing in this bandstand in all the decades I have been coming to the park. But it finds plenty of use by people practising kickboxing.

The four Mallard ducklings on the pond in the Italian Garden are all still with us, and growing fast. Here is one of them about to surface after diving to pick algae off the bottom of the pond.

In the adjacent pond the three Moorhen chicks are well and busy. Here one of them inspects a water lily to see if there are any insects in it.

It would not eat the flower. Some species of water lily are poisonous, though not this common white fragrant water lily, Nymphaea odorata.

Walking past the small reed bed next to the bridge, I heard the territorial calls of Great Crested Grebes, so I went up on the bridge to see what the fuss was about.

They were trying to evict a Coot from its nest, and certainly had the intention of nesting there themselves because they kept picking up algae as if to drape it over the Coot's twiggy nest. And they were following their usual routine for shifting a Coot, which I have seen before. One bird goes on each site of the Coot, and they harass it alternately, so the Coot has to keep turning from side to side. If they can keep this up for long enough, the Coot gets so angry that it jumps off the next to attack one of them. However, a Great Crested Grebe, with its agility and sharp beak, is more than a match for a Coot in the water, so the Coot gets beaten up and driven away.

This time, however, the Coot, though plainly annoyed, stayed on its nest. A Coot standing on its strong feet can beat a grebe, since these are hopelessly clumsy on land. So it won this dispute. There are plenty of other places in this reed bed where Great Crested Grebes could nest if they wanted to, but of course they enjoy annoying Coots.

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