Thursday, 25 July 2013

Four Mandarin ducklings have appeared on the Long Water, the first brood in three years if I remember rightly. Note the distinctive double eye stripe which will develop into the complex eye pattern of the adult.

It seemed odd that the Mallards had been having a successful year, but none of the other species, but that is now rectified. However, these little birds will need a lot of luck if they are to pull through. So far the dangerous big gulls have not paid much attention to the Long Water.

Mandarins are rather aggressive, and it seems to start early. One of the ducklings chased away an adult Mallard which had come too close to the brood.

Meanwhile, on the pond in the Italian Gardens, the mother Mallard's strategy of keeping her ducklings in the water lily patch seems to be working so far. She still has four, and there have been no losses for more than a week. Here one of them sleeps peacefully with its little wing resting on a leaf.

The ducklings are quite well concealed by the strong texture of the leaves and flowers. In camouflage, pattern is more effective as a disguise than colour.

This Mute Swan cygnet is having a hard time getting down the little step into the lake. It couldn't step down four inches, and had to resort to sliding on its belly.

Previously I had watched the cygnets waddling awkwardly around, and had been struck by the way they were just as ungainly on land as enormous adult swans. Luckily they will probably never have to run, as they are well protected by the ferocity of their parents.

A Cormorant was washing itself near the Serpentine island, a frantic process involving alternate diving and violent flapping.

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