Saturday, 8 February 2014

A day of wind, sunshine and heavy showers. At least when you have been soaked you get a reward.

A Wren was hopping around among the puddles on the Flower Walk.

The floods at the Round Pond have come at a good moment for the now substantial population of Egyptian Geese.

The pond is surrounded by fences while its edge and the footpath are being repaired, which makes it inconvenient for the geese to stroll in and out of the water as they are used to doing, They now have a private pond.

However, the fence also makes it harder for the geese to retreat into it when some stupid dog owner lets his pet off the lead and it chases them. The pond is surrounded by notices telling people to keep dogs on a leash, but too many dog owners live in a private world of smug self-justification, thinking that their animal's attempts to kill the wildlife are amusing. Whenever I visit the pond there is always at least one dog running loose. I hope the Egyptian Geese don't start breeding here before the fence is removed.

A Shoveller drake was preening himself in the safe refuge of the fallen tree in the Long Water.

This tree is now coming to pieces and will disappear into the lake in a few years. Let's hope another big tree falls into the lake soon to provide another perch for the birds.

The male Tawny Owl was looking as elegant as usual. Saturday had brought him several admirers.

A Jackdaw was looking for worms near the Speke obelisk. The first thing you notice about Jackdaws is their bright silvery eyes, giving them a look of alert intelligence which indeed they possess.

There are two recent posts on the behaviour of Jackdaws in Africa Gómez' consistently fascinating blog The Rattling Crow. In the second of these she describes the way in which their bright eyes deter rivals from entering their nest holes. She also mentions that they are particularly sensitive to the human gaze, because humans have eyes with white surrounds (though in of course humans it is the cornea, not the iris, that gives the white). When I took the photograph above, I approached the Jackdaw while looking in another direction, and it certainly helped me get close without frightening it.

I wonder whether Green Woodpeckers, which also have white eyes and nest in holes, and which are also very wary of humans, share this trait.

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