Wednesday, 12 February 2014

It was a vile morning of wind and driving rain, and you might have expected the male Tawny Owl to have sheltered in his tree. But no, there was was, looking as imperturbable as ever.

There was a report on the BBC web site about another highly visible Tawny Owl in Christchurch Park in Ipswich. She is known as Mabel, and bred in 2012, though only one owlet survived. But her mate doesn't seem to show himself. Evidently her tree is her private day roost, and he is somewhere out of sight elsewhere in the park. The BBC describes her behaviour as 'unique', which is a bit silly considering that we have had two owls in plain sight and breeding yearly for the past 11 years, just two miles from Broadcasting House.

The small birds were hungry in the raw conditions, and came pelting out of the bushes when I approached with some food for them. The wind made it quite hard for them to land on my hand, and a cautious approach upwind was necessary instead of the usual rush in from any direction. Here is one of the Coal Tits in the leaf yard, now completely confident about being fed by humans,. It is also less dominated by the larger birds than it was when it started, and zips in between them instead of waiting for them all to finish before it will venture out.

A pair of Coots are building a nest in a derelict-looking two-seater skiff in one of the small boathouses.

They are not very enthusiastic about it. Maybe it's too early in the season for them, but another pair on the Long Water, in the willow tree just beyond the bridge, are going ahead full speed with their nest.

Two Shovellers were asleep on the Serpentine island, standing on one leg.

Since birds usually sleep with one side of their brain at a time, the other leg was asleep and would have been of no use to stand on anyway.

One of the Little Grebes was fishing under the willow tree next to the Italian Garden.

It caught quite a large fish, but was behind a screen of twigs at the time so I couldn't get a picture. A few minutes later it started rushing around under the tree. Although I couldn't clearly see what was happening, I think it must have been chasing the other Little Grebe, or vice versa. It is often hard to distinguish mating behaviour from a territorial dispute.

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