Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Tawny owlets came back into view today. They were in the hornbeam tree next to the lime tree where they have been recently. I didn't find either of their parents. Here are two of them.

There is a new brood of Mandarins, just three ducklings. They are quite young; it seems that the previous three broods have all been eaten by gulls, and indeed this one has only three left. On the west side of the Vista they strayed dangerously close to a Grey Heron, which their mother warned off.

She also saved them from a hungry Carrion Crow. But it's the big gulls, numerous and ravenous, that do the most damage.

The water weed is thicker than ever on the Long Water. Here the Coot family from the reeds near the Italian Garden wonder how to cope with it. It makes swimming difficult for the chicks, which have to wriggle their way over the top, half swimming, half walking.

The weed will also interfere with the triathlon due to be held next weekend. Serve the organisers right for holding it on an unsuitable lake, and for intruding on a park that is supposed to be for public recreation, not commercial events. However, the family of Mute Swans with five cygnets have taken advantage of the fence along the lake shore, as it provides a refuge from dogs.

You can see the remains of a crayfish in the background. The Herring and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls are still hauling up large numbers of these.

What has happened to the Crayfish is a mystery. At least some of them seem to be dead; at least, their inactivity can't be fully explained by the fact that they are moulting at the moment. It has been suggested that the lake is suffering from euthrophication, which would explain both the heavy growth of weed and a lack of dissolved oxygen that affects the crayfish, but I have seen the lake in a much worse state that this without causing a mass die-off.

Also, the Great Crested Grebes still seem to be catching plenty of fish in good condition.

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