Saturday, 23 August 2014

The two young Hobbies were out on the same tree as yesterday, waiting for one of their parents to bring them food.

One of them stretched its wings.

They seem to be looked after by one parent, presumably their mother, though you do occasionally see the whole family of four in the air.

The two Great Crested Grebe chicks across the lake from Peter Pan were loud and lively. Here one of them tries to climb on to its mother's back. This can only be done from straight astern; if the chick tries from the side, as here, all it does is make its parent revolve rapidly.

Later, when one chick was on its father and the other in the water, their mother turned up with a fish too large for either of them to swallow. She offered it to each of them in turn, and when they couldn't manage it she ate the fish herself.

In this picture it looks as if the grebe on the left is carrying chicks. But in fact it has raised its wings to imitate the carrying of chicks, and the other bird is fascinated by the sight and raises its crest.

This is an informal variant of a seldom seen grebe ritual, the 'cat dance' -- in the full dance, the onlooking grebe will stand up in the water and may even pirouette. It's impossible to see here which of the birds is male and which female. The books say that the bird pretending to have chicks is usually the female, but actually I think that grebes don't know what sex they are until one of them surprises itself by laying eggs. It is still not too late for them to make a nest: grebes have bred successfully on this lake as late as the beginning of September.

The female Mallard on the Serpentine near the bridge, against all probability, still has seven ducklings. She is not looking after them any more attentively than Mallards usually do, but the big gulls seem to be giving them a break.

The floating reed beds at the east end of the Serpentine have proved to be a real haven for water birds. Here is a new family of Moorhens with two chicks, which are still small enough to walk through the wire mesh.

For some time my flat has been loud with the sound of a young Feral Pigeon calling for food from a nest in a hole in the wall where there used to be a central heating boiler flue. Late yesterday evening the young bird emerged and sat on a pipe under my kitchen window sill.

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