Tuesday, 9 September 2014

One of the Hobbies flew over Kensington Gardens. The orange-red area around the legs that distinguishes an adult is quite hard to see from below, and comes out even less well in photographs. But you can just about see it here.

 The two families of Great Crested Grebes from the opposite ends of the Serpentine island were having another of their territorial disputes, and this chick joined in the menacing display.

It is the solitary chick of the family on the west end of the island, and perhaps its help had an effect because the invisible frontier between the two families' territories has shifted 20 ft to the east. In reality this doesn't matter a bit, since both have abandoned their nests and are fishing out on the open lake, but it keeps the grebes amused as well as educating the chicks in adult behaviour.

The number of Mute Swans on the Round Pond has been slowly increasing since they were driven away by the engineering works.

I counted 23 today. This is probably caused less by swans wanting to return to this rather cramped area than by the efforts of the pair of swans on the Long Water, who have been claiming more and more of the Serpentine and are driving the next family up to the far end, where they in turn frighten off the lower-status swans without cygnets.

Therre are only two left of the youngest generation of Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden. But including their two previous broods of this year they still have five, not a bad total. I gave the adult a piece of digestive biscuit. It was too large for the chicks to eat as it was, so it was taken to a waterlily leaf and broken up before being distributed.

On a post near Peter Pan, a young Cormorant was scratching its ear with its foot. The young birds have off-white fronts.

The very dark brown Mallard ducking has now lost most of its original downy feathers. Its new adult plumage is disappointing normal, and it is hardly darker than its mother, who is at the dark end of the normal range of colour for a female Mallard.

As the leaves begin to fall off the trees the green Ring-Necked Parakeets, previously so well hidden, are becoming conspicuous. They are Indian birds and not at home in deciduous trees.

The ornithologist Jeffrey Martin has been studying the predation of parakeets by Tawny Owls and Hobbies (and in Richmond Park also by Peregrines). He wonders whether the Tawnies, having learnt to pick parakeets off exposed branches, will continue to do so this winter, or whether, with no need to feed their hungry young for a while, they will revert to their traditional diet of mice caught at night.

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