Wednesday, 9 March 2016

It was a day with quite a lot happening, but mostly at a distance or in poor light, so today's photographs are none too fabulous.

The Little Grebes were calling from the bushes on the edge of the Long Water, and came out together. They are in their dark chestnut breeding plumage.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were dancing on the Serpentine. If you know their behaviour you get plenty of time before the dance begins, so here is the moment when they touch as they rear up in the water.

The Black Swan, still with girlfriend number one, was having a faceoff with his old enemy, the big male Mute Swan who regards the area behind the reed rafts as his own.

The Black Swan won this encounter. But maybe that was because it happened outside the line of rafts, not on the Mute Swan's territory.

A Dunnock was singing in a tree near Peter Pan. It is a beautiful song.

And two more Goldcrests were singing at each other near the bridge, a few feet from the place where their nest was last year. Perhaps both were hatched here. It has been a very good year for these tiny birds, and more have survived the winter than usual.

There were eleven Siskins in a tree near the Queen's Temple.

There was also a single singing Greenfinch, but it was too high up for a picture.

The Redwings on the Parade Ground were flying in and out of the small trees to the west of the bandstand.

A Treecreeper appeared again in the shrubbery on the east side of the Long Water.

This place is halfway between the Henry Moore sculpture and the shelter that I flippantly call the martial arts bandstand (which today was occupied by some people doing what seemed to be mindfulness exercises).

A Song Thrush was rooting around in the undergrowth on the other side of Henry Moore.

Despite falling rain, the Little Owl in the oak tree was keeping watch from his hole.

When I passed earlier the pair of Stock Doves were looking into the hole in an interested way, and he must have felt the need to put up a stiff resistance. Stock Doves are attractive birds, but we all hope the owls will win.


  1. Yay for the tiny Goldcrests! So happy to read that they've made it through the winter.

    The Black Swan ought to have his own TV series. There you have star quality if there ever was one.

    1. Yes, the swans really are a bit Kardashianesque.

    2. I watched the Little Owl in the oak tree for quite a while today. I heard him call a few times, which made standing in the rain worthwhile!

    3. He's having a tough time with the stock doves.

  2. A pair of Great Crested Grebes were dancing on the Serpentine. If you know their behaviour you get plenty of time before the dance begins, so here is the moment when they touch as they rear up in the water.

    I thought this was a respectable blog.

  3. I used to play triangle in the Band.

  4. Replies
    1. Good to hear from you. It's a Pentax K-3 with a Pentax 150-450mm zoom lens. Not the longest lens -- some people use 600mm lenses for birds -- but very sharp even at the end of the zoom. I also have a tiny Canon Powershot SX410 IS for close-up and wide-angle shots and where depth of focus is required. The video published on Monday was shot on this.

    2. Those big lenses can be more trouble than they are worth. Apart from the sheer weight, there is the setting up in which time one can so easily miss the shot. Your combination looks good and versatile.

    3. Not too bad. No setting up: I use autofocus and the only manual setting is shutter speed, one twiddle with a finger, letting the aperture and ISO setting sort themselves out. It's as quick as using a point-and-shoot camera, and the results are incomparably better.

      Weight is on the limit of bearability. Pentax gear is made as light as possible. Camera and lens weigh six and a half pounds; the Canon equivalent would be ten or twelve pounds (and four times as expensive, and no better). With binoculars, a bag of miscellaneous stuff and the tiny Canon camera, I have about ten pounds round my neck. I do get a bit stiff after walking around for four or five hours with this load, but it isn't life threatening. Putting equipment in a rucksack would reduce strain but make everything desperately slow, as I would have to keep taking it off and putting it on again. Wildlife photography requires first patience and then speed.

  5. I thought the GCGs were about to perform their full mating dance right in front of me at the Lido pool the other day, but a gull swooped in at the last minute and grabbed their weed! Gulls clearly cannot distinguish a symbolic gift from a tasty treat.

    1. Have never seen that. But gulls will grab anything.