Thursday 21 June 2012

At last, a sight of Great Crested Grebe chicks. The pair at the east end of the Serpentine island have at least two, which can dimly be seen in this bad photograph taken at long range on a dull day. Their father is sitting on the nest with the babies on his back, and they are poking their little heads out on either side of his neck.

Grebe chicks can swim and dive from the moment they hatch, as they need to because they often fall out of the nest or off their parents' back when being carried. However, they can't really walk. Even an adult grebe is very uncertain on its feet, which are set so far back on its body that it has to stand in an odd hunched position. The babies are quadrupeds: they crawl about using their wings as front legs, as can be seen in this picture taken last year.

Here, by contrast, is one of the Coot chicks from the nest in the netting near the Lido. Its enormous feet are already doing good service as it hops nimbly over the slime.

The three chicks from this nest are all alive, despite the hungry glances of this Herring Gull a short way along the shore. This is a second-summer bird, losing its tweedy juvenile plumage and beginning to show adult pale grey on its back. It takes Herring Gulls four years to get fully adult plumage.

Reed Warblers were singing from the reeds at the bottom end of the Serpentine and west of the Lido. I am not sure whether the second of these was the one who has been singing just the other side of the bridge. It is possible that there are three pairs.

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