Wednesday 13 June 2012

One of the Little Owls, long unseen, appeared for a moment on a branch in the leaf yard, and was gone before I could get a hand to my camera. But it is good to know that they are still here.

Some of the moulting geese on the Serpentine have their first new feathers already. Here is the wing of a Greylag, showing the feathers emerging neatly wrapped in a blue package, which will split and allow them to unfurl. This arrangement is necessary because the barbs on the feather point the wrong way to allow it to emerge from its follicle.

Three Greylags flew overhead, their wing feathers complete, but I could not see whether they had moulted and grown new ones early, or whether they were coming to the lake to shed the old ones.

A Bar-Headed Goose made a welcome visit. This is the offspring of one of the poor captive pinioned geese in Regent's or St James's Park, but has escaped their fate and has come to the Serpentine several times before. These Indian geese spend the summer north of the Himalayas and the winter to the south of them, and fly over the mountains twice a year at 30,000 feet, an altitude where a human would die just by being there.

It is not the only goose that has recently escaped from a London park collection. A few years ago I saw a Red-Breasted Goose swimming along the Grand Union Canal near Wormwood Scrubs, in company with some Canadas.

Here is a young Chaffinch seen pursuing its parents, crying to be fed.


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