Sunday 29 July 2012

The Great Crested Grebes nesting on the poplar now have at least one chick. No wonder the nesting bird hung on so bravely when threatened by the weed cutting machine. It is impossible to take a good picture of this nest because it is so far from anywhere you can stand on the shore, but here you can see that the male is sitting with his wings slightly raised to shelter a chick on his back, while the female fusses around in the water nearby.

The Moorhens under the bench beside the Vista have belatedly brought out a third chick, much smaller than the others. Despite its late start, it was running around the tarmac with great vigour while I fed it biscuit crumbs. At one point a hungry Mallard knocked it over, but it picked itself up and ran on.

Everything is very late this year. I went to see the House Martins at the Kuwaiti embassy and found more nests: 12 in all, of which at least 8 were certainly being attended. Can they get their young flying by the end of September, when it is time to go back to Africa?

The Coal Tits in the leaf yard have come back to be fed after being absent for a while. I haven't seen any young ones, though all the other kinds of tit have bred successfully. They follow me about, coming down from time to time to take a pine nut from my hand. They take some time selecting the nut they prefer, and are quite likely to be knocked off by a larger bird before they have made their choice, but always come back when the coast is clear.

Here the Coot in the Italian Garden begins the strenuous climb up the wire netting, bring a waterlily stem to his mate. It was in vain: she didn't like it and threw it out of the nest, and he had to go off immediately and get a more attractive leaf from a clump of rushes. Still no sign of their eggs hatching.

Sheltering from a shower under the Tawny Owls' nest tree, I found a fresh owl pellet containing rat bones. Good to know that the owls are still here even if they are invisible. I have been told that owls have favourite places to stand while regurgitating their pellets; this one was within inches of the last one found on 22 June when I was there with Nigel Reeve taking the GPS coordinates of the tree.

Behind the ugly sprawl of the vast Olympic compound there is a pretty patch of native wildflowers in the grass. The blue cornflowers are particularly beautiful.

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