Wednesday 5 December 2012

A chilly day, and the small birds poured out of the bushes to be fed. The most numerous and boldest are Great Tits.

Anyone who has suitable food, such as wild bird seed, can easily feed them at the leaf yard. I give the Great and Blue Tits small pieces of Double Gloucester cheese. It is dyed yellow with annato, a plant full of natural beta carotene. When the tits eat this, they metabolise it into another carotenoid pigment, astaxanthin, which makes their feathers yellow -- and a yellow tit is an attractive one, so I am helping their breeding success. All the small birds are very fond of pine nuts, a rather expensive treat; Coal Tits will take nothing else, as their preferred habitat is pine trees and they prise the nuts out of the cones.

Both the Tawny Owls were side by side in their tree, and awake. The female owl had just climbed up inside the tree and come out on the top, standing beside and above her mate, whom she woke up with her arrival.

After she had shifted around restlessly for a few minutes to find a comfortable position, they both settled down to sleep again.

There was a Mute Swan behind the fence near the statue of Peter Pan. Evidently it had been chased up there off the Long Water. It had a clear path to walk back, unlike some times when they are herded into a corner and get stuck, and have to be rescued.

When I got to the other side of the lake, I could see what had happened. The male swan whose territory is now the whole Long Water was feeling particularly amorous -- which for a swan means violent -- and pursuing his mate up and down the side of the lake. She was not enjoying this much, and at one point tried to climb out of the water, below the place where the male had already chased the interloper. This obstructed picture was taken from the far side of the lake through the largest gap I could find in the bushes.

But he caught her with his beak and dragged her back down and had his way with her, indiscreetly just offshore from Peter Pan.

1 comment:

  1. A well earned (by all your patience and frequent visits) and lovely picture of the owl couple. And I liked, well, appreciated the story about the swan couple.