Monday 31 December 2012

A dark wet day, and no sign of the Tawny Owls, who were probably sheltering in their hollow tree. They may already have started nesting; if the female doesn't reappear within a couple of days we shall know that the long haul has begun.

At the Serpentine island, two pairs of Great Crested Grebes, all of them now in their new breeding plumage, were enjoying a territorial dispute.

There is a favoured nest site behind the basket in the background, and the birds want to put their bid in early. Usually on this lake early breeding grebes don't do very well, and the best time for starting a nest is midsummer. This is probably because there are more smallish fish later in the year. In other places the opposite may be true: for example at Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham nesting begins as soon as possible when the water level is high after the winter rains. As the water falls during the spring and summer, the grebes' preferred nesting sites are left high and dry.

A few yards away from the dispute the youngest grebe, hatched very late in September, was fishing in peaceful solitude. It still has its stripy juvenile face, a sign that it plays no part in territorial claims.

A pair of Moorhens were tightrope walking on the chains across the lake near the bridge. They constantly perform balancing acts, apparently just for the fun of it.

A most unexpected sight just to the north of the park. I was coming home along Queensway in the rainy dusk, and outside Whiteley's there was a Pied Wagtail running about on the pavement. Here it is, against a background of garish reflections from shop lighting.

The bird was absolutely unconcerned by the passing crowds. If anyone came too close it just trotted out of the way. In fact it had nothing to fear, since wagtails can run like the wind and make an explosively quick vertical takeoff, which you sometimes see them doing when an insect flies overhead. But normally they are shy birds, and it is hard to get within 20 feet of them. This wagtail was so bold that it ran around my feet while I fed it with small pieces of cheese.


  1. Hi Ralph,

    male Goosander on Long Water this a.m. plus Kingfisher.

    Des McKenzie.

  2. Thanks. Pictures on today's blog. Missed the Kingfisher, but sightings of these are random gifts and not to be expected.

  3. Welcome. Also discovered a female Scaup on Long Water this aftrrnoon.