Friday 14 December 2012

A mild rainy day, and most of the ice on the lake has melted. The ground has thawed, bringing out flocks of Starlings to hunt for wireworms and other small creatures in the grass.

I had been worried about the youngest Great Crested Grebe, hatched very late in early September and still probably not old enough to fly out if the lake froze more severely. When the other grebes left for the safety of the river, its devoted parents stayed to look after it. But is OK, and was visible on the Serpentine today, busily fishing under the boat hire jetty and along the edge of the lake.

I didn't see it catch anything, though I think that most of the time it was poking around for invertebrates under the concrete edge of the lake, rather than going for fish. At the age of three months they make a lot of effort for not much caught, but it is the only way to learn the vital skill of fishing.

A second-year Lesser Black-Backed Gull had had better luck, and was eating a fair-sized fish at the edge of the lake.

Although they are mainly scavengers, they can catch fish that swim close to the surface, and you can often see them diving into the water in an effort to grab one -- mostly unsuccessfully. It will be interesting to see whether the habit of catching pigeons spreads among the Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the Serpentine. There are two of them at it now, and gulls copy each others' feeding strategies. There is certainly no shortage of pigeons (or Feral Rock Doves, as urban pigeons are correctly described).

The female Tawny Owl was in the same place as yesterday, sitting out in the falling rain when she could easily have gone back inside her hollow tree.

Her mate was nowhere to be seen, and probably had gone indoors. His usual station on top of the tree is much more exposed, and no place to stay in wet weather.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for another week of delightful bird studies and commentary. I think Wednesday's owl was a real Enchantress. I am off to a Benedictine Abbey in Kent tomorrow for a Quiet Day. I have nevertheless packed my walking boots and binoculars, in the hope of being interrupted by the sight and sound of some of our feathered friends.