Saturday 8 December 2012

A pair of Ring-Necked Parakeets were exploring nest holes together in a plane tree behind the Albert Memorial.

It is not at all the right time of year for such things, but maybe the sunshine set them off. As with the Egyptian Geese, these are not native birds; their natural habits have been disrupted by finding themselves far to the north of their usual habitat and they don't understand the cycle of the seasons. However, both species seem to be doing something right, as their numbers are increasing rapidly.

All the park's geese -- Greylag, Canada and Egyptian -- have come to appreciate the rich newly laid turf that has been laid where the Olympic grandstand was. However, there is a drawback to this grazing ground: it is rather far from the edge of the lake, and much frequented by humans. When people come past with dogs off the leash, there is a wild panic rush back into the water. When the dog has passed, they gradually return. Here a little line of geese trundles from the lake back up to the grassy slope.

The Henry Moore arch on the Vista has become a popular station for the local Carrion Crows. If you give one of them a peanut, it may bring it up here, as the grooves cut in the stone make a perfect socket to hold the nut still while the bird opens it with a few deft pecks.

The Jays also have their routine for taking nuts. They are smaller than Carrion Crows and Magpies, and if these get to the food before they do, it is lost. So they watch intently from branches, and as soon as you throw a nut underneath they drop like a stone to just the right spot, frequently reaching the nut before it hits the ground. They seize it and rocket up vertically to the branch. This is hard to photograph, and the best I could do was to catch the bird in the split second when it had the nut and was about to shoot into the air. Perhaps one of these times I will be lucky enough to capture the Jay arriving or leaving, but the human finger is simply not up to the speed of the event.

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