Friday 28 December 2012

A very mild day, and there was a feeling that midwinter was past -- probably an illusion, as we still have to get through January and February. A Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush and a Great Tit were all singing. One of the Little Grebes was emerging from its plain winter colours and beginning to show a sign of red on its head. And this adult Great Crested Grebe, one of the parents of the young bird that was hatched in early September, has definitely grown its breeding plumage.

The young grebe is still hanging around with its parents, being an only child and not having a gang of siblings to go around with. It is not pestering them for food, and I have seen the two diving together to do a side-by-side sweep, evidently hoping to chase fish into the space between them where they are close enough for a quick grab.

A young Black-Headed Gull has reached that awkward age where it is growing the dark brown head feathers of its breeding plumage, but has not yet moulted the tweedy juvenile feathers on its wings.

Unlike their larger relatives, Black-Headed Gulls grow to an almost fully adult appearance in the first year of their life, though their legs and feet remain dull orange rather than red for some time.

There was a small flock of Red-Crested Pochards at the Serpentine island, with the males in their splendid breeding plumage.

There are Egyptian Geese wandering around in pairs or small groups everywhere. Two were standing on the Henry Moore arch clamouring loudly. Their habit of perching in high places and making a terrible noise can't be purely because they are seeking a nest site, since this is an utterly unsuitable place.

A large crowd of Coots, sometimes over 100 of them, hangs around the north bank of the Serpentine a few yards from the bridge.

People arrive in their cars at the nearby car park, walk the few steps down to the edge of the water, and feed them. Often the food is just dumped on the edge -- large mounds of pitta bread or rice which looks as if it was the leavings of restaurants. The Coots have become so accustomed to this largesse that sometimes it is hard to get past them, and I practically had to kick them out of the way today.

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