Thursday 13 December 2012

The Long Water is now almost all frozen, and largely deserted except for gulls strolling about on the ice, like this Common Gull regarding me with an expression as frosty as the surface.

Birds can stand on ice apparently without discomfort. They have a network of blood capillaries in their legs which acts as a heat exchanger, and lets their feet operate at a lower temperature than the rest of the bird without chilling it.

A Little Grebe, frozen out of its usual haunts on the Long Water, was hurrying down the Serpentine to fish under the ice near the outflow. I have often seen them deliberately staying at the edge of the ice to catch small fish that lurk under it mistakenly believing themselves to be in a safe place.

There were about 100 Canada Geese and 200 Greylags feeding together on the east side of the police station. The Greylags are in the background of this picture.

This is not their usual winter feeding place, but the Parade Ground has been destroyed by the disastrous London Live arena during the Olympics, and there has been no effort yet to repair it -- I hope it's only 'yet', as this ugly neglected mess in a London landmark shames the city.

I found the female Tawny Owl in her hole in the nest tree, and took some pictures. It was not until I got home and looked at them that I realised that her mate had emerged from the same hole and was beside her on the left. They are so well camouflaged against the horse chestnut trunk that I didn't even spot him when looking at her through binoculars.

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