Sunday 30 December 2012

Time to do the monthly count of the birds around the lake. There were over 60 Egyptian Geese here alone, not counting those on the Round Pond, though it is hard to be sure of the exact number as some of them were flying about. A few days ago Des McKenzie, counting over the whole park, found 80 of them.

I saw one of the adult Great Black-Backed Gulls and the young one; also 24 Herring Gulls, outnumbering 17 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls which are normally more numerous. Most of the Herring Gulls were in a close flock, suggesting that they had flown in together for the day. There were 40 Common Gulls, a good number for these winter visitors but again far from the total, as there would have been flocks of them elsewhere picking up insects from the flooded grass.

Both the Tawny Owls were in their accustomed places on the nest tree. I am always aware when photographing the female that it may be the last sight of her for two months, as she will be on her nest soon.

Female Tawny Owls spend a sixth of their life in purdah, either sitting on their eggs or looking after the owlets until they can fly. All this time, they and their young are fed by the industrious male, who brings them house and wood mice, young rats and, in this park, the odd Ring-Necked Parakeet. Parakeets are swift fliers, and it is not clear how the owls catch them: probably by waiting until one is about to pass under their branch, judging its time of arrival nicely and then falling on it.

The solitary Barnacle Goose was still in the same place, halfway along the south shore of the Serpentine. It now comes over to be fed when I arrive.

A few days ago I mentioned the habit of some people in throwing down large amounts of strange foodstuffs for the birds to eat. Today I found a large deposit of some whitish stuff which had been sprinkled into the lake. On examination it turned out to be raw couscous. Two Egyptian Geese were eating it quite happily when a Mute Swan came over, shoved them away, and started feeding itself.

Here one of this year's young Grey Herons strikes an elegant pose in the fallen horse chestnut tree on the Long Water. This tree has proved a splendid haven for wildlife -- not just for birds, as the terrapins also use it as a place to sunbathe. The tree is now beginning to disintegrate, but no doubt in time another tree will fall into the lake to replace it.

No comments:

Post a Comment