Thursday 17 January 2013

After another cold night the Long Water was almost completely frozen. This forces the Little Grebes up to the top end of the lake, and eventually under a willow tree next to the parapet of the Italian Gardens, where they can be a little hard to see through the branches.

This is where a borehole discharges water into the lake, and the relative warmth of the groundwater ensures that this spot never freezes. In a particularly cold spell a few years ago the unfrozen area was reduced to the size of a ping-pong table, and there were five Little Grebes in it all diving and surfacing like toy submarines.

The Serpentine remains mostly clear, though it seems likely that it will freeze almost completely in the next few days. There is always a clear spot next to the Serpentine island, which becomes very crowded with water birds. It is a good place to look for unusual birds that have been frozen out of their usual places. The female Goosander of 2010 spent several days here, and only left when there was a thaw.

The Shovellers had been displaced from the Long Water, and were putting on a good show in the middle of the Serpentine.

The solitary Barnacle Goose had left its usual place, which is now iced up, and was grazing with a group of Greylags near the Lookout. Most of the Great Crested Grebes have flown off to the Thames, and I only saw two. They are very wary of icy conditions, as they need quite a large area of open water.

The Bearded Tits were still in the reed bed, attended by a large congregation of the faithful. You never get tired of these charming birds, and I can't resist photographing them every day.

And the male Tawny Owl has reappeared after an absence of several days. He was dozing in the beech tree next to the nest tree in which his mate is now, we hope, sitting on her eggs.

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