Wednesday 2 January 2013

An intrepid pair of Great Crested Grebes have already built a nest on the east side of the Long Water, opposite the Peter Pan statue.

They are probably not serious about nesting yet. They often build and abandon several nests before they start in earnest. Grebes, whose nutritious diet of fish is easily caught, have plenty of leisure to spend resting, playing with nests, squabbling with their rivals, and exchanging the elaborate courtesies that keep a pair together. The only time they are seriously busy is when they are feeding their insatiable young.

Two Song Thrushes were singing loudly at each other across the Long Water. This one was high in a tree in the leaf yard, where at least one pair nests every year.

A Mistle Thrush was also singing behind the Albert Memorial, and a Blackbird was trying out a few phrases in a bush near the Italian Garden. Blackbirds start singing later than the other kinds of thrush.

The male Tawny Owl was in his usual place but his mate was out of sight when I visited the nest tree.

There are plenty of Shovellers on the Long Water now, as well as a few on the Serpentine. They were not very active as I passed, most of them lurking under bushes, and this small group resting in the open. But there are quite enough of them now to form one of their big circles, in which each bird shovels up the small organisms stirred up by the bird in front.

The fallen horse chestnut tree in the Long Water provides a habitat or a perch for all kinds of creatures.

I have seen it used by Grey Herons; Great and Lesser Black-Backed, Yellow-Legged, Common and Black-Headed Gulls; Canada, Greylag and Egyptian Geese; Herring, Mallard, Gadwall, Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Shoveller, Mandarin and Tufted Ducks (and yesterday's Goosander visited it briefly); Great Crested and Little Grebes; Coots and Moorhens; a Pied Flycatcher; the occasional Kingfisher; the usual Starlings and Blackbirds; and Terrapin and Snapping Turtle, which climb up on to the lower branches on warm days to bask in the sunlight.

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