Monday 28 January 2013

It was time to do the monthly bird count around the lake. I found 64 Egyptian Geese on the Serpentine and Long Water, not including those on the Round Pond. One thing is certain: there will be even more next year.

Eleven Mute Swans had arrived on the Long Water, inevitably resulting in a good deal of threatening and chasing. One of the young swans in the Italian Gardens ponds had unwisely chosen this time to try to return to the main lake, and was driven entirely out of the water and sat on the bank looking miserable.

I wonder whether the two young swans went to the Italian Garden because they had been chased off the Long Water. Otherwise it is hard to see why they have stayed in this confined space for so long. At least they seem to have resolved their quarrel with each other; when I saw them yesterday they were peacefully side by side.

The Bearded Tits were in the reed bed as usual, swaying about wildly as the gusty wind lashed the stems.

Behind them, in the Diana fountain enclosure, two Herring Gulls were shuffling their feet briskly.

Presumably this simulates the noise of rain falling on the grass and encourages worms to surface so that the bird can eat them. But it seems unlikely that the bird understands this, and probably it just knows that if it shuffles some worms will appear. Herring gulls certainly learn feeding strategies from other herring gulls -- as witness the outbreak of gulls stealing ice cream from cones held in people's hands, which seems to have started in Dutch towns on the North Sea Coast and has now spread to Cornwall. Pictures here and here.

A Common Gull stares at me.  They don't seem to pester humans, unlike the other three species on the lake, but they are merciless to the smaller Black-Headed Gulls, and if one of these is carrying a piece of food it is likely to find half a dozen Common Gulls chasing it.

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