Sunday 6 January 2013

It was the turn of the male Tawny Owl to come into view on the beech tree for a full-length picture. He wouldn't open his eyes, unlike his much more alert mate, but here he is in all his sleepy glory.

His mate was in her usual place on the horse chestnut tree, staring down with her unfathomable black eyes.

The mysterious hybrid duck appeared again on the Long Water.

She is very much the same shape and size as a Pochard, with the same narrow-topped, round-backed head, and has almost the same colours as a female Tufted Duck, except that her back is a bit greyer than that of a typical Tufted Duck, tending towards the ashy colour of a female Pochard. The white 'saddle' across her face, which caused her to be mistaken for a Scaup, is also sometimes seen in Tufted Ducks -- see my blog post for Thursday 3 January for an example.

One of the Great Black-Backed Gulls was on the Serpentine.

Here it is drinking. Most birds, including gulls, drink by taking a beakful of water and tossing their head back to swallow it. They can't suck water up because their bills are open at the sides. The only birds that can drink by putting their beaks down into water and lapping it up are pigeons and doves. Presumably they manage to go this by some clever work with their tongues.

Here is one of the four surviving young Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond beginning to settle down for the night.

Its raised wings frame its head in a way that gives it a curious air of a state portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, with her sharp little beady-eyed face surrounded by an enormous frilly ruff.


  1. Such a sweety, that EG! And I agree about the portrait of QEI. Actually, before I had read your comment, I had been admiring it for its beautiful plummage. I think you get the Nicholas Hilliard prize for that. And I think I can identify it as the smallest, shy one, am I right? It still has a few very pale feathers on the back of its head.

    1. Yes, it is the smallest one. By settling down first it got the warmest spot in the middle of the huddle.

  2. Hi Ralph....a great blogg....introduced to me by my friend - Ulrike. Your images and really great....good definition and pretty accurate color...I took a picture of a kingfisher today (, but you can see from the image posted up on Facebook that it's quite a blur. Do you have a fancy & expensive camera, or do you have a good steady hand and keen eye?

  3. Thanks for your kind words. I don't have an expensive camera. I use a bridge camera, a Lumix FZ200. It does everything I need, has a very quick autofocus -- essential for birds -- and is light enough to carry anywhere. An SLR with a lens equivalent to its zoom lens would give sharper pictures, but it would weigh 15 lb.