Monday 7 January 2013

Several pairs of Great Crested Grebes are in the mood for nesting. One pair on the east side of the Long Water have already made and abandoned a nest. Another pair nearer the bridge are hanging around together under a tree where successful nests have been built before; the same with a pair on the Serpentine at the east end of the island. But the most serious bid is in the reeds near the outflow of the Serpentine, made by the pair whose chick hatched in September. This time they have had the good sense to build it inside the netting, which only reaches down to the waterline and is easy to dive under, while giving protection from Grey Herons and gulls. It is typical of a grebe's nest built of reed stems, larger and higher than the kind made from twigs and weed on a floating branch.

The young one from last year's nest got too near and was chased away.

Normally this pair are still very indulgent to their four-month-old offspring, but this is a grown-up enterprise and none of its business. In fact, when a pair of grebes has two broods of different ages, these are perfectly easy together and I have seen a half-grown young grebe playing amicably with its younger siblings.

Great Crested Grebes are not tied to any particular nesting season. They nest when they are well fed, so this is a sign that there are still plenty of suitable-sized fish in the lake.

The female Tawny Owl has still not retired to her nest, and was in her usual place on the side of the tree.

Several Treecreepers were visible in Kensington Gardens. I think their numbers are increasing, but it may be just that I am noticing these small shy birds better than I used to.

Two male Mandarins and a female have been near the Peter Pan statue for a few days. Here the female, who has been chased by a gull, has a little flap to settle her wing feathers in their proper order.

A Carrion Crow on the parapet of the Italian Garden shows how to deal with a peanut, holding it with its toes, pecking a hole in the end of the shell, and tweaking out the nut with its probing, dextrous beak.

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