Friday, 1 February 2013

For the past two days there has been a flock of Goldfinches flying around the Peter Pan statue -- I saw about 40 today. Common enough birds in London, but much less so in the park for some reason. The best place to see Goldfinches in Central London is in Molyneux Street, a small street southeast of the crossing of the Edgware Road. The houses have very tall television aerials, which are a magnet for these birds which like perching high up.

Two pairs of Great Crested Grebes are in competition at the Serpentine island, where there is only one fairly good place to nest, behind the baskets of water plants at the east end of the island. There was a lively dispute today, with a good deal of calling, displaying, diving and chasing. Here is one pair, temporarily victorious, chasing the other off at high cruising speed, as you can see from the wake they are raising. Any greater speed would involve a flying run, but they resort to that only if a dispute reaches fever pitch. Normally display and menacing calls are enough to settle things. In the words of Sun Tzu, 'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.'


The Bearded Tits were giving watchers a hard time by disappearing into the reeds for as much as 15 minutes at a time. In fact they were behaving like Bearded Tits, rather than like celebrities posing for photographs. In the intervals of visibility, people ranged up and down the path beside the reed bed gazing hopefully into the stems. But sooner of later there would be a cheerful shout and another knot of admirers pressed up against the fence.

A Bearded Tit's wings look absurdly small for the size of the bird, but its body looks large because it is fluffed up against the cold, and the fluff partly conceals the wings.

I don't normally bother to photograph city pigeons, or Feral Rock Doves as they are properly called. But here is a pair bathing in a muddy puddle make quite a nice shot.

And here is an Egyptian Goose having a bath with much greater vigour. The frantic splashing helps to rinse out parasites from their feathers.

No sight of the Tawny Owls today, despite two visits to their tree. I had hoped that the sunshine would bring out the male, but he has his own agenda.

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