Monday, 25 February 2013

It was time to do the monthly bird count. The most notable sight was 57 Egyptian Geese crowded into the enclosure of the Diana fountain, out of a total of 71 around both lakes (not counting the Round Pond). There was a good deal of chasing and yelling, but nothing that made a good photograph. You have seen mobs of Egyptian Geese before, and these will get bigger and louder as these prolific birds continue their unstoppable rise. The park people artificially restrict the numbers of Canadas and Greylags by finding their nests and pricking their eggs, but they can't do that to a species that nests up trees.

On the Long Water, nine Mute Swans were also chasing each other. Here the dominant male hauls himself into the air as he charges at a rival.

He and his new mate have still not chosen a nest site, but they have the Long Water under control and can take any place they fancy. On the Serpentine things are much less definite, with 40 swans present today, of which only two were displaying to each other when I was there. Once a few dominant pairs have organised themselves, most of the others will be driven back to the Round Pond, the home of low-class swans.

The Grey Herons were also struggling for dominance -- not on the island where their nests are, but all around the Long Water. One of last year's young birds, which you would have expected to have a subordinate position, won a dispute with some elders and even pecked them, and can be seen here strutting around the Vista while the others lurk in the distance.

A tremendous whirring and clattering from a bush in the Flower Walk revealed a Wren, making a noise that you might have expected from a bird three times its size. The effort of creating this racket is so great that the bird's whole body vibrates.

And here is a male Chaffinch, looking very fine in his fresh breeding plumage, waiting for me to stop taking pictures so that he can come and take some seeds from my hand.

Often they remain for some time, picking up a good beakful of pine nuts and sunflower seeds, while other birds flutter impatiently around waiting for them to finish.

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