Friday 8 March 2013

A dark wet day. A routine visit to the Tawny Owls' Tree showed that the lowest hole in the hollow trunk is now the nest of a pair of Ring-Necked Parakeets. It is only about 8 ft off the ground, but very hard to photograph as the birds streak in and out without warning. However, it may be possible to get a pcture of a juvenile parakeet, something I have not yet seen.

There was a brisk Coot fight on the Long Water.

While the spectacle is entertaining, these aggressive birds do actually sometimes injure each other, unlike Great Crested Grebes whose splashy wrestling bouts never hurt anything except the pride of the loser, and even that is quickly forgotten when he can swim off and be consoled by a head-shaking display with his mate.

Some newly arrived Great Crested Grebes were having a standoff in the middle of the Serpentine. I think that two pairs had flown in and were being challenged by the pair from the west end of the island. Here, in a very distant shot, you can see that one of the newcomers is very dark, with only a trace of the usual white face. The effect is probably exaggerated by the miserable light.

I think that this is a sign of age. Some years ago there were a couple of grebes whom I observed for five years -- they always nested under the willow tree near the bridge, and raised several broods. The male of the pair was dark when first seen and became darker every year, though he never became as sombre as the bird pictured here. Again, I must try to get a better photograph.

A pair of Mandarins have reappeared on the Long Water. Here they are sheltering under a willow tree on the east side.

The Mandarins may be permanent residents, and take cover in the shrubberies where we can't see them. Or they may be flying in and out between the Long Water and the Regent's Canal, where several pairs breed successfully. The canal is not so troubled by big gulls as the Long Water, and there is plenty of cover along the banks. They seem to be able to get their ducklings up the sheer sides of the canal somehow.

The Robin in the hazel thicket opposite the southeast corner of the leaf yard has a mate.

He chases away the other small birds when you try to feed them (at least, I suppose it is 'he', you really can't tell with robins). His mate, at the bottom right of the picture, is much less aggressive, and once she was knocked off my hand by an impatient Blue Tit.

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