Friday 19 April 2013

At least some of the Tawny Owl family were in a tall yew tree a few yards to the west of their usual bay tree. Their presence was revealed by a Jay furiously scolding them. But I couldn't see any of them through the thick foliage.

There were Willow Warblers singing in several places around the Long Water, as well as some Chiffchaffs. I had to compare this photograph with pictures in my bird book before I was certain that it was a Willow Warbler rather than a Chiffchaff. Colour is not a reliable guide, especially when the bird is backlit as here, but the relatively long wings identify it.

There were also several singing Blackcaps, yet another kind of warbler but, unlike most of this rather featureless family, easily identified by the black cap of the male and the brown one of the female.

The Great Crested Grebes nesting under the willow tree near the bridge, whose nest was raided by an unknown predator, have built a new one under the same tree but nearer the bridge. It is too near to a Coots' nest to be ideally sited: Coots are omnivorous and aggressive and likely to eat a small chick that wanders off. On the other hand, this aggressiveness does deter other predators, so there is a dangerous bargain to be had. I think the water under this spot is deep enough to keep off the Grey Herons, anyway. There is abundant food here, since the wire baskets full of twigs just the other side of the bridge are alive with young perch about two inches long.

However, this grebe seems to feel that having to go through all that nesting rigmarole again is pretty boring. Soon after I took this picture she went to sleep. Her mate is the very dark bird with hardly any white on his face.

Blackbirds have also started nesting. This one carrying a worm made no attempt to eat it, and flew off holding it. He must be feeding his mate, as it is too early for their eggs to hatch.

And the Mute Swans nesting near the Lido have two eggs.

The unwise location of their nest can be seen from this picture. All I had to do was wait till the sitting swan got off her nest to swim around for a couple of minutes, and I could poke a camera right into it. They should have stayed in the reeds, as they did last year with the very successful result of seven cygnets.

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