Sunday 26 May 2013

Another pair of Greylag Geese have managed to elude the park staff and have produced seven goslings, which they were touting around the edge of the Serpentine hoping that people would feed them. I did, of course.

Yesterday, near this spot halfway along the south bank, I saw a Greylag landing on a branch near the top of a tall tree, no mean feat for a bird this size with flat webbed feet unsuitable for gripping branches. Possibly they had nested here, knowing that on the ground they were not safe from foxes, dogs or humans. It is no problem getting the goslings out of the nest, because they are so light and fluffy that they can fall any distance uninjured, and if their mother calls them they will confidently leap out of a tall tree. They can't go back up, of course.

There were five male Mandarins offshore from the Peter Pan statue, along with two Gadwalls. It proved impossible to get them to group for an attractive picture, even by bribing them with biscuits.

The Great Crested Grebe family remain in hiding under the bushes at the east end of the island. It is still not possible to count the chicks, but there were at least three. Here one of them looks out from the sheleter of its father's wings.

Using their wings as a playpen ruins the parents' flight feathers, but they will moult and regrow them before they need to fly anywhere.

Some of the Egyptian Geese are regrowing their flight feathers now, and some aren't: there seems to be no kind of schedule, unlike the Greylags which moult in unison during June. I suppose that these birds, far to the north of their natural home, have lost touch with the seasons. This would also explain why their breeding season seems to have no definite time.

The Little Owl was in his usual tree, looking as fine and fierce as ever.

There is no sign of owlets -- but there is no sight of the female owl either, so it seems likely that they are still looking after their young on the nest in this very delayed year.

To continue the theme of Great Tits in flight, here is a picture hastily snatched by Andy Sunters of one landing on my hand. It is stopping as hard as possible, with its wings and tail almost at right angles to its direction of travel, and stretching out its feet to grasp my fingers.

Great Tits can land on an unfamiliar object with great ease, but Blue Tits, Robins and Chaffinches find it harder and sometimes miss and have to go round again until they have learnt the technique.

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