Thursday 9 May 2013

The pair of Grey Wagtails were flying about at the east end of the Serpentine, near the place where we they usually nest, which is under the little plank bridge in the Dell.

In the same area, the Egyptian Geese had taken their four young out for a swim. The parents sensibly keep them close to the wall of the dummy bridge where the water flows out of the lake, making it difficult for Herring Gulls to swoop in and seize them. This careful attention explains why all four young birds are still with us. They should be in less danger soon, as they are growing fast. Here is the blond one; you can see on its shoulder that ginger feathers are beginning to emerge under its juvenile down.

In contrast, the incompetent pair of Egyptian Geese on the Long Water were honking and displaying and mating near the Italian Garden, and we know that any young they have will be gone within two days of hatching, as they have done every time since this foolish pair arrived on the lake several years ago. The parents simply fail to protect them.

There is a ninth Great Crested Grebe nest under the netting of the failed reed bed to the east of the Lido. This is an excellent place, protected from above and from the sides. It's also impossible to get a decent photograph of it, because of the netting.

However, the nest on the Long Water near the bridge remains highly visible. Here the mother has just vacated the nest, and the father (the very dark grebe) arrives to take over the care of their five eggs.

And she goes fishing in the baskets of twigs on the other side of the bridge, where a grebe can catch a small fish with almost every dive. There are little roach in there, as well as perch. Mostly the grebes swallow these two-inch-long fish without surfacing. This grebe has just done that before coming up, and now, for some reason unknown to me, she is blowing bubbles.

This pair of grebes consider that both the baskets belong to them, and attack any other grebe that dares to fish in them. But when all the chicks start hatching, I don't think they will be able to keep control of the basket at the far end of the bridge. Nor do they need to, as both baskets contain an abundance of small fish, and are unlikely to be exhausted because the grebes can only catch fish around the edges.

On a windy day there were many Swifts over the lake again, mostly hunting at high altitude, along with the local House Martins.

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