Sunday, 2 June 2013

Three Reed Warblers were singing, two at opposite ends of the reed bed near the Lido, and one on the west side of the Long Water a hundred yards north of the bridge. All remained stubbornly invisible. Unlike the Bearded Tits who proved so easy to photograph, Reed Warblers tend to stay inside the reeds, and seldom venture up a stem where you can get a good picture.

The pair of Great Crested Grebes under the willow tree near the bridge were making a great fuss over their second nest, and with luck they should soon be back with more eggs to sit on. One of them caught a large and sustaining fish in the wire basket on the other side of the bridge. The better fed they are, the more their thoughts incline to breeding, and in fact food, rather the time of year, seems to be the main impetus for them to begin.

At the island, one of the grebes brought a fish far too large for its youngster to eat, and swallowed it itself. This is a problem at the moment, because the delay in spawning caused by the cold spring has resulted in a lack of suitably small fish to feed the chicks. But the chicks are surviving,possibly on small invertebrates. The other pair of grebes at the east end of the island remain in the shadows, and this was the best picture I could get of them. Two chicks are visible, and that may be all they have.

The two Greylag families have joined forces, and crossed the Serpentine together and went to graze on the south bank. Clearly four lookouts are better than two, especially in this dog-infested area. There are still nine goslings.

The unusual black and white Mallard looked quite decorative when she was dabbling for algae on the edge of the lake.

Although she has been with the same drake for at least two years, the pair never show any sign of nesting. If they did, there would be some odd-coloured ducklings, as it takes a couple of generations for the black and white pattern to revert to normal. Often the males have standard colours but with a broad white neck ring or apron instead of the narrow ring of a normal Mallard.

A few Swifts high over the lake. No sign of the Little Owl when I passed his tree, but I am sure the warm sunshine will tempt him out at some time today. A loud cheeping noise from a lamp post halfway along the south side of the Serpentine showed that it contained a nestful of young Blue Tits.

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