Saturday, 20 July 2013

On a mostly cloudy day a spell of sunshine brought out two birds to sunbathe: a Blackbird ...

... and a young Robin, still in gingery juvenile plumage.

The two birds were inches apart, but took no notice of each other.

A female Peregrine passed over Kensington Gardens, circling westwards on the east wind.

The Mallard on the pond in the Italian Garden has kept her four ducklings safe for several days now by herding them into one of the clumps of water plants. They are still small enough to go through the wire netting. On the Serpentine there are five young Mallards which are now probably big enough to be safe from attack by gulls. And broods of four and two are often to be seen at Peter Pan. It has been an unusually good year for them -- but curiously not for any of the other species of duck on the lake (unless you count Egyptian Geese, whose status is rather uncertain but they are related to Shelducks).

The three young Moorhens in another Italian Garden pond have adopted an interesting feeding method. Some vandal has thrown one of the wooden duckboards into the middle of the pond, where it is floating upside down. The birds stand on this and haul clumps of algae on to it. Then they go through the algae to pick out the insects.

This butterfly is a Red Admiral, which sounds very masculine, but taxonomically speaking it has two girls' names, Vanessa atalanta.

The name Vanessa was made up by Jonathan Swift as a nickname for his pupil Esther Vanhomrigh. Atalanta is the name of a mythical heroine, an athlete and warrior who, among other things, was the only woman to sail with Jason on the Argo.

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