Tuesday 27 August 2013

A lucky sighting of one of the Tawny Owls today, most unusual for late August. It is the adult male, I think, though this shot taken in the dim shade at the top of of a tall lime tree is not clear enough to show it certainly.

Before I arrived, Paul Turner heard the male hooting, and went over to find both an owl and the Hobby family being harassed by a motley crew of Carrion Crews, Jays and Magpies a few yards west of the owls' nest tree, beside the path. By the time I turned up the row had subsided, and the Hobbies were circling and calling again. One of them settled in the crown of the enormous basswood tree, and here it is giving me a suspicious glance over its shoulder. Neither the owl nor the Hobby seemed uneasy about being so close to each other, in adjacent trees.

Today's pictures have one thing in common: they were taken from too far away, and are sadly grainy. But better that than no picture at all.

The first Common Gull of the winter season was on a post offshore from Peter Pan, yawning from time to time. Some of these Common Gulls migrate here from Scandinavia, and have a right to be slightly exhausted.

Very occasionally, Common Gulls arrive in Britain from Russia. These are considerably darker than our ordinary ones, and have more black and a smaller white 'window' on their wingtips. They belong to a different subspecies, Larus canus heinei, as opposed to the usual British form L. c. canus, such as the one pictured here. I saw what may possibly have been one of them in the park last winter, but am far from certain about this and never saw it again, so said nothing at the time.

The Great Crested Grebe family from the east end of the lake had come the whole way up to the boat hire platform. Here one of them tries to climb on to a parent's back. This results in the adult being pushed around in a circle, but the youngster always manages to scramble up somehow.

The two parents are quite similar in build, and it is uncertain which is which. On average, males are more heavily built and have wider heads with a broad angle on the upper crest. But there is a good deal of overlap between the sexes, and they have identical markings.

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