Friday 9 August 2013

Reed Warblers have bred in the reed bed near the Diana fountain. Scratchy begging cries could be heard from the middle of the larger of the two sections of reeds, while adults whizzed along the whole length of the bed, presumably looking for insects for their young. It was very hard to get more than a momentary glimpse of these restless, busy birds.

This is not the first time that Reed Warblers have bred in the park. Last summer they bred in the small reed bedon the Long Water next to the bridge, an oddly cramped site from which they moved as soon as the young birds could fly. Now that some of the beds are consolidating and slowly spreading into the many areas where the planted reeds died, it is becoming a better habitat, and I think that this year has been the first when we had three singing males.

My suspicion that someone has dumped goldfish in the Italian Garden was confirmed when a couple of them emerged from a clump of plants in the northwest pond in the Italian Gardens. This explains why the Grey Herons were so interested in the pond a few months ago, though it is too deep for them to stand and they didn't succeed in catching anything from the edge, and eventually gave up and left.

They were in the pond nearest the gate, so there was less distance to carry the bucket. It was also used to dump an unwanted batch of goldfish -- at least 40 of them -- in 2007. These were killed (deliberately and unnecessarily) when the ponds were drained.

There was also a silver fish which I saw only momentarily, but it had dark vertical bands on it like a perch. However, it is more likely that it was an oddly marked carp.

In the same pond, a Moorhen chick sitting on a stem of purple loosestrife was contemplating a bumblebee.

And in the next pond a Coot surfaced directly underneath one of its chicks. The chick was not disturbed by this, and paddled off calmly.

Coots have difficulty diving because they are intractably buoyant. They have to paddle furiously, head down, to stay under and gather weed from the bottom. As soon as they stop paddling they surface stern first. It is not an elegant performance.

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