Wednesday 14 August 2013

The family of Great Crested Grebes have emerged from the shelter of the island, and were being fed in the open water between the island and the small boathouses. They are now too large for both of them to sit on a parent's back. Here their father has shaken them off and is stretching his wings, which have grown stiff in holding a large chick.

Ulrike, who often comments on this blog, thought that yesterday's picture of a grebe's swimming action were too academic. So here is a brief YouTube video of a grebe swimming under water. It is the only good clip I could find, and shows the Western Grebe -- Aechmophorus occidentalis, the big American species -- in California.

Back home, here is the Zebra Finch that turned up unexpectedly in the Flower Walk a few days ago. This picture was taken by one of the gardeners, Bernard Horowski, who kindly sent it to me.

The bird is a female. It hasn't been seen for several days and may no longer be with us.

The ripening blackberries have attracted a fair number of Wood Pigeons.

These birds spend a lot of time climbing along thin twigs that are not up to their considerable weight, and often seem to be completely floundering in a bush. This one spent several minutes in finding a secure foothold so that it could reach out and grab its prize.

One of the Hobbies was calling from a tree near the Queen's Temple. It didn't emerge into sight. We shall have the family until some time in September, when they migrate to sub-Saharan Africa. They travel with the Swallows and other hirundines, eating a fair number of them on the way.

A female Mandarin poses nonchalantly on one leg on a post.


  1. I wonder where the Zebra Finch came from - I do know that Roundwood Park in Willesden has several large bird cages containing cockatoo, canary and a large number of Zebra Finch.

    1. When unusual creatures turn up in the park, I tend to think that they have been dumped there by callous people who have had them as pets and got tired of them. But who knows? A window left open, a gap in the netting in an aviary -- anything can happen.

      A few years ago as I was having breakfast, I glanced out of the window and saw an African Grey parrot blasting down Queen's Gate away from the park. When I got into the park a bit later, there were its owners wringing their hands. They had thought it would be nice to take their bird into the park for a bit of a fly around. The parrot had other ideas. I don't know what happened to it.