Friday, 20 September 2013

The four young Mallards brought up in the Italian Garden ponds are almost grown up, and the drakes are already beginning to show signs of difference, with their bills turning yellow and the first green feathers on their heads. I think the order from front to back here is male, female, male, female.

They have not yet left the Italian Gardens, a very small world for a duck. But a Mute Swan is also a permanent resident of these little ponds, and shows no sign of wanting to leave. Two other swans have come in and gone away, so it is perfectly possible for a swan to get out. I have no idea whether they managed to fly away from the grass on either side of the garden -- swans can take off from land with a severe effort -- or whether they managed to get into the water by negotiating the steps and railings of the marble fountain, followed by a drop into uncomfortably shallow water.

Four young Egyptian Geese on the Serpentine were washing themselves, frequently diving and swimming several yards under water before surfacing.

It looks impossible but they manage it somehow, and I have also seen Greylags doing the same thing.

The Great Crested Grebes from the fallen poplar on the Long Water were on the Serpentine again.

The family from halfway up the Long Water have moved up towards the bridge, so it seems that there has been a territorial battle and an ajustment of frontiers. There is no disadvantage in being on the Serpentine side of the bridge -- quite the opposite, as there are lots of fish and the chicks were being fed often.

The Little Grebe -- I think there was only one -- was visible on the Long Water on the east side of the Vista.

The rowan trees at the top of Buck Hill held two Magpies, but nothing else.

There seem to be more Blackbirds than in previous weeks. Possibly there has been an early arrival of winter migrants. Here one preens his wing in the Flower Walk.

The Flower Walk also had at least four Coal Tits in the evergreens at the Albert Memorial end. There were two singing males in the summer, and it looks as if they have bred successfully. One of the males, encouraged by the warm sunlight, uttered a brief burst of song.

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