Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Grey Herons are well aware that there are goldfish in one of the Italian Garden ponds. This one had stationed itself in the best position for catching one, perched precariously on the edge of the wire netting and peering through the gaps in the algae to try to spot a flash of orange.

If it saw one and tried to catch it, I think it would fall off into water that is too deep to wade in. But herons can swim perfectly well if they have too -- I think they simply make running motions under water as Moorhens do, and somehow this propels them. And presumably they can take off from a floating position too, with one imperious sweep of their enormous magic-carpet wings.

The young Coot that had a narrow escape here yesterday was happily swimming around with its four siblings. Of course they all look alike, so I don't know which one it was.

There was a Chiffchaff singing on the path at the bottom of Buck Hill, near the bandstand; a most unseasonable time of year for a song. As usual, it was leaping about inside the tree as it sang, so there was no chance of a picture.

There are two Great Crested Grebe chicks in the nest at the Vista; I could see both of them clearly.

And there are also two chicks in the nest on the fallen poplar tree in the Long Water. Grebes take turns sitting on the nest, both when incubating eggs and when the chicks are too small to leave. While I was watching them from the bridge, the parents changed places. This nest is visible only from a long way off, but I think that this picture sequence is clear enough to show what happens at this time. (I know I am showing a lot of pictures of grebes, but they probably provide the most interesting action in the park at the moment.)

The bird on the nest stands up and shakes its wings, so that the chicks fall off its back into the nest.

Then, without a backward glance, it steps off into the water and swims away to have a wash and preen its disordered feathers.

The other grebe now climbs on to the nest -- awkwardly, they are not good on their feet -- and has a careful look at the chicks to make sure that they are all right, and not in a place where they will be squashed when it sits down.

Then it sits down, and the chicks crawl around to its rear and climb up into their comfortable downy bed under its wings.

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