Friday 29 November 2013

A second Little Grebe appeared at the top of the Long Water near the Italian Garden.

I don't know whether there have been two of them for a while, but this is the first time since the summer that anyone has seen two together, and I think the second one may be a new arrival. They seemed to have nothing to say to each other, and in this distant shot one just happened to be passing the other, going in opposite directions.

One of the young Great Crested Grebes was fishing with its father. Here is is, oddly distorted by the ripples on the water.

This is not a fishing lesson as such, I think, though it will certainly help with learning to hunt. The young grebes begin by looking under water to see where their parents are so that they can be first to grab any fish that is caught. Then they start following them, at first only able to dive for a few seconds. And this develops into full co-operation. When they have mates the pair will often fish together, each chasing fish towards the other.

A pair of Egyptian Geese have started their usual winter game of flying to the tops of dead trees and making a loud display.

This is really just a ritual, not real nest seeking for the coming spring, as the trees they choose are quite unsuitable for nesting in.

And a Moorhen was also enjoying the favourite game of running along the chain and knocking the Black-Headed Gulls off their posts one by one. This was the fourth in a row.

It stopped after the fifth because the next bird was a Cormorant and stood its ground.

The Tawny Owls are in exactly the same place in their beech tree. They were awake enough to turn round and look at me as I approached through the rustling dead leaves.

They are very sensititive to rustling sounds, as they hunt mice at night by the tiny sound the mice make as they move. Tawny Owls have excellent vision, including at night, but their hearing is phenomenal, both in sensitivity and in directional accuracy.

Readers interested in the language of birds should have a look at a very interesting piece by Africa Gómez in her blog, The Rattling Crow, on Blackbird calls.

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