Thursday 30 January 2014

Another dark drizzly day, made more interesting by a flock of Long-Tailed Tits passing through the low branches of a lime tree near the Serpentine Gallery. Here is one of them hanging upside down in the endless search for insects, an arduous hunt in January.

As usual in winter, the flock was accompanied by other small birds, including a Coal Tit that evidently knew me, because it came to my hand to be fed. It looked like the smallest one from the leaf yard and, sure enough, when I got there it was nowhere to be seen. Probably all three of them had flown off to forage with the Long-Tailed Tits.

The male Tawny Owl was in his usual place. This picture is almost the same as many previous ones, but what is a day without a sight of an owl?

Four Coots on the Serpentine were having a fight, adopting their curious threat posture that makes them look like Sydney Opera House. Presumably it is intended to make them look larger and more imposing.

Usually they fight first and threaten later, an odd reversal of the usual procedure.

A visit to the Round Pond found the blonde Egyptian Goose who was hatched at the east end of the Serpentine last year. She is much the palest of the light-coloured Egyptians in the park. Here she displays her grey-beige flight feathers; on a normal Egyptian Goose, and even on the other pale ones, these are very dark brown, almost black.

There was also a fair number of Common Gulls. This is a first-winter one, beginning to grow adult light grey feathers on its back.

Common Gulls grow up in three years, between the two for Black-Headed Gulls and the four needed for Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-Backs. Next winter this gull will have a full set of light grey plumage but its head and breast will have dark streaks; the following summer it will be fully adult with a white head. Adults get dark streaks on their head in winter, but not on their front.

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