Sunday 12 January 2014

There was a distinct, though false, feeling of spring on this chilly grey January day. Some primroses were out in a shrubbery near the bridge.

Of course they were planted -- genuine wild plants that appear in the park are mercilessly ripped out. But they are real single primroses, not gardeners' polyanthus.

A Grey Heron was standing in a nest, originally the small remnant of last year's nest to which it had added some more twigs.

I don't think it was serious about nesting. Last year the herons built early, abandoned their attempt during the long cold spring, and never restarted. Our herons are are not methodical like the efficient birds of Regent's Park and Battersea Park.

The gander of a pair of Greylag Geese on the Serpentine island was also feeling the coming of a new season, and was defying the nearby geese with his head held in the typical low threatening posture.

Some Mute Swans were also chasing each other -- not that it takes much to set these irascible birds off on one of their territorial wars.

There were some Shovellers at the island.

Here a female passes in front of a female Mallard, which looks very much alike and it would be easy to confuse them if you couldn't see the Shoveller's enormous bill. Shovellers also hold their heads in a distinctive low posture for convenient shovelling, and the body slopes down more towards the tail than that of a Mallard. They are smaller than Mallards, but that is hard to tell unless the two species are side by side.

The Tawny Owls have not waited for spring; with an inexhaustible supply of mice they can just get on with breeding. This is the male on his usual balcony.

We hope that the female is now inside the nest tree and has some eggs, as this early-breeding pair have managed by this time in previous years.

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