Friday, 11 April 2014

For several days a Grey Heron has been fishing in exactly the same spot in the Long Water under the marble fountain of the Italian Garden. There is a gap in the iron grating over the old water filter of the fountain, and the enclosed space under this grating is full of fish. The insatiable heron catches one every few minutes. Here the victim is a bream.

There was a good deal of chasing going on in the lake near the Vista. This is the bad-tempered Gadwall I photographed recently attacking a Red Crested Pochard. Now it has turned its attention to Tufted Ducks, and went for several of them as I watched.

So it seems to be a case of general aggressiveness rather than a particular hatred for Red Crested Pochards. This drake was with his mate; perhaps he was showing off in front of her, a behaviour often seen in geese.

An irresponsible dog owner was throwing sticks into the water for his pet, which is of course forbidden by several notices around this place, but dog owners live in a little bubble where their dog can do no wrong. The male Mute Swan whose nest is at the far end of the Long Water came by, and headed the dog off expertly and made it climb out. He has had plenty of practice in doing this, and an all-out attack is not required.

Nearby, a Moorhen was doing a bit of tree climbing. They are remarkably good at this and seem to enjoy it.

The female Little Owl appeared very briefly on the chestnut tree, giving time for just one snatched distant shot before she rushed into her hole.

One of the Grey Wagtails had stationed itself on the poles holding up the netting of the failed reed bed east of the Lido. (This is the reed bed that is now being replanted.) The bird was constantly leaping into the air to seize passing insects, and was catching a lot of them.

The Tawny Owl was not in sight, but there was an encouraging sign. A bunch of Jays had stationed themselves above the top entrance of the nest hole and were yelling as if taunting some creature visible inside it. This suggests that there really are owlets still in the nest.

Looking back, when the owls started nesting in the winter, for some days the female owl kept coming outside for short periods. Did this indicate that she hadn't laid any eggs yet, delaying the usually regular timing of their nesting?

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