Friday, 4 April 2014

The Little Owls in the chestnut tree have taken to looking out through the hole that gives access to their nest. The female quickly withdrew when first spotted, but this one must be the male as he allowed me to come quite close to the tree, just keeping one half-open eye on me.

Lower in the same tree a pair of Magpies were flirting, uttering the rather high-pitched single call that they use when their mate is present.

Magpies and other members of the crow family are technically songbirds. Their calls sound raucous to us, but if you recorded one and played it back at a higher speed it would become a melodious tweet.

The male Tawny Owl was in his usual place. There is now a wall of leaves in front of the balcony, so he was looking out sideways at the people who had come to admire him.

There is still absolutely no sign of owlets. Several people including myself have recently made serious searches of all likely places, with no result.

Blackcaps are still singing all round the Long Water, and a pair of females were chirping sharply at each other, sounding angry. But I have still not managed to get a photograph of any of them, as they either perch deep in the the bushes or dive into them as soon as I lift the camera. This nicely unobstructed picture of a male was taken yesterday by Noel Leaver.

This pair of Great Crested Grebes has been guarding the wire basket at the south end of the bridge for days, chasing away all other grebes that dare to approach.

Ther basket contains not only perch but a great many roach, now almost a year old. Gino Dallanegra saw them spawning, an unexpected sight as you don't expect roach to breed until they are two years old. These fish are the right size for adult grebes but would be too large for chicks. There is a grebes' nest on the Long Water opposite Peter Pan which has been attended for three days, but the birds may just be messing about, as grebes do, and may wait till later in the year before making a serious attempt at breeding.

The workmen installing the floating reed beds have added shiny silver tape and curious wind-turned bird scarers with large-eyed faces on them in an effort to stop birds from trampling and eating the young plants. A Moorhen was wandering around on one, utterly unscared by these devices.

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