Thursday, 24 April 2014

The male Little Owl was out on his usual chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

This is certainly the male, as he stayed quite calm when being photographed. The female would have rushed into their hole as soon as I looked up at her.

The Tawny Owl was also in his usual tree, high up and mostly hidden by leaves and branches. It took two visits to the tree to get this half-obscured shot of him.

One of the Pied Wagtails from the nest in the Dell is ranging along the full length of the lake searching for insects. It flew around the Italian Gardens; this picture was taken near the Serpentine bridge.

The Coots' nest in the Long Water just below the Italian Gardens has seven eggs in it. Here the female carefully turns them over to ensure even warming.

In the background is the inevitable crisp packet which Coots consider a necessary part of their home decoration. The Coot played with this for a while before attending to the eggs.

Nearby was this interestingly coloured Mallard drake, looking like a sepia photograph.

As far as I can see this is an example of the 'brown' colour abnormality, where the feathers have only red-brown phaeomelanin pigment and not black eumelanin -- but if so, the very dark colour of its front is remarkable. Its head is brown without any trace of the usual green-purple iridescence, and so are the parts of its secondary wing feathers that would normally be iridescent blue, which you can see under its raised wings. Feather iridescence is not caused by pigment: it is an interference effect. But here the abnormality has interfered with the interference. Its bill and feet are normally coloured; their colours are controlled by different genes from those that regulate the feathers.

Another surprising sight on the broken horse chestnut tree near the bridge: a squirrel carrying one of its young.

The baby seemed rigid and immobile and at first sight seemed to be dead, but someone with me saw it breathing while I was taking this picture. Probably baby squirrels automatically become immobile when picked up, as with picking up a kitten by the scruff of its neck.

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