Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Tawny owlets were neatly lined up in the usual lime tree.

Their mother was probably in the same tree, but today I couldn't see her at all. Yesterday only part of one of her wings was showing. Lime trees give owls good cover, and the family seem to be much less pestered by Jays and Magpies here than they have been in previous years in other trees.

The first birds to raise a family in the new rafts of water plants are a pair of Moorhens, who have five chicks.

They had shown interest in the rafts when they were still being made on the shore, and they must have nested as soon as they were launched. This place provides rather good cover from gulls, which can't swoop down because the wire fences are in their way.

The Coots nesting at Peter Pan have one visible chick. Others may be hidden, or not yet hatched.

This site is sadly vulnerable to the many gulls that perch on the fence posts. There were at least 40 on the Long Water today, as usual mostly year-old Herring Gulls.

Another Coot was trying to eat a crayfish it had hauled up beside one of the wire baskets near the bridge.

It didn't do at all well, and eventually let it drop. There is some skill in eating a crayfish, which the big gulls have learnt and the Coots haven't.

The widowed Great Crested Grebe is still defending his territory on this basket, but two other pairs are moving in from either side with the clear intention of taking it over. This is one of them, in which the male has a distinctive dark face.

Earlier this year these birds were trying to nest on the east side of the Long Water near the bridge, but nothing came of it. The grebes on this lake don't get serious about nesting till July, when the new crop of young fish has reached a reasonable size.

Also near this basket there was the lone Mallard duckling which has somehow managed to survive gull attacks and parental neglect.

As usual its mother was nowhere to be seen. But it has now grown almost enough to be out of danger of being snatched, and its first set of proper feathers is beginning to appear.

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