Friday 6 February 2015

The Scaup at the Round Pond came in to the shore, allowing a closer look at his developing male plumage. He is already growing white feathers on his side, in a similar pattern to that of a male Tufted Duck. Unlike a Tufted Duck, he will have a black and white vermiculated pattern on his back, which is at present restricted to his shoulders but will spread.

This female Pochard on the Serpentine shows the same vermiculated plumage, but it extends to her sides.

The two species are related: the Scaup is Aythya marila and the Pochard is Aythya ferina. A Scaup is slightly larger than a Pochard, and a lot larger than a Tufted Duck, though you hardly notice this when they are alone.

The crowd of Shovellers feeding on the Long Water had attracted several Black-Headed Gulls hanging around to see is some food would turn up for them to snatch.

That seems unlikely, since Shovellers scoop up tiny water creatures too small for a gull to notice. But possibly the shovelling action stirs up larger things. You would not expect a bird as intelligent as a gull to waste its time.

The young Mute Swan was still in the Italian Garden, hauling up some of the thick mat of algae on the bottom of the pond. While it is there, this is its only food unless people come to give it bread. It seems to be doing all right on the monotonous diet.

A shaft of sunlight caught a Moorhen walking across the top of the waterfall in the Dell.

Out on the Serpentine, another Moorhen was ruffled by the chilly east wind as it ran to avoid being knocked over by a wave.

The male Tawny Owl didn't emerge until it was getting dark.

This is the new gravel bank that is taking shape on the east side of the Vista. While the workmen were taking a day off, a fox sleeping among the half-cleared debris woke up and scratched its chin with a hind foot.

The bank is separated from the shore by a channel a few feet wide, which may help to make wading birds feel more secure if they visit it. But a fox could jump it without getting its feet wet.


  1. What's your view on the foxes Ralph? Are they controlled in any way? Do they predate a lot of eggs/birds?

    1. No one could control London foxes. They are boss. Yes, they do kill birds -- they got the male Long Water swan's mate in 2013, and of course the eggs she was sitting on. He promptly chose a new mate, so young that her bill was still a bit grey, and they successfully reared seven cygnets in 2014. Nature takes its course.

    2. Indeed. Ralph, my husband is interested in what photographic equipment you use. Is this mentioned on your blog at all? PS. Must Google 'vermiculated plumage'!

    3. "marked with sinuous or wavy lines" :)

    4. For the past fortnight I have been using a Pentax K-3, mostly with a Sigma 150-600 mm lens. If it rains I switch to a Pentax 55-300 mm lens, which is waterproof but doesn't have the same reach. I am still getting used to this massive device, and hope to be taking better pictures soon. Previously I was using a Panasonic Lumix FZ200, with a 1.7x teleconverter for long shots. With the teleconverter he zoom would simulate a focal length of about 1000 mm, but the image quality wasn't as good as with the Pentax, of course.

    5. Thanks Ralph for taking the time to explain this.