Sunday 11 October 2015

One of the young Grey Wagtails was using a post under the bridge as a station for catching insects, flying out whenever one passed and returning to the post.

A pair of Greylag Geese came down on the lake. It is quite a graceful descent, waterskiing on webbed feet to soften the contact with the water.

Cormorants can't do this as well, because their feet are set farther back and only a little skiing is possible before they splash down.

I have never seen a Cormorant come down on land, but they must be able to because you see them on quite tall posts and jetties in the river, which they couldn't possibly have jumped up to. It is probably a very clumsy business. I doubt that they can take off from flat land, as their takeoff from water involves quite a long run.

But no water bird lands less gracefully than the elegant Great Crested Grebe, whose legs are set so far back that they are no use at all here. It loses height, dangling its feet, and the moment its toes touch the water it folds its wings and crashes in a shower of spray. And, of course, it is almost helpless on land -- the price for having legs so thoroughly modified for fast swimming.

The older brood of Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water are mostly fishing for themselves now. Here is one of them under water near the Italian Garden.

Their parents still feed them occasionally, but if the young birds get too demanding they are chased away.

A young Herring Gull was trying to stand on one of the buoys surrounding the Lido swimming area. Every time it came down on one, the buoy rotated and it had to jump off.

A juvenile Black-Headed Gull was trying the same game.

Note how its primary feathers are an even dark colour all along. On a Herring Gull of the same age, however dark t was, the inner primaries would have pale tips. This is the only reliable way of telling the two species apart at this age, before their dark or light grey adult feathers have begun to grow on their backs.

The male Little Owl was in this year's nest tree. He gave me the briefest of glances and went back into a doze.

These mushrooms are young Poplar Fieldcaps, Agrocybe cylindracea. They announce their identity by growing under poplars, unlike other Fieldcaps which, as the name suggests, grow in grass. These are under the Lombardy poplar overlooking the water at Peter Pan.

This is the tree that has dropped a branch into the water. It is also leaning over more and more, and it is likely to fall into the lake during the next gale.


  1. Good evening Ralph
    Have you ever seen Waxwing in the park before?

    1. Yes, on 8 April 2013. But they are strangely uncommon in the park.