Friday, 1 July 2016

It was a dark wet morning. Rain brings the insects flying over the water down to an altitude of a few inches, and the Swifts ...

... and House Martins come down with them.

A young Pied Wagtail was standing on a mat of algae on the Round Pond while its father flew overhead.

The young ones are now independent and catching their own insects.

The Magpie parent, on the left, also felt that its demanding offspring should feed itself, and was pointedly ignoring it.

The Great Crested Grebes on the lake are still feeding their chick, and will continue to do so for some time. The chick has started chasing its parents under water, which is how a young grebe learns to hunt. But the parent -- I think this is its mother -- got tired of being closely shadowed, and gave it a sharp peck.

Within seconds it was following her again.

There was a Mallard with two ducklings under the willow tree near the bridge.

I don't think these are the survivors of the family I photographed at the bridge on 18 June. They would be larger by now. I never saw that family again, and nor did anyone else I've spoken with.

Someone asked me where the male Mandarins had gone. The answer is that they've become invisible. In eclipse they look almost like females. In this picture the two farthest away are drakes, as shown by their reddish bills.

This Mallard has a very disturbed colour pattern.

The normal pattern of a Mallard drake in breeding plumage is itself a disturbance of the regular speckled pattern of a female. The surge of male hormones causes the speckles to break into blocks of colour. Mallard drakes in full eclipse, when the hormones have subsided, have the same pattern as females.

The male Little Owl was sitting out in the morning rain, getting wet. He shook the water off his feathers.

Later it brightened up, and one of the owlets came out to the front of the tree.

I visited the oak tree near the Albert Memorial three times to try to see one of the Little owlets there. The first two times one was looking out of the hole, but vanished the moment I appeared. The third time there was nothing. It's odd how much more timid these owlets are than the ones in the chestnut tree, which stand their ground and stare back at you.

A Grey Heron flew through the rain over the Long Water.

In the afternoon the sun came out briefly. Here is a heron looking for fish among the water lilies in the Italian Garden.


  1. Your camera shy birds at the Memorial sound more like the utterly exasperating little owls I know and love!

    1. Yes, the ones in the chestnut tree are exceptional. Even the shy female is now used to the camera. I've known the adults for more than four years, of course. The first picture on my blog back in April 2012 was of the male.

  2. Hi Ralph well the silly season seagulls are back, in fact they've managed to get exposure amid the several political earthquakes! Jim n.L.

    1. Can't help wondering if it's the one from Aberdeen that has moved south.

    2. Expect more wacky wildlife headlines next week as Blair's PR team attempt to distract from the Chilcot report...

    3. I'm sure it will appear with 90 per cent of the words blacked out. If indeed it really does appear.

  3. I had no idea that drakes look like females during eclipse! Lovely pictures again.

    1. I'm going to pretend I knew what the word "eclipse" meant in this context! :-)

    2. I must photograph a Mallard in eclipse. They're not quite there yet, just looking very tatty.