Monday, 23 April 2012

A drizzly day and only one owlet visible, sheltering from the rain under an overhanging branch. There was nothing much to see around the lake, apart from a male Blackcap jumping around and ticking furiously, probably agitated by a Magpie.

I went up to the Round Pond. The House Martins have arrived, and I saw eight of them hunting insects low over the water. There will be plenty of mud for them to build their nests in the cornice of the French Embassy in Knightsbridge. A Pied Wagtail, also in search of insects, was running along the edge.

The only brood of Egyptian Geese on the pond was down to three, and two of these had angel wing, so the poor creatures will not last long. Usually the Round Pond is a better place for Egyptians than the main lake, but this year there are six surviving young on the lake. It is still early and there is plenty of time for these prolific birds to breed again. Roy Sanderson said to me, 'They will be the next Canadas,' meaning that they will become numerous enough to be a nuisance. But their young are very attractive.

These birds, though not actually geese (they are big ducks), are genuinely Egyptian. Here is a wall painting from the tomb of Nebamun, a rich official of about 1400 BC, showing him wildfowling in the marshes with his wife and daughter. The original is in the British Museum. An Egyptian Goose stands in front of his feet, about to disappear into a stand of papyrus. Other birds in the picture include male and female Pintail (occasionally seen on our lake), a Grey Heron, and a Red-Footed Falcon.

The Egyptian hieroglyphic for 'son of' is an Egyptian Goose, and you will find this symbol in the names of pharaohs, which are easy to see in the text as they are written in oblong boxes.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for the link for the 'Egyptian Geese' SIC to one of the original Egyptian wall paintings. And thatn you for correcting my error in classification. I recently 'corrected' another visitor to the Park who was referring to them, correctly, as 'ducks'.