Thursday, 6 September 2012

The first Shoveller of the autumn has arrived on the Long Water, a solitary female. She should be joined by others soon. One of the best winter sights in the park is fifty of these beautiful birds circling endlessly to bring up water plants and small insects from the bottom, which they hoover up with their big wide bills.

The returned Little Grebe was also visible for the third day running, but there seems to be only one still.

There are more of them in winter, especially during freezing weather when freezing weather drives them in from small ponds to the lake, where there is always a patch of open water for them. One of the best places to see them is under the willow tree overhanging the Long Water next to the Italian Garden, where once I saw five on an unfrozen patch the size of a ping-pong table, diving industriously and feeding perfectly well. Unlike Great Crested Grebes, they can be fairly casual about being surounded by ice, as their take-off run is only about a yard. Great Crested Grebes need a fifty-yard run unless there is a stiff headwind, and mostly leave at the first sign of ice and fly off to the Thames upstream of Chiswick.

The black and white Mallard and her (his?) mate have now completely regrown their wings. Many of the other Mallards are still unable to fly yet.

This young Chaffinch is often seen in the hazel thicket across the path from the leaf yard. It has not yet plucked up the courage to come down and take food from my hand, unlike several other Chaffinches which are now quite confident. But it is certainly interested and will come down eventually.

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