Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Great Crested Grebes at the Serpentine outflow have left their nest, and I have still seen only one chick. Probably that is the only one, but you can't be sure what surprises these birds carry under their wings. Grebe chicks crawl about on their parents' backs and often fall off, as has happened here. It soon climbed on again.

It seems odd to be writing about newly hatched birds almost halfway through September. But grebes really don't have a breeding season. They breed when they are well fed. Elsewhere on the lake, a grebe has already gone into its monochrome winter plumage. Here it has turned on its side to preen its brilliant silvery white belly, which makes it less visible from below as it is almost as bright as the water surface.

Meanwhile, a pair of Cormorants stand on the wire baskets next to the newest Great Crested Grebes' nest.

These floating baskets contain water plants, and the original idea was that the plants would grow out of the basket and conceal the ugly wire mesh. However, Coots and various waterfowl ruthlessly eat anything that protrudes from the surface, and the baskets are not looking as good as they might. They also sometimes break away from their moorings and float across the lake. In fact the grebes' nest is built in the angle where a basket has come loose at one end and turned inwards.

Here one of the eldest brood of Mute Swan cygnets flaps its enormous wings.

They are still not making any serious attempt to fly. When they do, they usually rush across the lake in a group and labour majestically into the air, though sometimes one of them loses control and crashes back into the lake.

There was a Nuthatch walking on the ground in the shrubbery by the Long Water, an unusual sight. But I suppose that if there are insects on the ground, they will go down and catch them.

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