Tuesday, 30 October 2012
There are two Kingfishers on the Long Water, and they are making themselves quite easy to see -- a change from their usual behaviour on the lake, when you might be lucky to see a momentary blue flash once a year. This is a very poor picture, but it was taken at a distance of 100 yards, from the balustrade of the Italian Garden. The bird is stationed on a leaning post on the west side of the water, just to the north of the fallen horse chestnut tree.
The two Tawny Owls were sitting side by side in the beech tree next to their nest tree, but they were doing the photographer no favours and I am not going to publish the ridiculously bad picture I took of a few brown feathers and one dark eye watching me through a mass of leaves.
Here instead is an easy shot of a Pochard looking rather fine with the low sun illuminating his rusty head and brilliant red eye.
Some of the male Tufted Ducks are already in their full breeding plumage of smart black and white. They breed and moult later than other ducks (though they have not managed to breed on our lake for several years). Here one of them dives to escape a Mallard trying to steal a piece of bread from him.
Some Feral Pigeons were enjoying a meal of curry and rice which someone had strangely put out for them. Birds cannot taste capsaicin, the substance that makes chilli seem hot to us. This is a nice piece of evolution. The chilli plant's seeds are dispersed by being eaten and excreted by birds, whose fast digestive systems don't kill the seeds. The ripe fruit is red, a colour that birds can see but most mammals can't, and the hot taste deters mammals, but not birds, from eating the fruit.
Yesterday I photographed a ring on a Black-Headed Gull, an ordinary British ring with the number EP 24143, and emailed Roy Sanderson about this. He told me that this bird was ringed in Kensington Gardens on 19 December 2002, and it has been seen here in the winters of 2005/6, 2006/7, 2010/11 and 2011/12. Today I got two more numbers of rings on Black-Headed Gulls, EP24656 and ET34537. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is known about their history.