Monday, 12 November 2012
A dark grey day with drizzle. But at least the grey young swans on the grey Serpentine are beginning to grow their white adult feathers. It will be a long process, not complete until their first full moult next summer.
Someone asked me where the Shovellers have gone to. There are still not many of them, probably fewer than a dozen in all. Most of them are right on the west side of the Long Water between the bridge and the Vista, where there seems to be enough of their usual food -- small water plants and animals -- to keep them satisfied. Here are two males with a Great Crested Grebe looking for larger prey. There is also a lone male shovelling away on the Round Pond. Later, when more have arrived, we should be able to see their grand processional circles in the middle of the lake.
The Little Grebes were under the fallen horse chestnut tree in the Long Water, amusing themselves by chasing each other and uttering their distinctive giggling trill.
This is a comfortable place for them, as the remaining twigs of the tree provide a barrier against gulls, whose wings are too long for them to fly into an even moderately confined space and swim much too slowly to trouble the swift Little Grebes. The tree has been rotting in the water for several years now and is beginning to fall to pieces, a pity as it is a fine habitat for all kinds of birds.
Looking over the parapet of the Italian Garden, it was just possible to see the outline of a Great Crested Grebe as it dived.
This area at the top of the Long Water is a good place for small fish, partly because there is cover for them at the edge, and partly because of the air bubbler that is supposed to oxygenate the water. There is plenty of oxygen in the water anyway, and the main effect of the bubbler is to stir up silt from the bottom of the lake, bringing with it all kinds of small organisms that fish can feed on. Shovellers also eat these, and can sometimes be seen circling the bubbles.