Sunday, 18 November 2012
The female Tawny Owl was in her lookout in the nest tree, gazing severely at me with her deep brown eyes. She is now as much of a regular in this place as the male owl is in his throne on top of the broken trunk.
This male Chaffinch was looking at me for a different reason: he was expecting to be fed. Immediately after I took the picture he flew down for a meal of pine nuts and sunflower kernels.
On the Long Water, the Little Grebes were being pestered severely by Black-Headed Gulls, which sat on the water around them waiting for them to surface with a fish they could try to seize. The Little Grebes sensibly moved under a bush and continued fishing where the gulls couldn't reach them. They are actually fairly well protected against gulls, because their amazingly fast dive is quicker than a gull's lunge. Their generic name Tachybaptus means 'fast diver'.
With practice, you can tell when a Little Grebe is about to dive. A fraction of a second before, it clenches down its feathers to make itself more streamlined under water. This is easier to see in winter, when the surfaced bird fluffs itself up to an almost hemispherical shape to keep itself warm.
Several rabbits were out on the Vista enjoying the warmth of the sun.
It will be interesting to see whether the myxomatosis that has kept their numbers down has finally burnt itself out. A big old rabbit suffering from the disease was seen earlier this year. But now that their numbers are increasing, there is reason to hope. The foxes are probably hoping for the same thing.
Mallards are so common that it is easy to forget the splendour of their plumage, until you see a male with his iridescent green and blue head catching the sunlight at just the right angle.