Friday, 30 November 2012
The number of Shovellers is slowly increasing. I saw two males on Wednesday, five males and a female on Thursday, and seven males and a female today, slowly browsing their way up the Long Water and under the bridge into the Serpentine.
There are a lot of migrant Blackbirds in the park. This is a first-winter male who has not yet developed the yellow beak of a full adult.
You can tell the migrants from the regulars. The regulars are found in their usual territories even outside the breeding season, and most of them are used to being fed by visitors -- yesterday when I was walking across a wide expanse of grass, one flew out of a tree 50 ft away and plonked himself down in front of me with an expectant air. The migrants are found all over the place and take little notice of people; they are neither afraid nor interested.
Here is a female Red Crested Pochard on the Serpentine: the plainest in colouring of all ducks, completely without the usual speckled plumage. But she is a very elegant cappuccino colour, with a smaller version of the male's fluffy crest and a discreet dab of lipstick on the tip of the bill (though the male looks as if he had used the whole stick -- see Tuesday's picture).
Two Coots were passing the time by having a fight, while their mates cheered them on and occasionally joined in. Their style is peculiar: they lean back in the water and kick each other with their large, strong feet.
This seldom causes injury. There never seems to be a victory in these bouts either. You often see a dominant coot chasing off a subordinate, but the kicking contests just subside after a bit, and they lower their wings that were raised in threat and carry on as if nothing had happened.