Tuesday, 1 January 2013
A very happy New Year to all. The star of the show today was a Goosander, an adult male looking very fine in his black and white breeding plumage with a smart red bill.
He was industriously fishing along the edge of the Italian Garden, diving with grace and speed, a rakish bird quite unlike ordinary ducks. He caught a very large fish, far too big to eat.
The fish struggled and got away, and the Goosander sailed down the Long Water and under the bridge in the hope of finding fish of a more manageable size. I saw it briefly through binoculars at the Serpentine island, but by the time I had got there it had vanished -- perhaps it was fishing among the moored pedalos on the south side of the island, a popular spot for Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants.
The last Goosander to visit the park arrived at the beginning of December 2010, when the lake was mostly frozen. It was a young female, a very different looking bird with grey and white plumage and a red head.
The Goosander didn't come near enough the edge for an underwater photograph, so you will have to be content with this one of a Tufted Duck, a competent diver but with nowhere near the skill or speed of a Goosander.
There was also a Yellow-Legged Gull. They are quite frequent winter visitors but often go unnoticed, since they look very like Herring Gulls and it is only the colour of their legs that distinguishes them, and the brightness of the yellow varies.
Three Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush were singing in Kensington Gardens. The female Tawny Owl had come out on to her usual balcony on the north side of the nest tree, though her mate was nowhere to be seen and was probably idling indoors.