Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A quiet day, which does not mean that there was nothing interesting to see. The Tawny Owls were invisible in the leaves, but the Little Owl was on his usual branch waiting for a few moments of sunlight.

He has become completely blasé about people taking pictures from close quarters, and rather than sneak up to him, you have to call to him to attract his attention and see the stare of his fine yellow eyes. Probably we should leave him in peace. He has a whole family to support, as he has to feed his mate as well as the owlets.

This Carrion Crow was also trying to catch a bit of sunshine to bask in.

The main reason for this behaviour is to dislodge parasites in their feathers, which makes it easier to pick them out when the bird starts preening. However, birds certainly enjoy the warmth of the sun, and sometimes go into what looks like a daze when they are sunning themselves, rather like humans on the beach. This crow had its eyes shut for a lot of the time when it was stretched out, which it could safely do because it was behind a fence and outof the reach of people and dogs.

There were four male Mandarins on the posts offshore from Peter Pan, with nothing better to do than to preen their elaborate plumage.

Presumably all their mates are nesting in tree holes. On the posts farther away there was a line of Herring Gulls who would all welcome Mandarin ducklings, but not in a good way. There have been no survivals for several years; it is the same with Red-Crested Pochards, and I haven't seen any Tufted ducklings on the lake since 2008. Only the Mallards seem to get a few of their offspring through, by sheer force of numbers.

Also at Peter Pan, this Coot was proudly surveying the latest additions to her nest: two sweet wrappers and a bit of orange plastic.

Around the Long Water, four Blackcaps in hearing distance of each other were singing competitively. The male Goldcrest in the yew tree was singing remarkably loudly for such a tiny bird, and chasing his mate through the leaves. The yellow stripe on his head is very orange, so for a moment I thought he was a Firecrest, until I saw the distinctive black eye ring -- Firecrests have a horizontal stripe.

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