Tuesday, 14 May 2013
The baskets of twigs at the bridge, which are brimming with small fish, attracted a lot of Great Crested Grebes. Whenever the pair from the bridge, who regard this as their territory, saw an intruder, they briskly chased it away. This bird, in full retreat, was pursued under water at great speed until it came up in panic and laboured into the air for a few seconds before coming down at a safe distance. The pursuer never even bothered to surface to see if it had gone.
A Great Tit on the stonework of the bridge showed great skill in holding on to an almost smooth vertical surface.
I have seen tits landing on the ceiling of the tunnels under the bridge and clinging upside down to tiny irregularities in the stone. But I was never able to see how they performed the crucial half-roll that would allow them to make the landing. When a fly lands on the ceiling, it goes up vertically till its front feet touch and allows the impetus to flip it round till its two pairs of hind feet hit the surface. But that is not an option for a bird.
The pair of Grey Wagtails were also exploring the stonework of the bridge for insects, and occasionally dating out to take one in the air. There are a lot of small flies over the water at the moment.
As a result, there were even more Swifts over the lake, some of them at altitude, others skimming over the surface hunting low-flying insects. Occasionally they passed over the shore at ankle height, a most exciting thing to see. This poor photograph, the best I could manage, shows the extraordinary proportions of their wings, with enormously long primaries.
The pair of Nuthatches were flying around the southwest corner of the leaf yard, taking advantage of the nut feeder which had just been filled up.
They also came out to take some pine nuts off the fence. Like so many small birds, they prefer the high fat content and soft texture of pine nuts to the more austere and rigid peanuts.