Wednesday, 22 May 2013
The Great Crested Grebes at the northwest corner of the island are off their nest, so all the eggs must have hatched. They were just visible in a dark place under a bush, and I could see the heads of three chicks on their father's back. Their mother arrived with a fish, but it was not small enough and they couldn't swallow it, so she politely gave it to her mate instead and went off to look for something smaller.
It's quite difficult for them, because the fish are spawning late this year, and most of the young fish in the lake are now over two inches long.
I met Andy Sunters, who has been watching Little Grebes at the Wetland Centre. He said he had seen one with chicks to feed which had caught a large perch and shook it violently for three minutes till it fell apart, then dispensed the pieces to the chicks. It was also taking large caddis fly larvae and treating them in the same way. I have seen Little Grebes shaking fish very hard, but Great Crested Grebes don't seem to have picked up this trick to feed their young.
Both species of wagtail were hard at work getting food for their nestlings. This Pied Wagtail at the Dell restaurant had a collection of unidentifiable grubs or worms, and one long object that I think it must have picked up by accident.
This Grey Wagtail had come up the lake as far as the buoys marking off the swimming area at the Lido, and had a beakful of flies.
After I had taken this picture, it sped off in the direction of the Dell, where the pair are nesting. There are often wagtails on these buoys, which they use as a base for catching flying insects -- you see them leaping into the air to grab one. They like the buoys because they are far from human disturbance, and there are insects flying low over the water on both sides.
This Cormorant had just caught several small fish under the iron gratings below the Italian Garden, and was having a good scratch while it digested them.