Sunday, 20 October 2013

A pair of Cormorants were cruising over the baskets of twigs near the bridge, poking through the mesh to try to find a fish.

They were not successful, and soon gave up and resumed normal Cormorant-style fishing in open water.

Grebes are much better at fishing around these baskets because they are smaller and more agile. But fish are not the only food for grebes: they also eat little invertebrates of all kinds that they find clinging to the stems of water plants. Here one of the young Great Crested Grebes has found some unidentifiable but nutritious creature attached to a reed stem near the Italian Garden.

In one of the Italian Garden ponds, the two young Mute Swans were being very affectionate with each other.

This is their private kingdom where they are safe from being beaten up by the dominant swans on the main lake, and they seem perfectly content in the four small square pools -- and, on one occasion, the smaller round pool in the middle which a swan can't climb out of, and I had to rescue it by putting in a duckboard from one of the other pools. The algae apparently provide enough food for them. Possibly they come out after the park has closed and eat grass to vary their diet. They certainly move around from one pool to another.

On the shore by Peter Pan, a Carrion Crow was eyeing me hungrily.

I had just given a digestive biscuit to another member of the family, so this one wanted one too. They are absurdly fond of these treats, and carry them away to a secluded spot where they can smash them up and eat them. If you try to walk past without feeding them they stand in your way, and one of them even flies over your head and bashes you in passing.

Crows are passerine birds -- that is, they belong to the group that includes songbirds -- and they have the mechanism for clenching their toes around branches that I mentioned yesterday. When the bird squats down on its haunches, the tendons running around the back of its tarsi are pulled, causing its toes to curl up.

The male Little Owl was in his usual place, taking advantage of a sunny spell.

The Mistle Thrushes that were tormenting him yesterday had gone somewhere else. However, they are still not feeding on the berry-laden rowan trees on Buck Hill. Today, only a Jay was there.

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