Sunday, 26 August 2007

A partner for Bidou, or not?

This camera-shy dabchick (little grebe) took ages to photograph as it dived every time I tried to focus on it. I ended up with plenty of blurred images or glimpses of tails and feet disappearing from view. Several photographer friends told me that they, too, find dabchicks a challenge. We decided that their fluffy little bodies confuse the automatic focus and it's better to focus on the head and eye to get the sharpest results.

This heron, photographed at the Barnes Wetland Centre, was looking mean and hungry. It wasn't too long before it struck lucky and speared a fish. They are magnificent birds to watch as they move stealthily along river banks and reedbeds, poised and ready to strike when they spot their preferred prey.

A result of my spoiling the garden birds with sunflower hearts is a garden full of sunflowers in the most unlikely places. We've had one grow and flower from a tiny gap in our decking and there are at least a dozen other sunflowers scattered around the garden. They're so lovely I haven't the heart to remove them even when they are in the wrong place.

Many of the islanders got excited on Monday when we saw Bidou and another black swan swimming upstream. We couldn't work out whether Bidou was chasing after the other swan to catch up with it or to chase it off. Sadly, the latter was true. We had all hoped that she had finally found at least a friend, or better still, a mate.

She calls by for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and takes time to preen her feathers every morning, except when the mute swan family see her off. She is an elegant looking swan but still seems nervous of us when feeding. She flinches when I throw her the wheat and snatches at the food nervously. Perhaps she had a bad experience when she was younger?

As the breeding season comes to a close and the ducks, swans and geese are going into moult, the mute swan family are slightly less aggressive with Bidou. Occasionally, the cygnets even allow her to feed alongside them. As you can see, if you've looked at my earlier postings, these two have grown considerably and are almost at the stage when their parents will chase them away and stop looking after them. Life can be so cruel!

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