Friday, 26 November 2010

Birds, beasts, a bunny and trees

Mute swan spots a rival upstream

The mute swans, who took over the dominant role this autumn, seem to have been effective in driving away rival swans and we seldom see 'intruders' in the area. They aren't happy with Bidou the black swan but are less aggressive with her than with rival mute swans. Poor Bidou spends much of her time alone and we hear her forlorn high-pitch calls as she announces her presence to all and sundry. When she's in full voice she starts with a deep booming grunt culminating in a shrill high-pitched trumpeting call. When we haven't noticed her and she wants to draw our attention to the fact that she's waiting to be fed she limits the call to a more gentle, mid-pitched sound, loud enough to let us know she's around but not full volume.

Male tufted duck grooming

The tufted ducks used to be so shy when we came back to the UK in 1995 after living overseas for quite some years. As soon as the 'tufties' spotted movement in the house they would swim out to the middle of the river. I never saw one use our feeding platform. Now, many of them are so habituated to the feeding environment that they fly up at me when I go out to feed them. When the river is clear it's amazing to watch them dive, swimming some distance underwater for the wheat seem to enjoy so much. They also 'haul out' on our feeding platform to groom sometimes, which is lovely to watch. They have the most adorable way of communicating with each other and we often hear them chattering away to each other when the river is quiet.

Tufted duck gives a quick flap of his wings after grooming

Male 'tufties' have striking, beady eyes

Autumn colours in Bushy Park

Only a couple of weeks ago the trees in Bushy Park were ablaze with colour but the recent strong winds and bitterly cold weather has taken its toll and many of the trees are now almost bare.

Wild rabbit in one of the woodland gardens

Hunched up against the cold this rabbit appeared reluctant to move when I approached it. I stopped at what I considered to be a 'non-threatening' distance from it and observed it for a couple of minutes before moving on.
The Diana Fountain

After what seemed like an age the Diana Fountain was restored to its former beauty some time back and is a stunning central feature of Bushy Park. Here, it's pictured from the side with a backdrop of autumn foliage.

Red deer

I came across this stag while taking a short-cut through the bracken in the park. The rut was almost over and most of the stag activity had subsided. I hadn't noticed him as I trudged through the deep bracken and was somewhat surprised when he raised his head and gazed at me with bored eyes.