Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Autumn competes with a reluctant winter

  Autumn colours refuse to fade in Richmond Park

A wintry scene in late November in the lovely Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park stopped visitors in their tracks.  People paused for a while as they wandered through the gardens to take in the lovely autumnal reflection.

 A male tufted duck reflected in the river outside my window

 A show of strength

The swans are flexing their wings in a determined effort to establish this stretch of the river as their territory.  There seems to be an increase in the number of attacks and counter attacks between the main dominant pairs. 

Another successful display of dominance

Every day there are attempts from neighbouring swans to drive off the local dominant swans.  Both pairs have one remaining cygnet each and the youngsters are usually driven off by the rival parents.  Their own parents are beginning to tire of them, too, and should soon be driving them away permanently.  Bidou, the black swan, also enjoys chasing both cygnets!  I think she's taking it out on them because their parents always send her packing!  Bidou has become very vocal recently and has taken to arriving at first light and 'trumpeting' outside our window to let us know she's here for an early breakfast.  We sometimes hear her calling from a distance as she makes her way towards her first port of call for the day - the feeding plank.  She's a favourite with most Taggs Islanders - we all wish she would find a mate as she seems so lonely at times.

Sunrise over Hampton Court bridge

Moonrise over trees on Taggs Island

Dave took this lovely image of moonrise on the night of full moon in early December.  We've had some cloudless frosty nights and I love to look at the silhouettes of the beautiful trees on the towpath and gaze at the moon and stars in a vast dark sky.

Mistle thrush sings its heart out

We've been wondering which bird was singing so sweetly over the Christmas period.  I thought that only robins sung in December but we've been serenaded for days by rival birds.  Today we were finally able to identify the songbird and I was surprised to discover that it was a mistle thrush.  Dave recorded its song so, if you'd like to hear it for yourself, just click on the arrow above.  While we were admiring it a rival turned up and there was quite a battle.  I'm not sure which of the two won the skirmish but shortly afterwards the victor was laying claim to the territory.