I bought myself an hour today and spent it at South Norwood lake, soaking up the sunshine and watching geese obstruct a sailing race. It felt a lot like the first day of Spring, and from what I saw the birds were feeling it too.
Being relatively new to birding, it is constantly exciting for me. Every month it seems there is a new spectacle to behold in the natural world. Mid march marks the beginning of mating season for many birds. As I walked around the lake, I noticed that the birds were all paired off, like the end of a school disco.
I found these two loved up moorhens balanced in the bracken, rubbing beaks and so began my journey to document the love birds of SE20.
It wasn’t long before I found more couples tucked away into the banks of the lake. Here’s a quick breakdown of what I saw:
- Several couples of Canada Geese
- A few hundred couples of Feral Pigeon
- A characterful couple of Parakeets
- A couple of gorgeous Mute Swans
The parakeets were the most affectionate of the lot, although I admit I have a certain soft spot for them. I first saw one of them alone on the branch and tried, as I always do, to coax him down to eat out of my hand. He didn’t come down, instead he squawked at a hole in the tree and out popped his mate to join him on the branch. They began slightly apart, stealing cautious glances at each other, before shuffling next to one another to rub beaks and put on a lovely display of courtship.
Skip forwards a few hours and I found myself in Crystal Palace Park, looking for more signs of Spring, love and courtship. I found plenty, however the mood at the Palace was quite different from that at the lake. There seemed to be a more forced approach to courtship here, making for plenty of observation opportunities, at the same time making me feel a little awkward.
This change in tempo is beautifully illustrated by these obliging feral pigeons. They went from 0 to 60 in 4 frames.
I think the look on this squirrel’s face says it all really.
Having noted the most amorous display, I cleansed my palette with some flowers and other signs of spring. Lush purple hyacinths sprung up here and there, with of course the obligatory daffodils. Spring has definitely arrived in Crystal Palace Park.
Of course, this is the real world, and not all the birds have found their true love. Back at South Norwood Lake I spent some time with my old friend the great crested grebe. Last time I visited him, he had a harem of lady grebes, but today he was all alone, fishing. Perhaps he just needed to clear his head.
As well as the lone grebe, I found a goldcrest flitting about. He didn’t seem too fussed to be on his own. Not far from the goldcrest was a wiggly worm, who I nearly stepped on. The worm reminded me how few invertebrates I have seen over the past few months, and how much I miss photographing bees.
Just for fun, here is a list of love birds that mate for life, supposedly:
- Bald Eagle
- Mute Swan
- Scarlet Macaw
- Laysan Albatross
- Whooping Crane
- Californian Condor
- Atlantic Puffin
- Black Vulture
This list is not exhaustive, in fact around 90% of bird species are monogamous, but although this means they may nest together and raise their young together, some have been known to cheat. There is a difference between social and sexual monogamy. Perhaps some bird couples just operate an open relationship policy.
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