I make the last minute decision to go to London to meet friends and go to a concert. I pack a bag like a whirlwind, with most of my time spent choosing my photography gear. Who cares whether I have the right clothes compared with the agony of having the wrong lens?
My aim is to spend some time in The Regent’s Park, with the birds, in passing. Maybe I’ll see a Little Owl? If not, at least there’ll be ducks and gulls to entertain and delight.
I’m not disappointed. There’s a pair of Coot on a nest close to the path.
They make wonderful attentive parents, chasing off any goose who dares to intrude into their personal space and feeding the two chicks delicious morsels. Here’s some pond weed, delivered with a gentleness which is adorable to see.
First they feed one chick, then the other:
It’s not just pond weed which they feed on, here’s a bloodworm, delicately held between the mandibles and precision-guided to one of the chicks:
Their level of care is exemplary.
They are great parents.
It’s thoroughly entertaining watching the two youngsters:
Then there’s a moment to treasure as I see a baby Coot emerge from the dark shadows into the sunshine with a bow-wave of ripples and a reflection in the coal-black water:
It looks amazing:
It’s time I left them for my evening’s entertainment.
The next day I decide I’d like to see them again and arrange to meet up with my son who lives not far away from the Park. I’m excited to show him the nest.
We arrive full of anticipation.
Today, there is only one chick.
We check again and again. We check the back of the nest. We scour the horizon. We look in the water. We wait to see if it’s hidden behind another duck or goose or Coot. We hold our breath thinking it might have dived. We look down all along the bank.
Nothing. That beautiful chick we saw yesterday has gone. It was probably a tasty morsel for one of the local Herons. I look accusingly at likely perpetrators but they give nothing away.
It’s life and death in The Regent’s Park. How many chicks will there be tomorrow?
Go out. Walk in the countryside. Take your wellies. Wade in a stream. Find a stone. Turn it over. Marvel at life.