|Lee Valley canal system|
This picture was taken on the canal between Ware and Hertford on Sunday morning. There was one chick and a mating pair, which I watched for sometime. According to a passing cyclist there had been two chicks initially, it could have been taken by a number of predators including Pike. This bird is no stranger to adversity in the mid 19th century the population was hunted to around 40 pairs because the skins were so coveted by the fashion industry. They are interesting birds; their displays of spring courtship are one of the spectacles of the mating season. The pair I saw was still mating and the male was displaying after completion which was rather entertaining as the head shaking and feather ruffling is such a blatant show of pride. The young are patterned rather like a zebra and will keep that plumage until the winter by which time they will be about the same size as the adult. When the chick is fully fledged the parents will either drive the juvenile away or the family will just split. It seems like a sharp contrast from the first few weeks of life when the parents carry the chick round on their backs.