Tuesday, 25 June 2013

It was a good day for owls. Three young Tawny Owls were visible in a group in the horse chestnut tree just to the north of their nest tree. They were moving about and would not pose in a neat group, so here are two pictures. They deserve the coverage, as we have seen so little of them this year.

They are almost completely adult in appearance apart from the slightly round, soft look common to teenagers of most species. I couldn't see a fourth owlet: we are not sure whether all four survived. Nor could I find the adults. They would not have been in the same tree as their offspring, as they like a bit of peace during the day.

Both Little Owls were also visible in their usual tree, though the female only came out for a short time and had gone in again by the time they arrived. The male has taken to perching on the leafless top of the tree, on the sunny side; he also spent some time here yesterday. Here he enjoys a good scratch.

It was time for my monthly bird count. There were 120 Greylag Geese and 131 Canadas on the Serpentine, a typical total for June when they come here to moult their flight feathers. There are sometimes higher numbers in winter when there is snow on the ground, another time they take refuge in the park because it is easy to scrape the snow off the grass on the Parade Ground.

There are nine Greylag goslings on the Serpentine, from two broods. No Canadas have managed to breed, owing to the vigilance of the park staff in finding their nests and pricking their eggs. Not that it makes much difference, as they breed briskly elsewhere, for example on the Grand Union Canal.

The Mute Swans still have nine cygnets from four broods, despite the sad loss of three from the brood on the Long Water, probably taken by a fox.

The Coots have not had a good year by their usual standards, and I only found four chicks. However, there are still quite a lot of nests on the go, and we may expect more. Here the male of the nest at Peter Pan strikes a heraldic pose while washing himself and simultaneously keeping an intrusive Mallard at bay.

All four Moorhen chicks in the Italian Garden are still with us, thanks to the cover of the reeds. I didn't see the ones under the boat hire platform, but they often stay under it for a long time.

There were three singing Reed Warblers: one on the Long Water, one at the Diana fountain, and one in the reed bed at the east end of the Serpentine.


  1. pleased to see all the owls! thank you (esp. since I've not been lucky myself for a long while)

  2. Great shots Ralph! I'll have to look for the Tawny Owls when I'm in the park this afternoon :)