Friday, 26 September 2014

There were five Goldcrests in a yew bush in the Flower Walk, and another three in the yew tree at the southwest corner of the bridge.

Goldcrests are short-lived birds, and many of them die in a hard winter. They make up for it by being highly prolific. More of them survived the recent mild winter than usual, so they have bred up to unusually large numbers.

There was a screeching commotion of Jays and Ring-Necked Parakeets at the Tawny Owls' nest tree. One of the owls, which had been sirring on a sheltered branch where we couldn't see him, suddenly rushed into the nest hole, while the angry birds continued to yell at it. This Jay can see down the top of the broken trunk where the nest is.

But all was peaceful in the chestnut tree where the two Little Owls were sitting companionably together.

This Carrion Crow is one of a pair that come to take peanuts from me when I go past the small boathouses on the Serpentine. Recently it has hurt its foot, and for several days couldn't put it down to the ground. But it is recovering, and today was the first day it could stand on two feet, though it is still limping.

Melissa, the crow who is the mate of Charlie and comes to the Italian Garden, is also a bit lame but recovering.

One of the Hobbies appeared briefly over the Serpentine, again coming from the tall towers of flats on the south side.

They don't nest on buildings as Peregrines do, and when they return from Africa next year will probably look for an old Carrion Crow's nest to reuse.

On the edge of the Serpentine, two Black-Headed Gulls were amusing themselves with fallen leaves, dropping them in the water and picking them up again.

It was the day for the monthly bird count, and I counted 45 Pochards on the Long Water. Here is one of them, looking very fine in the sunlight.

In a comment on yesterday's blog post, Amanda told me that the reason for almost all of them being male is that the sexes migrate at different times, and the drakes go first.

There are still only three Shovellers. Here is a female on the Long Water.


  1. hi ralph. another charming picture of a goldcrest. i'm glad to hear they are doing well & will check out those yew trees to try & get a peak. thanks.
    Mark W2

  2. Thanks. They're moving around quite a lot and could be anywhere. You have to listen to find them.

  3. Ralph, do you think some other bird had entered the tawny owl's nest hole and the owl was ambushing it? Jim n.L.

    1. No. The owl flew straight into the nest hole, no other bird came out, and I could hear nothing except the mobbing birds outside. The owl is fairly resistant to being screeched at, but there were a lot of them this time and I think it had had enough.

  4. Hi
    I'm in the city today
    Where's best to see each owl species?

  5. Tawny Owl: find the path that runs between the statue of Physical Energy and the obelisk that is a monument to the explorer Speke. Exactly half way along it is a bench, on the west side of the path. From here, walk west (slightly to the right of right angles to the path) for 50 yards, to a tall horse chestnut tree with its trunk broken off about three quarters of the way up. This is the nest tree. The male Tawny Owl likes to sit in the broken top of the trunk. Either owl or both may be round the far side of the trunk about 10 ft lower, sitting in the scar of a broken-off branch which provides a kind of balcony fo them.

    Little Owl: start at the leaf yard, the fenced enclosure with the statue of Peter Pan on its east side. At the southeast corner of this enclosure there is an old battered chestnut tree. Look for the next one, a few yards away to the southwest. Then look for the one after that, a slightly greater distance and up the hill a bit. It has brambles round its base. This is the Little Owls' nest tree. At the moment they are more likely to be in another chestnut tree adjacnt to this on the uphill side, and visible from the west side of this tree.