Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The famous Little Owl at the leaf yard was having his portrait painted by Gary McGuire.

He was quite relaxed about being stared at, and stayed out in front of the hole.

The Little Owls at the Albert Memorial seem to have moved from their original hole, where they haven't been seen for several weeks. I heard one calling from an oak tree 15 yards west of the old tree, but couldn't see it. There are several oak trees here, many of which have suitable nest holes. It would be a good thing if they moved (apart from the trouble we will have in finding them again) because their old branch is very rotten and likely to fall or be sawn off.

Two pairs of Great Crested Grebes are building nests in the fallen poplar tree at the Vista. It's a big tree and they are 20 feet apart, but that's a bit too close for their comfort. This is the nest at the north side of the tree ...

... and this is the one at the south side.

The grebe family from the island were in the middle of the Serpentine. One of the three chicks stuck its little stripy head out from the parent's feathers.

There are two broods of Mallards now, each currently with three ducklings. This is the one from the bridge ...

... and this one was near the Lido.

The resident Mistle Thrushes are doing well, and I saw four families: the usual one near the Serpentine Gallery, the one east of the Dell, a new one between the Albert Memorial and Palace Gate, and another new one near the Henry Moore sculpture -- this is one of their young on the fence below the sculpture.

A Blue Tit brought a caterpillar to a nest at the bottom of the Dell. It's one of those nests in a lamp post that the park Blue Tits specialise in. The number on the post is 96.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits were bouncing around in a tree near the bridge, calling to each other.

A Pied Wagtail was hunting on one of the rafts at the east end of the Serpentine.

A Reed Warbler was singing in the nearby reed bed. This is quite a long way from the path, and the bird feels confident enough here to come up on a stem to sing.

There were more Reed Warblers in the reed bed below the Diana fountain and just the other side of the bridge.

Also at the east end of the lake, a female Magpie was with her mate, fluttering her wings and calling to him.

This pair of Greylag Geese near the Dell restaurant were entwining their necks and going in circles. At first I thought they were wrestling, but it seems to be a courtship ritual. Afterwards they did the usual head-dipping display.

A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee was busy on a flower in the Dell.


  1. Oh, that picture of the stripey head popping out! Enough to melt anyone's heart.

    That is a great portrait of the Little Owl. No wonder that it stood still to have it taken: it must have been very happy with the painter's skill!

    1. Wonder whether an owl can recognise a picture as an image of a real thing. I seem to remember reading about experiments with pigeons which showed that they could.

    2. There might be something to it. I remember there is a bunch of ancient anecdotes about different animals reacting to paintings and statues by famous Greek artists as if the paintings were actual animals, not images.

    3. Zeuxis of Herakleia was said to have painted grapes so realistically, birds would fly down and peck at them. Jim

  2. Glad the Reed Warblers are back.
    Feels like forever without them, Swifts and Swallows in the winter!

    1. Surprising how well the Reed Warblers do in the very small reed beds on the lake.