Friday, 9 February 2018

This is not a good picture of the female Little Owl near the Albert Memorial, taken as the light of a dim day was fading, but I am surprised and grateful to have got it at all.

As I came into the park this morning, I was horrified to see the oak tree roped off and a man up on a cherry picker sawing branches off it. I thought this would scare the owls away permanently and I might never find them again. But when I went past the tree four hours later, the indomitable bird was there, sitting in her hole as if nothing had happened.

In fact it was a good day for Little Owls. The female near the Henry Moore sculpture flew out of a tree near the path, and perched on the edge of her hole.

The male owl at the leaf yard had been out earlier, but all I could see when I went past was his face peering out of the hole in the chestnut tree.

A Carrion Crow at the Dell restaurant was carrying a feather. Are they starting to build nests already?

Another was tearing up an empty plastic bag. But maybe it was just amusing itself.

A Redwing on the Parade Ground pulled up a worm.

There was a single Mistle Thrush with the flock.

A Wren came out under a bush near the bridge.

A first visit to the Rose Garden since I was injured didn't find much, but so far the feeders haven't been stolen again. The usual Robin was in possession of the bush where they hang, and when another Robin approached there was a brief fight on the path before the intruder fled.

A Blue Tit watched from a rose bush.

A few bits of bread thrown in the lake by a visitor brought all the gulls in the area together in a feeding frenzy. These are mostly Black-Headed Gulls and immature Herring Gulls. The large proportion of young Herring Gulls is due to a breeding colony in nearby Paddington.

Two young ones and an adult perched at the far end of the rail on the Lido jetty, behind a long line of Black-Headed Gulls. The adult Herring Gull is already in summer plumage with a pure white head, but the most of Black-Headed Gulls have only just started getting their dark head feathers.

The male Great Crested Grebe at the island was guarding his nest against invading Coots. The Moorhen in the background is not a threat.

A Coot on the Long Water had a preen and a scratch. My Finnish friends tell me that their nickname for this rotund black bird is keilapallo, 'bowling ball'.

A young Mute Swan objected to a Grey Heron standing on the edge of the Serpentine. The heron was waiting to be fed, and didn't budge.


  1. Well what a great surprise!!!!!
    I saw the "tree surgeons" trimming our little owl tree near the Albert early morning and they promised me faithfully not to touch the owls branch..... for once they obviously listened!!!
    How fab to see them return un fluffed about the disturbance:)

    1. At least three people came to them and warned them about the owls, so eventually the message must have sunk in.

  2. Whew, when I began reading I started having heart palpitations. Thank God everything returned to normal and the Little Owl carried on unperturbed (would it be offensive to say that the Owl engaged in the quintessentially English tradition of "keeping calm and carrying on"?).

    Indeed, 'keilapallo' may be the most pertinent description of a Coot to date.

    I think we now have proof that the Little Owls at the park go out of their holes when they see Ralph. I think they mean to greet him in their owly way.

    1. I don't kid myself that the owls are pleased to see me. But at least I seem to have become a familiar object and no longer worry them.

  3. On another note, I revisited Ralph's viral video about Pigeon Killer and was extremely pleased to see how many comments it got. I second all who praise Ralph's soothing, cultured voice. His narration is a delight to hear. What prompted me to revisit it was this video about a Gull in Scotland hunting bats:

    1. Remarkable video. The bats seem to be coming out through a gap in the tiles.

  4. glad you are back on your rounds again Ralph. your ankle must be healing quite well i hope? everytime i hear a 'tree surgeon' my heart stops too. what now??? sometimes it's necessasry. mostly its vandalsim.

    1. I do wonder about these people's choice of trees. Many of the trees seem perfectly healthy, as you can see from the cut surfaces of the wood.