Friday 20 April 2012

It seems very probable that the Tawny Owls have a fifth owlet. After all four of the usual bunch were found, with difficulty, in one of the horse chestnut trees in front of the nest tree, there was a fluffy grey bundle in the nest tree itself. The bird was facing away, and you could see that it was still completely grey, unlike the older owlets who are rapidly getting their brown feathers and losing their down. No picture was possible, as the weather was ugly around midday with thunder and hail and sheeting rain.

It is not at all clear how this happened. As soon as the first four owlets came out, their mother took them 200 yards away to an oak tree near the Albert Memorial, and their father remained on or near the nest tree. Of course the owlets had been in the nest for some time, growing their flight feathers, before they were allowed out, and there was plenty of time for a late egg to hatch. But the last owlet must have remained in the nest while the mother and the other four were away. Could the father have remained where he was so that he could bring food to it?

A pair of Kestrels flew over the Long Water just before 2 pm. Neither of them was the male bird who was here for several days a few weeks ago, pictured here. This one had a primary missing from his right wing, which made him easy to identify.

The pair of Gadwall who have been on the lake are as tame as the resident Mallards. They will come on shore to be fed.

For some days a Pied Wagtail has been frequenting the patch of lawn at the back of the loggia of the Italian Garden. Here it is on one of the old tunnels where the Westbourne used to flow into the lake. Although these birds are common enough in the park, you usually see them on the edge of the Serpentine or, for no known reason, in the south part of the Parade Ground.


  1. I am worried about the fifth owlet. Do Tawney owlets eat their smaller siblings like Barn owls do?

    1. Looks as if the answer is no. If this really is a fifth owlet, it's been nurtured on its own and is now ready to fly and join the others. From our point of view, though not the owls', the trouble is that the whole family is about to disappear into the foliage and we shall never know what happens. But good luck to them all.

  2. I was very excited to hear about your sighting of a possible fifth tawny owlet as i also noticed a single owlet alone in the nest tree yesterday lunchtime.

    Unfortunately, when i went back to re-count the others (in the middle horse chestunt tree) i could only be sure of three. They were very high up, partially obscured by leaves and two (maybe three from what you say) were huddled very close together. I understand from others that there had definitely been four in the group moments earlier,just before i had turned up and noticed the solitary owlet. Being a natural pessimist i didnt dare hope for a fifth baby and had concluded one must have flown back to the nest tree.

    I was horrified to learn that the male Little Owl was being persecuted by children so I was delighted when he was kindly pointed out to me in his favourite sweet chestnut. He flew off after a couple of minutes.