Tuesday 17 April 2012

A parakeet became an owlets' breakfast today, and there was a sad remnant with a few green feathers under the nest tree. All the owlets were there, hopping and flying about restlessly, so that their parents had both taken refuge in the horse chestnut trees in front of the nest tree. This is the first day that their mother has not been in the tree with the owlets. They are growing up.

Someone saw the male Little Owl yesterday, but as soon as he noticed that he was being looked at, he rushed into a hole. This bird has learnt his lesson about humans.

For the past few days there has often been a Green Woodpecker foraging in the grass between the Queen's Temple and the bridge. Their harsh green colour is surprisingly visible against the grass, though of course the red head also helps with spotting them.

A pair of Little Grebes were noisily calling to each other while fishing under the balustrade of the Italian Gardens. This is a good spot for small fish, as the air bubblers that are supposed to oxygenate the water bring up sediment, which attracts small creatures and the birds that feed on them. In winter the bubblers are popular with Shovelers, but these have all left now.

Several families of Long-Tailed Tits were taking their new broods around to feed them. Here is a young one waiting to be brought an insect.


  1. Dear Mr Hancock,

    Thank you very much for your sharing and the map you drew for the green woodpecker. I went there at once after the chat it did take me a little while to find that neat hole in the tree! I saw the bird was constantly throwing wood bit out of the hole I think he (or she?) wants to enlarge the hole and make room for his chicks?

    Peter Tang (17th April)

    1. Yes, I've seen a Green Woodpecker throwing stuff out of a hole. In that case the hole had been started by a Nuthatch, which brought in nesting material to make the place comfortable. The woodpecker, a larger bird, needed more room and threw it all out again. Not sure whether what is happening here is similar.

  2. What an adorable baby long-tailed tit. You are a genius with your camera. I have never seen one before. However did the owls catch a parkeet? Is that the work of the parents? Would it have been a juvenile? It seems rather a large bird and awkwardly shaped to catch and eat. But I find it very intersting that this fast-multiplying breed does have its preditors in its new habitat.

    1. It would be the parent that has caught the parakeet; the owlets are not hunting yet. Parakeets travel rapidly in straight lines, so their movement is predictable, and there are lots of them near the owls' trees. You would just wait for one to pass below you at a convenient distance, and drop on it.

      By the way, young long-tailed tits are much easier to photograph than adults, since they stay in the same place waiting for food until either fed or called to the next tree.