Monday 6 May 2013

The male Little Owl was in his usual place, looking out over a dense crowd of people walking and running and playing football and shouting on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday.

He has almost recovered from the fear of humans that was driven into him last year when he was attacked by children. General noise and bustle doesn't bother him; in fact you can get closer to his tree amid the rumpus than you can early in the morning when you are the only moving object nearby, and visibly taking an interest in him. His mate stuck her head out of the hole for a few seconds before retreating inside. We hope she is looking after a brood of owlets.

The female Tawny Owl was again in the horse chestnut tree that has been her preferred daytime place for the past few days.

I couldn't find where the owlets were, and nor could any of the owl fans that I talked to. The male was last seen two days ago, in the California bay tree. It is beginning to look as if the family have decided to stay here rather than return to the area around their nest tree. There is more cover in the Flower Walk, and the park is so full of mice that it doesn't make much difference where they are.

I watched for the reported Spotted Flycatcher, without success. The area around the Long Water is alive with clouds of small insects, and should be ideal for a flycatcher to thake up residenc for the summer.

The Mute Swans nesting at the Italian Garden are still doing well, with five eggs. When the female is on her nest under the balustrade, well-intentioned visitors shower her with bits of bread, which she endures because at least they are edible. I arrived just as she needed to get off the nest to have a feed, She carefully pulled reeds over the eggs to hide them and help to keep them warm. Then she left her mate to stand guard over the nest went off for some nutritious algae, a bit of a preen, and an enjoyable attack on a Canada Goose that was minding its own business a discreet 100 yards away.

When she returned, she exchanged affectionate courtesies with her mate, then pushed him firmly off the nest, uncovered the eggs, and turned them to keep them evenly warm.

It must be rather uncomfortable being a baby bird in an egg: you keep getting turned upside down and sideways.

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