Thursday 24 October 2013

A vain search for the Tawny Owls turned up several other birds. There are many old trees with rough bark in the area, providing a home for many small insects, so it is the best place in the park to see a Treecreeper ...

... and a Nuthatch.

It would be pleasing to find them on the same tree, the Nuthatch going down the trunk and the Treecreeper climbing up, as they generally do, and photograph them passing each other.

The Little Owl was also visible in the usual chestnut tree, but giving me an unusually wide-eyed look that shows off his beautiful yellow irises.

While I was going over to the tree, a Sparrowhawk passed overhead.

There is a pair that habitually hunt in Kensington Gardens and are probably responsible for most of the little heaps of grey feathers which show that a Feral Pigeon has met its end. I think there is also a second pair in Hyde Park, though it is impossible to be sure that it isn't the same pair as these. Two years ago I saw a Sparrowhawk family -- two adults and two young -- over the Long Water, but only once, so I don't think they were residents.

The young Great Crested Grebes are now diving beside their parents, and staying down for quite a long time. It is not clear whether they are actually helping their parents to fish, or just following them out of curiosity and hunger. It is, anyway, always the parent that comes up with the fish and gives it to the young one.

A difficult moment is coming when when the young have been chased away and left to fend for themselves, when they can catch fish but have to expend much more labour on it than an experienced adult. I once saw a young grebe doing quite well, as I thought, working over a well stocked patch of water and catching a small fish every two minutes. Then its mother came over and caught ten fish inside a minute in the same place.

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