Thursday 31 October 2013

The male Tawny Owl was in his favourite winter place, the notch in the broken top of the pair's nest tree.

He should be visible here often from November to the middle of March. Before his mate settles in to the serious task of nesting and rearing the owlets, which will begin in December, she should sometimes be visible beside him. They may also appear in the hole where a branch has broken off, a bit lower on the other side of the tree.

The Great Crested Grebes at the Serpentine Bridge were having no difficulty in finding fish for their three young; in fact, almost every dive brought a catch. But they were having a lot of trouble with raiding Black-Headed Gulls. Here mother and chick crash-dive in unison as a gull descends. At the bottom left of this picture you can see that she is still holding the fish.

She passed it to the young bird under water, and a few seconds later it surfaced, gulping, and the gull was foiled yet again. Grebes don't lose many fish to these raids, especially when they have gained a bit of experience in how to avoid the gulls.

Meanwhile, under the parapet of the Italian Garden, a young grebe was poking around alone in the reed bed and caught a sizeable fish.

There are still a lot of fallen branches lying around after the strong wind. One had fallen into the Serpentine, and a Moorhen was using it as a convenient perch for titivating its feathers.

A family of Goldfinches can sometimes be seen in the trees flanking the path between Peter Pan and the Italian Garden. Goldfinches are oddly rare in the park when you can see them in hundreds not far away. The nearest reliable place to find them is Molyneux Street, a small street on the east side of the Edgware Road a few hundred yards north of Marble Arch.

Goldfinches like perching high up. This is a street of small houses of c.1800, but just to the east of it there is a tall block of flats which lies between them and the television transmitter at Crystal Palace. So they have to have television aerials on tall masts to 'see' over the large building. Goldfinches find these irresistible, and the street is alive with their chatter.

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