Friday 1 November 2013

Both Tawny Owls could be seen on this dim and drizzly day in the lime tree 20 yards to the south of their nest tree. It still has most of its leaves, and would have provided better shelter from the rain than the nest tree itself. This is the male owl.

The female was on the same branch a few feet away, but mostly hidden in the leaves. She is more restless by day than her mate, and when we came back again a couple of hours later she had moved and completely vanished into the foliage. He was still dozing peacefully in exactly the same place.

There was no sign of the Little Owls, who were probably inside their chestnut tree. These Mediterranean birds don't like the English cold and damp, and mostly come out of shelter when the sun is shining. They have only been in Britain for a couple of centuries, having originally been imported to catch beetles, cockroaches and other small pests.

Four Cormorants were cruising idly around the Serpentine bridge, barely bothering to dive.

The fish are so numerous and easy to catch here that possibly even these ravenous birds had eaten their fill. They were not bothering to chase off the pair of Great Crested Grebes who were hard at work feeding their three chicks.

On the shore of the Serpentine a Black-Headed Gull had picked up something it didn't consider edible, and spat it out.

It looks like a seed from one of the the dry black alder fruits lying on the shore. There are not many things that gulls won't eat, but I have noticed that they won't take peanuts.

A Mallard having a good flap at the Serpentine displays the fine iridescent blue secondaries -- the feathers attached to the ulna and radius joint of its wing, corresponding to our forearm -- that form the conspicuous blue 'speculum' that can be seen when its wings are folded.

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