Monday 9 December 2013

A Green Woodpecker perched on a tree in the leaf yard, unusually close and visible for such a shy bird. But birds rightly feel safer on the far side of spiked railings that wingless humans can't get over.

There was also a Jay whose expression matched its Groucho Marx moustache.

It was waiting for someone to put a peanut on top of the fence for it, hence the intent stare.

There is still a lot of activity around the rowan trees at the top of Buck Hill, whose bumper crop of berries should last for some weeks yet. Here one of a pair of Mistle Thrushes waits in an adjacent tree until the Starlings have gone away.

There was a Song Thrush singing in a nearby tree. Both kinds of thrush can be stimulated into singing on a sunny winter day, but even allowing for this there has been a lot of song lately, perhaps due to the mild weather. A few bushes are mistakenly beginning to blossom. The proper winter is yet to come.

An Egyptian Goose was washing itself vigorously in the Serpentine.

The female Tawny Owl was on her usual balcony in the nest tree. I didn't see her mate.

I was reading Heimo Mikkola's Owls of Europe, in which he said that usually Tawny Owls start breeding in mid-March, but that owls in urban parks nested earlier because of the higher temperatures in cities, and did so in February. Allowing for a typical 30 days for laying and incubating the eggs, and another 32 for the young to grow enough to be able to leave the nest, our owls start laying in early to mid-January, since the owlets appear at a time between the beginning and the middle of March. London is about 2°C warmer than the surrounding countryside, an exceptionally wide margin which may account for this very early timing.

Harrods have got the right idea for their Christmas decorations. There is a whole window of owls.


  1. Hello Mr. Hancock!

    You showed me and my mum the location of the Tawny Owls in the chestnut tree on Saturday.
    We went and visited the owls today, we saw the female peering down at us. It was a real pleasure. Thank you.

    Warm regards.

    1. Very glad you found her. I'll keep writing about the owls, though of course any information here will be a day out of date and there is no certainty that an owl will be visible when you go.