Friday 10 January 2014

Peanuts in the shell are a popular food with Carrion Crows and Jays, and with Ring-Necked Parakeets, all of which enjoy opening the shell and getting the contents out. But until today I had never seen a gull eating one. However, when I threw a peanut to a crow on the edge of the Serpentine, a young Herring Gull flew in and stole it, and managed to crack it open with its powerful beak. No sooner did this happen but a second Herring Gull took another nut. You can see that it is crushing the shell by brute force, not opening it by pecking.

A Black-Headed Gull was enjoying a more traditional meal, a dead mirror carp that had washed up on the edge of the Serpentine.

Perhaps misled by the recent mild weather, the Mute Swans on the Serpentine have started courting.

I went to photograph the male Tawny Owl and found him in his usual place and took the usual photograph. However, when I was going home much later, I met someone who said that both of the owls were out on the balcony -- to my surprise, as I was sure that the female was on her nest now. So I hastened up in the gathering darkness and managed to get this shot. They were both looking around, preparing to go hunting.

It is not a good picture, taken in drizzle with a rain-spattered lens at 3.12 pm, one minute before sunset, with an exposure of ¹⁄₁₅ second at f2.8 and a teleconverter giving 40.8x zoom, hand-held, all factors that militate against clarity. Rather surprised I got it at all.

Two of the Jackdaws were wandering around near the owls' tree looking for worms.

And a Wren was poking around under the plants in the Flower Walk.


  1. Congratulations on getting the owls together on their 'balcony'. If you hadn't apologised so profusely, no one would have known that the conditions under which you took this photo were so adverse. And thank you for the Wren. It seems like a long time since you gave a us such a good study of this delightful bird. Perhaps this is all part of a movement towards higher quality photos now that you have your better camera and are gragually discovering how to make more use of its functions?

    1. Wrens are almost always under something or behind something, and when briefly in the open are hard to approach. They also rarely stop moving. To get any shot of one is a matter of pure luck.