Sunday 26 January 2014

The Grey Herons' nest building on the Serpentine island continues. There were three birds at work, and their nests are getting quite large.

But frosty weather is forecast, and if it comes they may give up as they did last year after an initial frenzy of activity.

The Tawny Owls at least seem committed to their annual schedule. There was no sign of the female, but the male was standing guard in his usual place.

He was restless and kept glancing around, though as a mere human I couldn't see what had alerted him. Tawny Owls can see slightly better than us in low light, but their key sense is their amazing hearing, which allows them to pounce accurately on a mouse in pitch darkness just by listening to the faint rustle it makes moving through the grass.

The four Jackdaws were constantly flying around the area, though they seemed more interested in food than in mobbing the owl. Here is one of them in a rare moment of rest.

There is an exotic tree near Peter Pan bearing the label Ligustrum lucidum 'Excelsum Superbum', and a note of its origin, China. It is a kind of giant privet with variegated leaves. A small branch had fallen off it and someone had thrown this into the lake, where the young Mute Swan was finding it very palatable.

No other birds seemed interested in its tough evergreen leaves. Swans also eat willow leaves, and seem to be the only species that likes them.

The lone Shoveller drake on the Serpentine, who never joins his fellows, was quietly shovelling in the rain.


  1. Hello from California,
    I'm checking your wonderful blog in eager anticipation of my visit to London in May 2014. Thank you for the wonderful guided tour you gave me last year. I'm really hoping to see the Tawny Owls this year, so I'm watching for your news of their activities. This year, since I'm staying very near Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, I am hoping to photograph as many of the park birds as possible. I'll be sure and bring pine nuts for my favorite little birds. I'm planning on making an informative bird photo book of the park birds for my niece and nephew (ages almost 5 and almost 8). They are likely to visit London next year and visit the park birds. Also, I'm hoping to photograph and perhaps video the process of banding the gulls. Do you know anyone involved with banding? Keep up the great blogging. The photos and updates are great! Best from Johanna (Yohanna in the Dutch way) from California.

  2. It will be very good to see you in May, and I hope there will be plenty of activity in the park then. At the moment there is no one in the park ringing (as we call banding) gulls. My friend Roy Sanderson used to do this, but sadly he is in bad health now and can no longer visit. The nearest ringing operation is the one run by the North Thames Gull Group, who ring large numbers of gulls on waste tips to the east of London. They don't normally welcome spectators, but I think that if you approached them explaining that you want to make a video of their work, they would be happy to agree.