Sunday 5 October 2014

You can tell when it's a chilly day by looking at the Robins. When they are cold they fluff themselves up until they are practically spherical.

The male Tufted Ducks are coming out of their dull grey eclipse and regrowing their smart white sides, which make them look rather like warships of the Napoleonic era.

While I was photographing them at the Vista, two Mallard drakes chased each other through the group.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Long Water are now as large as their parents, but still relentlessly pursuing them, clamouring for food.

The familiar Carrion Crow family in Kensington Gardens chase me demanding food, sometimes for several hundred yards. They have got very spoilt by constant attention, but these charming birds are hard to resist. Here Melissa deals with a peanut on one of the posts at Peter Pan.

The male Little Owl was sunning himself on his nest tree.

No Tawny Owl appeared, although I visited their tree several times. But there was something happening there. A Starling was poking its head out of a hole in the trunk, staring fixedly upwards.

It was looking at a Ring-Necked Parakeet on a branch a couple of feet away.

This hole was a Starlings' nest hole for several years, but last year the Parakeets pushed them out and nested there themselves. Parakeets seem to maintain the claim on their nest holes even when they aren't using them, and I have often seen them going into the holes outside the nesting season. This Starling evidently felt the same and wanted its property back. After several minutes the Parakeet gave up and left. But it is bigger than the Starling and will probably win in the end.


  1. I've noticed this summer in the Hampstead Heath area, stock doves loitering around and even competing over nest holes in relatively exposed and well-walked positions where I did not notice them before. Even though they have long, perhaps always bred on the Heath. And now they are back 'out of sight' again. I'm wondering if this was 'displacement' by nesting jackdaws and rose ringed parakeets which I believe both began locally circa 2001, these now forming wheeling flocks. Jim n.L.

    1. In this tree the Stock Doves nest in the next hole above this, which is bigger. There has also been a Nuthatch nest right at the top, above the Tawny Owls, so it is a busy place. In a nearby plane tree in 2011 I saw, in the same hole on successive days, a Nuthatch, a Green Woodpecker, and a Ring-Necked Parakeet. In another plane tree I have seen a Green Woodpecker's hole taken by a parakeet. With so many trees in the park and so many holes, you wouldn't think there would be a need for competition, but evidently there is.