Tuesday 25 November 2014

The eight young Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond are now half grown and are losing their downy juvenile feathers and growing ginger adult ones.

They were having a peaceful time on a cold drizzly day with few irresponsible dog owners to menace them.

There are plenty of Pochards on the Round Pond, and also Red Crested Pochards. This picture shows the difference between drakes of each species.

Although both are diving ducks with bright chestnut heads and red eyes, their resemblance is superficial. Red Crested Pochards are considerably larger. They are also classed in a different genus, Netta rufina, while the (Common) Pochard is Aythya ferina.

This is a first-year Carrion Crow from the large colony of crows at the northwest corner of Kensington Gardens. Its wing feathers are severely bleached through lack of melanin, the result of bad diet while it was growing up. With the café at the Diana playground and the cheap restaurants of Queensway close at hand, and people dropping snacks all over the area, they have an unhealthy quantity of junk food.

But the crow will look better when it gets its first set of new feathers next year. They are less exposed to this trouble when they have stopped growing.

The male Little Owl came out for a while despite the chilly drizzle.

And the female Tawny Owl also emerged on to her sheltered branch. There were a couple of Magpies around, but not enough to bother her. There have to be at least four Magpies before they can work up the necessary mob hysteria. It was raining quite hard when I took this dim picture, and you can see the water running down the trunk of the beech tree.

In the rowan tree on Buck Hill, a Song Thrush was hanging upside down to reach some berries.

At Peter Pan, one of the two young Great Crested Grebes was staring idly at a couple of Moorhens.


  1. We didn't used to see the female Tawny quite so much previously, or is it that you didn't come across her often?

    1. It's the time of year. The two have been apart since they kicked out the young ones, and they are gradually getting together again before the nesting season begins. Hope to see them perched side by side soon.

  2. Hi Ralph, first of all I love your blog and it's made me realise how many birds can be seen in the parks. I don't get down to London very much but have a couple of meetings next month and I would love to pop into the park and see the owls if possible (I promise not to disturb them in any way). Could you give me clear instructions on where to go to see them please, all I know at the moment is that the tawny owl is in a beech tree but I'm sure there are lots of beech trees there!

    1. Tawny Owl: find the path that runs between the statue of Physical Energy and the obelisk that is a monument to the explorer Speke. Exactly half way along it is a bench, on the west side of the path. From here, walk west (slightly to the right of right angles to the path) for 50 yards, to a tall horse chestnut tree with its trunk broken off about three quarters of the way up. This is the nest tree. The male Tawny Owl likes to sit in the broken top of the trunk. Either owl or both may be round the far side of the trunk about 10 ft lower, sitting in the scar of a broken-off branch which provides a kind of balcony for them. The female owl also likes the beech tree a few feet away from the nest tree, and you can see her by standing under the nest tree and looking up at the beech. Her preferred perch is on a branch near the top of the tree, which from your viewpoint is directly in line from the trunk; she sits on a twig coming out of the right side of this branch.

      Little Owl: start at the leaf yard, the fenced enclosure with the statue of Peter Pan on its east side. At the southeast corner of this enclosure there is an old battered chestnut tree. Look for the next one, a few yards away to the southwest. Then look for the one after that, at a slightly greater distance and up the hill a bit. It has brambles round its base. This is the Little Owls' nest tree, and the male owl's favourite branch, when viewed from the north side, is at the top left corner of the tree. One or both of the Little Owls may also be high up inside another chestnut tree adjacent to this on the uphill side, and visible from the north or west side of this tree.

    2. Ralph, thank you very much for your clear and precise directions. Now all I need to do is to get out of my meeting early! Wish me luck, I will let you know how I get on. Sharon

    3. Good luck. Just going into the park now.