Friday, 14 November 2014

The male Little Owl spent most of the day on his favourite branch, enjoying the sunshine and the mild temperature.

Little Owls are from southern Europe and must find the English climate rather trying. They were deliberately introduced to Britain in 1842 by Thomas Powys as a means of keeping down insects and other invertebrate pests. Before that they were occasionally seen; Thomas Bewick's British Birds (1797) says that there were populations in Yorkshire, Flintshire and the London region, three very widely separated areas.

The female was in the adjacent tree and stared suspiciously at me over her shoulder before flying to another branch. But when I passed by later she was still there. (By the way, she is exactly the same colour as her mate, and the difference in these pictures is entirely due to the lighting.)

The male Tawny Owl was in his favourite place in the top of the nest tree until late morning. Just as I arrived he was mobbed by Magpies and Jays and retreated into his hole before I could get a picture. I came past later in mid-afternoon and found the female in her usual place on the beech tree. Again, as I arrived the Magpies and Jays closed in and she flew into the nest hole as well. This picture shows her opening her huge dark eyes fully a moment before launching herself off the branch.

A big flock of Long-Tailed Tits was passing through the poplar trees on the west side of the Long Water between the bridge and the Vista.

This Carrion Crow had hauled a Prêt à Manger bag out of a bin beside the Serpentine and was investigating it to see if indeed there was anything ready to eat in it. There were a few crumbs from a sandwich to reward its efforts.

The Little Grebe was working its way along the edge of the Serpentine at the Lido restaurant, only a yard from the shore and the people sitting at tables. They are usually very shy, but this one was quite unconcerned.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes were crossing the Long Water at sunset, on their way to their evening entertainment of quarrelling with the grebes next door.

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