Wednesday 20 January 2016

No one expected to see the Little Owl today, but there he was on his usual chestnut tree.

He went into the hole in the tree from time to time, and may have been using this as winter quarters -- though I have heard the pair in the leaf yard at night.

There was more ice, and the Long Water was almost frozen over. The resident Mute Swans and a Great Crested Grebe seemed to be stranded in a hole in the ice under the fallen horse chestnut tree.

But swans are powerful enough to deal with that, and off they went like Russian icebreakers, incidentally leaving the grebe with much more space to fish in.

The north end of the Long Water never freezes completely, because there is an inflow of water from a borehole at the constant underground temperature of 10°C. The Little Grebes were here under the dead willow tree and the disapproving stare of a Coot.

Mallards are not very stable on ice, and were sliding around as they tried to walk.

A Stock Dove also had problems when it landed.

A Shoveller, in another hole in the ice at the Vista, was looking very fine in the low winter sunlight.

The people from Bluebird Boats were efficiently breaking the ice on the Serpentine. The Black Swan had plenty of space to swim in, and was stretching luxuriously.

Miranda was feeding a couple of hungry Ring-Necked Parakeets.

The Jackdaws are also as ravenous as ever. This one gave me an appealing look while I was photographing its beautiful iridescent plumage and it had to wait for a peanut.


  1. On the topic of finding out where the owls, could you play a recording and see if you get a response during the day, or would that be too disturbing?

    1. It isn't really ethical, but I've tried it in likely spots.

  2. Yesterday (20th) I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull land on ice across from the Peter Pan statue, and skid; and then behave intuitively exactly as humans do, moving body-mass elsewhere to limit gravity's ill effects. I felt a definite sense of kinship at seeing the exact somatic comparability; and felt a little guilty at witnessing an animal so normally effortlessly elegant being momentarily so inelegant.

    Harry G.

    1. They need to practise their 'zero-zero landings' -- a helicopter pilot's term for touching the ground at exactly the moment forward movement comes to a stop. All gulls can do this beautifully when landing on a post, but the ice looks easier and they don't bother.

  3. My, swans are not to be messed with in any situation. They really are powerful.
    What a gorgeous picture of the jackdaw. I can't understand why so many people don't see the loveliness of its colouring.
    "My" sparrows (that is, the ones I feed daily) are dreadfully ravenous, too. It's warmer than usual in this time of year - I had thought they would have a more comfortable time of it this year, but apparently food is as scarce as ever.

    1. How lucky you are to have sparrows. The only time I see them is when I cross the river. And even here their number are depleted.