Tuesday 5 April 2016

The Egyptian Geese on the Round Pond have managed to keep their five young for another day, quite an achievement in the face of the numerous Herring Gulls.

By the way, the Herring Gull with a ring that I photographed yesterday was ringed in Basildon in Essex, which is not exactly exotic. But it does show that gulls from the mud flats of the Thames estuary are coming into London for easy pickings, and joining the locally hatched ones as Herring Gulls acquire the habit of nesting on city roofs.

One of the Little Owls at the Albert Memorial came out of the hole and perched in several places on the oak tree.

I think this is the male of the pair, but it can be hard to tell when you can't see them together. Males are smaller than females, and tend to look slimmer and more angular, but then they fluff up their feathers when cold or angry, and completely change shape.

A Mallard drake was quacking on top of a nearby tree, in the same way as Egyptian Geese do. It is possible that his mate is nesting in this tree, which is mostly dead and gives easy access to a duck that can't climb as well as a Mandarin.

The white Mallard came ashore beside one of the small boathouses, looking poised and elegant.

The twigs in the background are a Mute Swan's preliminary attempt at nesting. I have not yet managed to catch them on the nest, but they were in the water nearby.

The Black Swan was with his girlfriend on the north side of the Serpentine, where they had spotted someone with a bag of bread.

One of the Pochard--Tufted Duck hybrids was diving near Peter Pan.

Both these hybrid ducks spend a great deal of time under water, more than Pochards or Tufted Ducks, and in this way are similar to the Scaups that they are often mistaken for.

A pair of Jackdaws were sitting in a tree on Buck Hill.

Just after I took this picture, the one on the right jumped at the other and knocked it out of the tree, and they flew away together. I think this was a bit of affectionate horseplay between mates.

A pair of Long-Tailed Tits were flitting around together near the Lido.

Although it was a warm day and insects were plentiful, a lot of small birds came out of the leaf yard to be fed. Putting some seeds on a tree stump produced a portrait of a Blue Tit ...

... and a Robin ...

... while a Coal Tit perched in a yew tree above waiting for its turn.


  1. Very sorry to repeat the same questions, but please can you remind me of the post with directions to find all the Little Owl's?

    1. Little Owls 1
      The pair are in a tree near the leaf yard, which is the railed enclosure that has the Peter Pan statue on the east side. The tree is an old, very broken sweet chestnut 50 yards from the middle of the south side of the yard, and it has brambles around its base. View it from the west side. On the left of the trunk, the second thick branch from the bottom has two horizontal slits in it next to the trunk. The upper one is the entrance to the owls' hole.

      Little Owls 2
      From the Albert Memorial, walk north towards the statue of Physical Energy. When the path intersects the bicycle track, turn left and walk along the track for 50 yards, to the next path that crosses it. Right on the near left corner of the crossing is a big oak tree. Look left for a nearby plane tree. Between these two trees is another oak tree, and the owls' hole is in this. Stand under the plane tree and look at this oak. The hole is in a big branch sticking out the right hand side a little above horizontally -- a large round hole in a large round bulge in the branch.

      Little Owls 3
      You will need binoculars. Go to the southeast corner of the square enclosure around the sculpture -- that is, the corner on the path nearest to the bridge. Look up the hill to the old brick buildings on the left of the Magazine. One of them has a chimney. The Little Owls' tree is directly in front of that, and the hole is in the left fork of this Y-shaped tree. It's maybe 60 yards up the hill from the path. Don't step off the path when looking: any movement towards the owl makes it dive into its hole.

    2. I have been in the UK two years and am yet to see a wild owl despite many attempts (living in London is obviously not the most amenable path to finding owls) but having just discovered your blog I am encouraged that finally it might happen! Will give it a go tomorrow afternoon and hope I have better luck than previous endeavours... Apart from the third pair, will I be OK without a pair of bins?