Wednesday 29 June 2016

Yesterday Fran was walking past the oak tree near the Albert Memorial where the Little Owls nested. She saw two faces peering out of the hole, and took this picture.

But she had the short lens on her camera, and by the time she had switched over they had vanished back into the tree.

This morning I went past with a long lens, and amazingly there were again two owl faces in the hole. And they weren't the adults we have seen here before, they were owlets. It was a dull grey day, but I got a photograph.

In the chestnut trees near the leaf yard, only the male Little Owl was visible.

In this picture he looks as big and round as his mate, but that is because he was fluffed up on a chilly damp morning. You can tell him from the female by the larger area of pale feathers at the inner edges of his eyebrows. (This is not the sign of a male owl, it's just a difference between individuals.)

A Great Black-Backed Gull visited the Long Water and stood on the posts at Peter Pan, dwarfing a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Back.

The Coots nesting under the Bluebird Boats platform have managed to keep three chicks from the gulls.

One of the young Moorhens at the east end of the Serpentine had stopped begging for food from its parents and wandered off to forage in the debris under the entrance ramp to the restaurant.

The food requirements of a Moorhen are pretty simple: just about anything that has the slightest nutritional value. By its own standards it was doing well.

I couldn't find any Mandarin ducklings. But the teenager from the earlier brood was on the Long Water. Here it is on a post at the Vista. It can now fly well, and I found it again later on the other side of the lake by the Henry Moore sculpture.

Although the Mallard drakes are going into eclipse, they are as lustful as ever. One was chasing a female over Buck Hill. She dived and fell back out of his field of view and landed in a tree while he charged on. She stood there looking rather pleased with herself.

The Black Swan saw me, came over, and called loudly for a biscuit.

He knows I walk round the lake, and intercepted me on the other side for a second biscuit.

There was a great mob of Greylag Geese with goslings on the south side of the lake.

The number of young geese of all species is now over 35.

There haven't been many sightings of Grey Wagtails recently, but Tom found one yesterday. It's a young one, with only a hint of adult bright yellow under its tail.

A Magpie near the bridge was rummaging through a pile of lawn mowings looking for insects and worms.


  1. The Black Swan is starting to display tactical intelligence, what with his psychological warfare on mute swans and his ability to predict your movements. Next step, world domination. I for one will welcome our new Swan Overlord.

    Owlets are so endearingly funny. They never fail to make me smile.

    1. Perhaps I could hope for an appointment to Master of the King's Biscuits.

    2. Or Lord Digestive by the sounds of it?

    3. It has a certain ring to it: Baron Digestive of McVitie and Price.

    4. Well, the late Martin West used to be Lord Mallard, after all... perhaps His Ruffled Highness may think it appropriate to appoint Ralph to a Royal Warrant.

  2. well that conversation has brightened up my evening. as always thanks Ralph et al for the HP&KGs soap opera. WONDERFUL!
    Mark W2

    1. Thank you for your kind words. The comments are becoming something in their own right.

  3. Another lovely post. Great pictures of the owlets.

    I have yet to see the black swan, and I don't know which is the Dell restaurant you often refer to. Can you point me in the right direction please?

  4. Thanks. It's the restaurant at the east end of the Serpentine. Now renamed Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, but no one calls it that.