Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Common Tern which has been on the Round Pond moved down to the Italian Garden today. The algae have now been cleared from three of the ponds -- a long and messy job -- and the tern can see that they are full of small perch just the right size.

I was right about the Great Crested Grebe family near Peter Pan having chicks. They have three. The family made its first appearance near the Vista.

The older family had moved towards the bridge, probably after a territorial face-off.

The young grebe from the island was fishing in a desultory way along the south side of the Serpentine.

Near the landing stage, the Black Swan was staring fondly at the Mute cygnet, occasionally uttering little squeaks to encourage it.

The lone Mallard duckling was at Peter Pan with its mother. It is now large enough to have a good chance of survival.

The young Starlings are beginning to grow their adult plumage. This one has a small patch of iridescent feathers on its chest.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker perched on top of the Little Owls' chestnut tree near the leaf yard.

The male Little Owl was in it. He was visited for a few seconds by his mate, who is on the right of this fine picture taken by Tom. Although she is larger than him, she is sitting lower.

Near the Albert Memorial, one of the Little owlets stared down from a horse chestnut tree.

Its mother was in an oak, hard to see with the light behind her.

One more owl: the people at Bluebird Boats are using this plastic bird scarer to keep gulls off their boats. Its wings flap in the wind, giving it an appearance of life. It seems to be working for the time being, but it is already beginning to fall to pieces, and probably the gulls will discover the deception before it disintegrates.


  1. Absollutely beautiful grebelet photos Ralph. My Coot parents have raised seven chicks successfully; they are now starting again in the village pond with another brood of six. They really do like hard work!

    1. They are indeed indefatigable. So are Moorhens. Some of ours have had three broods this year.

  2. That picture of the common tern is amazing, what a great shot!
    With regards to the teenage mallards you mentioned a couple of posts back, I think I know them. A neighbour of mine has for three years running had a duck lay its eggs in her window box, and then abandon them. She raises the ducklings (6 of them) on her balcony and recently released them by the Peter Pan statue. My children enjoyed holding them when they were tiny and I have lots of pictures of them.
    This morning I spotted the black swan and the cygnet having a nap together on the east side of the Serpentine. The black swan showed his lovely ruffles when a dog came past but then went back to sleep. I took a photo but the light wasn't good.
    Also, I'm still to find an owl, but my niece says she saw one near the Albert Memorial. Is there a particularly good place to look for them?

    1. I couldn't find either the Albert Memorial owls or the ones at the leaf yard today. But I did find an owlet near the Henry Moore sculpture. Just for general information, I will repeat the standard directions for all three families.

      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.

      (Update: I think the owlets have now been kicked out, and may be anywhere.)

      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.

      (Update: the owlets are most likely to be found in oak and horse chestnut trees up to 200 yards southwest of here, to the east of the path that leads to Queen's Gate.)

      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.

      (Update: any of the family may be found in any of this group of tall lime trees, though they are hard to see in the thick leaves.)

    2. How detailed - thank you!