Sunday 15 January 2017

We may have a new Little Owl in Kensington Gardens, or at least we may have found one that was there already. This one was calling from a large oak tree with brambles round the base 100 yards southeast of the Italian Garden. It was small and seemed to be male.

It's possible that he's just the mate of the one in the lime tree near the Henry Moore sculpture, who was also out of her hole in spite of the drizzle.

But there was at least 300 yards between the two, which is a long way for a Little Owl to go from the nest hole.

The female owl near the Albert Memorial was also visible. She has the luxury of a sheltered hole which she can look out of comfortably without getting wet.

The rain had deterred people from coming into the park to feed the Rose-Ringed Parakeets, and instead of the usual Sunday crowd there were only two. That made the parakeets all the keener to be fed, and there were mobs of them in the trees at the corner of the leaf yard.

The male Coal Tit of the pair in the Rose Garden was singing in the intervals of coming down to the feeder. He caches most of the seeds he collects, but paused to eat one on a branch.

The local Robin was also coming to the feeder.

As anyone who feeds birds on their hand will have noticed, Robins don't have a strong grip, and it was having to flutter to stay on. The Coal Tit was nonchalantly perched with its vice-like grip, and a gale wouldn't have blown it off.

A small flock of Long-Tailed Tits was passing through the trees at the bottom of Buck Hill.

The white-faced Blackbird came out on a dead tree near the Italian Garden.

Rain is welcome to Blackbirds. This one at the side of the Dell was hauling worms out of the waterlogged ground every few seconds.

A Carrion Crow at the Dell restaurant was pleased to find that fish was on the menu.

On the restaurant roof, the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull and his mate were calling affectionately to each other.

These Mute Swans were also in the mood, though it has to be said that the female was under age.

The Pochard--Tufted Duck hybrid is still in the Italian Garden. She is as large as a Pochard and the same shape, though there is a hint of a tuft on her head. She is intermediate in colour between a greyish-brown female Pochard and a dark brown female Tufted Duck, and has slightly vermiculated plumage like a Pochard. Her eye colour is also intermediate between the brown of a female Pochard (only drakes have red eyes) and the yellow of a Tufted Duck, and is a kind of marmalade colour. The white patches at the base of her bill are larger than those of either parent. This led to her being mistaken for a female Scaup by several people. She also dives as busily as a Scaup and spends more time under water than on the surface.


  1. So does that make it four Little Owls? Great news!
    People are encouraged not to feed the feral monk parakeets here. They have become a serious nuisance to local birds.

    1. More than that. There are the leaf yard pair, the Albert Memorial pair and the Henry Moore pair. All these raised two owlets each last year, of which some will have survived. Add a pair seen in Hyde Park recently, and probably a pair seen near the Round Pond a couple of years ago. That's ten owls, not including their offspring. The population in the park is certainly increasing, but one can only guess at the total.

    2. Hi Ralph,
      Is it possible for you to post a picture of the nest trees from the path of the Little Owls at the Henry Moore and Albert Memorial please, as every time I visit (normally about once a month,) I'm never sure whether I'm looking at the right tree although I use your directions.
      Thank you!

    3. Thats amusing about the Monk parakeets in Spain.
      When we visited they were peacefully nibbling nuts in Madrid!
      Can they get as bad as the Rose-ringed Parakeets here?

    4. I'll do two maps. I've found that photographs don't work all that well as a guide.

    5. Yup. Their massive nests are a public hazard. They are stealing resources, food and nesting sites from local birds, and some of them (house sparrows) are feeling it very keenly. They get the better even of magpies.

  2. Ralph I visited yesterday afternoon. I'm not sure exactly which trees the L owls are in, but I heard one giving alarm call about 150m N of the Albert Memorial, at about 16.09.
    Would you allow me to accompany you on a park foray one day, if I buy you a coffee and make a donation to a wildlife charity of your choice? Quentin Given

    1. I'll be happy to show you round. Just put a comment on the most recent post on the blog the day before, and I can meet you at the south end of the Serpentine bridge at 10.30. No donation or even coffee required. But do put comments on the latest post. You've just commented on a post 11 months old.