Monday, 17 July 2017

It was another hot day, and a young Great Tit was panting to keep cool.

A young Starling settled on a bunch of ripening blackberries. It is beginning to grow its beautiful brocade adult feathers. The head is the last part to change.

A young Reed Warbler looked out of the reed bed near the Diana fountain.

The Little Owl at the leaf yard was hard to find, but eventually appeared at the top of her tree basking in the sunshine.

Paul was in Kensington Gardens at dusk yesterday, and reports hearing no fewer than three pairs of Tawny Owls -- one quite near the tree where they used to be, one over in the direction of Queen's Gate, and a third near Kensington Palace. The owl seen in Palace Gardens Terrace several months ago was probably one of this last pair. Paul also said that the Little Owls at the leaf yard were making a tremendous racket, so much so that there must have been more than two of them. Perhaps they really did have a family this year. I heard owlets calling in the tree on three days but nothing afterwards, and thought that they must have died, but it would be splendid to be wrong about that.

A Carrion Crow picked an unidentifiable pale larva out of the algae at the edge of the Serpentine. It seems to be an inexhaustible source of little wriggly creatures.

Several Mute Swans cropping algae off the edge of the Serpentine made a strange scissory sound.

Two female Red-Crested Pochards were also eating algae.

On one of the plant rafts at the east end of the Serpentine, a Greylag Goose was pulling the tough fibrous outside off a reed mace stem, and eating it with evident enjoyment.

The Black Swan was resting on the same raft.

The Mute Swan family on the Long Water have taken to using the nest in the reeds as a day bed.

The smallest Egyptian gosling was well camouflaged amid the debris at the edge of the Serpentine.

The Coots nesting on the post at Peter Pan have finally given up, after months of trying, and the nest is now a perch for a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

A male Emperor dragonfly was hunting over the water below the Italian Garden.

There were many Common Blue damselflies there, but this one was perching on a twig at the edge of the Serpentine.

On Saturday Tinúviel asked me whether I had ever seen a Magpie attracted to shiny metal objects, as they are supposed to be in folklore. I said I had never seen any corvid attracted in this way, though Coots love glittery silver things. But then this picture turned up.


  1. Oh, that is such a wonderful picture of a felonious crow! I've laughed myself silly.

    What a strange whirring sound does the Swan make when eating algae. At first I thought it was the camera, then that some electric object was buzzing in the vicinity. But no, it was the Swan.

    If I ever were to make a selection of pictures to make a postcard set, today's young Starling would be in it, no question about it.

    I understand that the very curious practice of Swan Upping took place in the Thames today. The swans in Kensington Gardens are not the property of the Queen, right?

    1. According to ancient custom, no more exercised, all swans are the property of the king or queen, except for some swans on the Thames which belong to two City livery companies, the Dyers and the Vintners. In the past, there were pinioned swans on the upper Thames which were caught and killed for banquets of the royal family or these companies. Swans had nicks cut on their bills to mark them as property of one or other of these companies. Today, however, swan upping is just a census, and the swans are ringed in the modern way.

  2. hi ralph.very amusing pic of the crow !!!. great news about the tawny owls ! when i adked you the other week had there been any sightings? i did actually mean since your last sighting/pic.. regarding the little owls, i was in the park very late one evening, and sat under a tree to hear about 8 individual little owls no more then 20feet away !!... an orchestra no less !!....

    1. Hearing owls is one thing, seeing them is another. As far as I know there have been no sightings of Tawny Owls since Paul got a brief glimpse on one flying over his head a few months ago.

  3. not really surprised to hear that..the outlines of the little owls were visible clearly that evening... i still am unable to play your vifs.msybe downloading google chrome might help?.

    1. Yes, it would. It has player software built in.

  4. STUNNING photo of the young Starling settled on a bunch of ripening would make a GREAT print!!!

    1. Sadly, it's not sharp enough to go any bigger than the 1000 x 750 pixel size shown here. It was a hasty shot and I was lucky to get it at all.