Monday 18 December 2017

No fewer than five Little Owls could be seen enjoying the sunshine -- and that's only the ones I was able to find; heaven knows how many of these beautiful birds we have in the park. The pair near the Henry Moore sculpture were both in their lime tree ...

 ... and here is a video showing them together. Sorry it's a bit shaky -- it was shot handheld with an enormous amount of zoom.

Both the owls at the leaf yard were out in their separate trees, within calling distance of each other.

The female of the pair near the Albert Memorial was in her usual hole in the oak tree all day. This is an afternoon shot showing the sun coming in through the big crack in the top of the branch.

A Cormorant flapped frantically to dry its wings and to settle its feathers in a comfortable position.

A Grey Heron on the roof of one of the boathouses scratched itself for nearly a minute. It must have had a severe itch. Having feathers and being able to fly is a labour as well as a privilege.

There were two herons in the upper nest on the island, too hidden in twigs to make a proper photograph. There was also a pair in the fallen poplar tree on the east side of the Vista, and from the way they were moving around and pulling at twigs it looked as though they were thinking on nesting.

Just across the gap in the trees that gives the view from Kensington Palace, three baskets have been placed for their convenience in nesting (though one has recently fallen over sideways). The herons have completely failed to grasp the idea. However, Carrion Crows don't miss a trick, and a pair were investigating one of the baskets.

Herons start nesting very early, and take a long time to get going. But it's far too early for crows.

A Jay saw me coming and flew on to a conspicuous branch to remind me to feed it.

So did a Jackdaw, which perched on one of the urns in the Italian Garden.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits passed through the trees near the bridge.

As usual in these winter flocks, other small birds went along with them, including two Blue Tits and this Goldcrest, which was as happy to hang upside down as any of the tits.

The two Lesser Black-Backed Gulls are not the only hunters of Feral Pigeons beside the Serpentine. A sad drift of feathers at the Dell restaurant showed that a Sparrowhawk had taken one in the early morning.


  1. What a bonanza of Little Owls today! I particularly like how in the video the little owl's initially hazy gaze came into sharp focus as soon as it saw and recognized you.

    That's a satisfyingly good scratch the Heron had, I bet. When it came to partial grooming my beloved late canary bird would start by arranting his tail feathers, then his breast feathers, then he'd vibrate his wings for a handful of seconds, and he'd finish the whole business by having a good scratch like the Heron. I never knew why he did that, but apparently it felt good to him.

    1. I feel that you can't have too many Little Owls, though not all readers may agree.

  2. I went to St James’s Park today and there are still a large number of Black Swans there. I think that this number still includes the group from Hyde Park
    The Gadwalls were looking stunning in the winter sun

    1. There should be a total of eight Black Swans there unless some have left recently.

  3. Dear me, are they worried herons are going to die out or that there aren't enough in the park? When not pestering diners they're busy helping persecute the remaining fish, or attacking cute ducklings or our consuperordinals, ie rats and young rabbits. Jim

  4. People enjoy watching herons growing up. No other reason. But this talk of superorders is a bit mammalist.