Tuesday 21 August 2018

The Little Owl in Hyde Park was in the oak tree for the third day running. He exchanged calls with his mate in a horse chestnut tree a few yards to the west, but she was impossible to see in the leaves.

The female Kestrel was flying over Buck Hill. She has favourite perches in the trees round the edge of the open grass where she can get a good view of the ground.

David Element got a dramatic shot of her hovering.

A Jackdaw skilfully opened a peanut on one of the urns in the Italian Garden.

The second young Grey Heron has still not dared to come down from the nest. It scratched its chin reflectively.

The first one is already at a heron's work, patiently waiting on the edge of the water for something edible to swim by.

The Greylag Goose which is probably a cross with a domestic goose is enormous, larger than the Canada Goose it is standing next to.

Another picture from David Element: a Great Crested Grebe chick doing a characteristic grebe stretch with neck arched back and wings raised.

When grebes preen, from time to time they make a distinctive shrug to settle their feathers. Jane Austen noticed a Little Grebe doing this. In her novel Persuasion, Charles says about Louisa, who is recovering from an injury and is very nervous, 'If one happens only to shut the door a little hard, she starts and wriggles like a young dab-chick in the water ...'.

One of the grebes from the east end of the island gave a fish to a chick. You can see from the position of the parent's legs that it has put the brakes on to avoid a head-on collision with the speeding chick.

The chicks at the other end of the island were waiting quietly in their usual feeding spot.

When chicks are small they are usually kept in the same place, which makes them easy to find. As they grow up, they start following their parents around to get the first chance of a fish.

The Coot chick that was washed over the weir is now large enough to stand on the brink without being swept away.

Another Coot family rested comfortably on the edge of the Serpentine, but the parent decided it was time to go, and the chicks obediently followed.

The duckweed in the Italian Garden ponds is so thick that it looks as if you could play snooker on it. Two young Moorhens stood on a duckboard which is supposed to make it easier for birds to get out, but idiotic humans keep throwing it into the water.


  1. Perhaps a sign would be needed to inform people what a duckboard is for? I don't know if I am sounding stupid. Were it not for your blog, I wouldn't know what its use was because I had never seen one. Maybe it's ignorance rather than malice on some people's part (I know this is perhaps my naiveté speaking).

    I am delighted to find Jane Austen mentioned Little Grebes! I didn't know they were also called Dabchicks. I see that "dab" is related to "deep", "to dive", and "to dip". In Spanish the Little Grebe is called zampullín, which is related to "zambullirse" (to dive). Funny how both languages thought alike!

    1. Sadly, throwing every loose object into water is a popular pastime of feckless youths. The lifebelts hung on posts around the lake are constantly thrown in, and their purpose is obvious enough.

      The instant dive is the most noticeable thing about dabchicks, and is referred to in other languages, for example Italian tuffetto, German Zwergtaucher and its Greek generic name Tachybaptus.

  2. I have enjoyed the kestrel photos, where is buck hill? I can't find it on a map of the park.

    1. It's between the Long Water and West Carriageway Drive. It's on this map:


  3. I wonder how many other works of literature feature grebes?