Tuesday 30 October 2018

A welcome return: the Little Owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial was back in her hole. I haven't seen her since the beginning of April.

The hole had been blocked with leaves, probably by a squirrel, and she has thrown them out. But I don't know whether she's going to be able to hold her own against a much larger creature.

The female Kestrel returned to Buck Hill, where she perched in one of the rowan trees.

Later I met Hugh Smith, the Wildlife Officer, who told me that he had seen a male Kestrel hunting on the central island of Marble Arch, only a few feet from the passing buses.

You don't often see a Carrion Crow going head to head with a Herring Gull and winning, so it's worth three pictures. The Herring Gull had a piece of pancake ...

... but it was too big to swallow in one go, so it had to be put down. The crow saw its chance, edged in warily ...

... and made off with most of it.

A pair of Lesser Black-Backed Gulls mirrored each other's movements and called to each other.

More Common Gulls have arrived on the Serpentine, though as usual most of them prefer the Round Pond. This one walked along the line of buoys at the Lido to inspect the orange corner marker.

Two Grey Herons on the island were being unusually civil to each other, so they must be a pair, probably the parents of this year's two young.

The Black Swan came under the bridge on to the Long Water ...

... but saw the dominant male Mute Swan at the Vista and prudently backed off. She has a history with this huge and violent bird.

Skirting the dominant swan at the west end of the Serpentine, who was busy persecuting a subordinate ...

... she came into the edge among a crowd of Coots and relieved the tension by flapping her wings. She uttered a melodious cry, which is something that Mute Swans can't do.

A Great Crested Grebe in plain winter plumage fished under the bridge.

There were several Pied Wagtails hunting on the edge of the Serpentine.

Tom shot this interesting slow-motion video of Rose-Ringed Parakeets coming to feed off his hand.

One of the Nuthatches lurked in the bushes at the leaf yard waiting for me to put some food on the fence.

Mike Meilack took this picture of a rat which had managed to squeeze between the bars of the feeder in the Rose Garden.

But today the birds had worse to contend with than honest rats. Some evil human had stolen the feeder yet again. I am filling in for Rani, who usually runs the Rose Garden feeders, so it's up to me to buy a new one, which I will chain to the tree with a padlock and protect with strong curses.

These little mushrooms on the Vista look like Fairy Ring mushrooms, with the typical arrangement of alternate long and short gills. But the caps are flat, and some of them have bent upwards in an odd way, so maybe they are something else.


  1. Sometimes I wish that we still lived in pagan Rome and had the means to utter binding curses the nether gods were obliged to fulfill. What better targets that those morally stunted, rotten thieves.

    In happier news, yay for the most welcome return of the Little Owl! We have missed her lovely face.

    Hearing the Black Swan always makes me happy. She truly could sing if she wanted to. I wonder what the first Europeans that saw an Australian black swan thought: here is a black swan that can sing!

    How old is the dominant Mute Swan? Has he ever attacked a human being? I don't think the legendary Mr Asbo was half as huge as he is.

    1. I was seriously thinking of making a lead curse tablet and hanging it on the tree. I have a bit of roofing lead just the right size.

      The male swan first came to notice about ten years ago, but he must have been working his way up the pecking order before then. He is on his second mate after losing the first to a fox when they nested on the shore, before the little artificial island was made. He has never attacked a human, as they run away. Having been badly injured by a dog bite, he attacks dogs with such promptitude and severity that they flee too.

  2. Oh dear, I hope the Black Swan doesn’t mess with the dominant bird. I remember what happened before.