Wednesday 19 December 2018

The female Little Owl at the Queen's Temple was minding her own business in the hole in the horse chestnut tree ...

... when a squirrel came along the branch.

She gave it a terrible yellow-eyed stare, and it retreated.

Finally, some video of one of the Nuthatches in the leaf yard coming several times to take food from my hand.

The usual Blue Tits and Great Tits were coming too, and pecked delicately at their pine nuts.

Paul found a rowan tree on Buck Hill separate from the main group, and still with plenty of fruit. It was  being visited by Blackbirds ...

... while three Redwings waited on the tree next to it.

There was a Great Spotted Woodepecker in the other side of this tree.

A Jay in the rowan was more interested in being given a peanut than in the fruit, though they do eat it sometimes.

A Carrion Crow tore up a plastic bread bag to see if there were any crumbs in it.

There was one Peregrine on the barracks tower.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes courted and danced, though rather briefly, at the island. This is the pair from the west end of the island, which nest behind the floating wire baskets.

Cormorants dried their wings and preened on the fallen horse chestnut tree in the Long Water.

Greylag Geese which had been feeding near the wall of the Winter Wasteland came down to the horse ride to drink from puddles.

A pair of Gadwalls cruised along the edge of the Serpentine.

Again there was a lot of activity from the three pairs of Grey Herons. One in the top nest was annoyed by another landing in the next tree.

Others were across the lake gathering willow twigs, which are fairly soft and easy to bite through.


  1. As I was walking along the shore near the Triangle car park some time go this remarkable series of events unfolded:

    A feral pigeon was strutting around looking for food when suddenly it was attacked by a loitering crow, its powerful beak hammering into the pigeon. The pigeon managed to escape and flopped down thirty yards away on the road where it was immediately set upon by more crows. It took off, they followed, it wheeled round over the Serpentine with the crows still in pursuit and then it flopped into the water half way to the Lido. The crows returned to dry land.

    It stayed in the water for about half a minute and then to my amazement managed to take off – just - with its wings sodden. It flew at a height of a couple of feet for a few yards and I’m sure would have made it to shore if the black-headed gulls wheeling around had not mobbed it. Again it flopped into the water. That must be it, surely? Again I was confounded. Its wings were now too waterlogged to get it into the air but their flapping propelled it slowly but effectively, whether against the air or the water wasn’t clear, but whether it was flying or swimming it was making good enough progress to get home. And then the coots took an interest, following it closely. They didn’t in the end attack but I and the pigeon (and the coots?) weren’t to know that.

    And then with about five metres to go I noticed a Lesser Black Backed Gull waiting at the edge where the pigeon was about to arrive. After all that, I thought, the awful irony of meeting a big hungry gull was too much. But then a Deus ex Machina arrived in the shape of an Arab gentleman who met it at the edge, picked it up gently, gave it some TLC and placed it in the shrubbery where it crawled as far in as it could with just its rear sticking out of the vegetation. It stayed absolutely motionless for the time I hung around (about ten minutes), and I’ve no idea what eventually happened to it.

    It was the unexpected behaviour that intrigued me subsequently: The pigeon overcoming two soakings, the crows going after a healthy pigeon, the gulls mobbing it for no reason, the coots chasing it, the human taking pity on an extraordinarily unlucky but resilient pigeon. And did it go rigid from shock or exhaustion?

    1. Thanks for this very interesting account.

      I've seen crows suddenly launch predatorial attacks, and a few years ago on my blog had a sequence of one killing a parakeet. They will do anything if they think it's advantageous and they can get away with it.

      I've also seen a pigeon take off from the water. I think that Feral Pigeons can, but Wood Pigeons are too heavy -- I once saw one of these rowing ashore with its wings after falling off the jetty at the Lido.

      I also think that the Coots were attracted by the flapping wings which seemed to promise a fight. They are always ready to barge in on other birds' disputes.

  2. Poor pigeon. I hope it recovered from the chain of misfortunes. It would be just too sad if it were to survive so many death threats only to die of fright after overcoming the odds.

    Well done on the Little Owl, showing that impudent squirrel who is the boss of the place.

    That pair of dancing Grebes is so lovable I am hard pressed not to burst into squeeing fits.

    1. I think Feral Pigeons are pretty resilient. They have a hard life in a city full of danger. War is the natural state of all creatures, though humans pretend otherwise.