Friday, 24 January 2020

In spite of the dull weather two Little Owls were visible today, both female: one near the Albert Memorial ...

... and the other near the Henry Moore sculpture.

Both pairs have become much more active recently, but I don't think they're starting to breed yet. Usually Little Owls wait until spring is well advanced before beginning.

At the Dell restaurant, two Carrion Crows were attracted by a plate with the remains of some chocolate cake on it, but were wary of the plate, walking around it cautiously and eating the crumbs which had fallen on the table.

In his book Mind of the Raven, Bernd Heinrich observes that Ravens are afraid of new food and have to examine it long and carefully before they start eating. This must be a protective reflex. If you're eating carrion, you need to be sure it's really dead and won't turn round and bite you.

At the Lido restaurant, the usual Dunnock was having no hesitation in catching insects.

A Long-Tailed Tit paused for a moment in the corkscrew hazel bush in the Dell.

Two Grey Herons hurried over to where others were being fed.

A Magpie washed in the Serpentine.

One of the Bar-Headed x Greylag Goose hybrids had flown in from St James's Park and was drinking on the edge.

An Egyptian Goose ate algae off the marble fountain in the Italian Garden, which is still out of order.

Feeding the dominant Mute Swan on the Long Water and his single teenager from last year. The seeds sink, giving the diving Tufted Ducks a good chance of getting some in the frenzy.

As the dark grey day went by, more Mute Swans came up to eat the grass on the bank at the back of the Lido swimming area. The grass is good but the swans are at risk from irresponsible dog owners who let their pets loose. Today the dull weather kept most of these out of the park.

The Black Swan on the Round Pond chased a Mute Swan away and forced another on to the bank. It can dominate all the swans on the pond except for one big male. This may lead to a serious final showdown.

Joan Chatterley sent a picture of the young Black Swan in St James's Park.

Its peculiar two-tone neck hasn't changed visibly since the last picture. If it's growing a new set of pure black feathers, it's not doing so quickly. The Black Swan on the Round Pond is only a little older, but much blacker.


  1. I wonder if the two colours are due to deficiencies in diet. White spots in crows are usually due to poor nutrition.

    What a wonderful, almost tactile, picture of the Long-Tailed Tit in the hazel bush!

    1. It's an idea, but the distribution of the darker colour is puzzling. Joan Chatterley will keep watching the young Black Swan, of course, and we may get a better idea of the cause over time.