Thursday, 23 July 2020

The young Little Owl on Buck Hill was in the broken lime tree, well hidden among the leaves.

Its mother didn't like being out in the wind, but she had to keep an eye on it in case of a Magpie attack, so she hung on grimly as the branch thrashed about.

The young owl does get fed during the daytime. Yesterday Ahmet Amerikali got this picture of the mother arriving with a large caterpillar.

He also photographed a Green Woodpecker in a nearby sweet chestnut tree ...

... and a Meadow Grasshopper. These are abundant on Buck Hill, and are hunted by our resident Kestrel. I don't know whether the Little Owls are quick enough to catch them.

It takes young Carrion Crows some time to learn how to shell a peanut and extract the contents, something an adult can do in ten seconds. This young crow toiled away and eventually managed to get out one nut, while a Wood Pigeon strolled around expecting it to fail. Finally an adult stepped in, removed the other nut in a moment, and ate it.

The gardeners have spread wood chips under a California Bay tree in the Rose Garden to improve water retention and keep down weeds. They attract a lot of insects, which this Blackbird was busily excavating.

The Great Crested Grebe chicks at the bridge are getting quite large now.

The sitting grebe at the Diana fountain reed bed continued her patient vigil.

A dramatic picture by Ahmed of a grebe catching a pike. Yes, somehow it did manage to swallow the fish.

As the fish in the lake get larger, more Cormorants are arriving. These four were on the posts at the island, with another two in the water nearby.

The Coots' nest at the Dell restaurant is now a veritable skyscraper. Counting the submerged base, it must be getting on for four feet tall. There is always a sitting bird now so there must be a second clutch of eggs, though I haven't yet been able to see how many there are.

The Moorhen chick under the willow stepped out on improbably large feet.

A brisk wind over the lake encouraged some Mute Swans to try out their recently regrown wing feathers. The Black Swan has been able to fly for several weeks now, but came along just for the fun of it.

The two Mallard ducklings from the bridge are growing well.

We've had a photograph of a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee on an eryngium flower before, but it does make a pretty picture so here's another.


  1. Hard to decide which is the more adorable of the two, the young Little Owl or the Bumblebee. Let's call it a draw.

    The mother owl is such a devoted parent. She looks very uncomfortable in the wind, and yet she just braces herself and endures.

    I wonder what the Wood Pigeon's intentions are. Surely not just laughing at the crow's failure?

    1. The Wood Pigeon was waiting for the young Carrion Crow to abandon the peanut unopened, after which the pigeon would have eaten it, swallowing it shell and all. I've seen a bolder Wood Pigeon actually take a peanut from an adult crow.

  2. Some lovely shots of the grebes.

    Pretty sure your grasshopper is a Meadow Grasshopper. Colours are very variable feature in grasshoppers & the structure of the keels on top of the thorax are one of the most important features in ID. This species tends to be the commonest in meadows. Common Green seems to be in decline in south-east England with drier summers, favouring moist grasslands.

    1. Thank you. I was most uncertain about this identification, as all the pictures I got of both species were, as you say, very variable.

  3. The owl video and pics are awesome.
    Love the bee and grasshopper pics, contrasting colours...
    And the three swans seem to be having so much fun...

    1. Swans fly for fun when there's a wind. Heading into it reduces their takeoff run and saves much of the great effort of hauling themselves into the air.