Tuesday 8 December 2020

Another misty morning. I went into the park early when you could hardly see, for a brief round of the lake with Tom before we went on an owl-finding expedition.

A pair of Egyptian Geese perched on a sawn-off treetop and made a tremendous racket to claim it as their territory.

A White-Fronted Goose, probably the same one as photographed yesterday, was grazing in the Diana fountain enclosure.

The Goldeneye was still on the Serpentine.

Bill Haines, an official bird ringer who is doing a survey of the movements of birds in the park, neatly caught a Black-Headed Gull, put on a standard BTO metal ring and a plastic ring for his survey, measured it and weighed it in a bag while his wife recorded the figures, and released it.

There was a brief view of an overwintering male Blackcap beside the Long Water.

A Great Tit went over the rotten wood of a dead tree looking for insects.

Then to an undisclosed location in north London to find the Short-Eared Owl. I'm not publishing the name of the place because the arrival of a lot of birders would disturb it.

While we were waiting for the owl to appear, we were visited by a Kestrel ...

... a distant Red Kite ...

... and a passing Grey Heron.

A Stonechat perched on a hawthorn.

Then the owl appeared -- what a gorgeous bird. It perched on the broken stalk of a hemlock or giant hogweed ...

... and looked around.

It took off and flew around as the sun went down.


  1. He is deft, that Bill Haines . Like Hugh, but a different style/ job, of course.

    1. p.s. envious: I've never seen a Short-Eared Owl. Nice shot & vids.

    2. Short-Eared Owls are often seen at Rainham Marshes in winter, to give the name of a place conveniently near London.

    3. Thanks for the favourable comments on my gull-catching abilities, folks. I have also ringed Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed gulls (though not catching them like this). They are to be treated with a great deal of respect when handling them and I am pleased to report that I still possess all of my digits, but still have the remnants of a scar from where a Great Black-backed gull bit me

  2. God, it's so BEAUTIFUL!!! (caps are merited in this case). Very glad you could find it and it obliged by posing and giving us all the gift of enjoying its magnificence.

    It's incredible how Bill Haines managed to catch that gull, and even more incredible that he isn't missing any fingers after the experience...

    1. The owl was well worth almost getting frozen to death.

      The gull bit Bill Haines a lot, as I would in the circumstances, but he is inured to such things. With a Herring Gull you could get seriously hurt, and better not to think of what a Great Black-Back could do -- though I have seen these with rings on.

    2. Hope you weren't frostbitten - I imagine that it must have taken hours of remaining still in the declining sun to get pictures. They were worth it, though, as they are magnificent.

      Once met a chap who ringed gulls. He claimed he's rather have a go at a rabid dog than at a yellog-legged gull.

    3. Judging by some of the comments on my gull video, Yellow-Legged Gulls seem to be particularly aggressive.

  3. Sorry about the two mess ups. I met Bill briefly at Barnes in October 2015 when he put me on to a hobby and I got close-ups of chiffchaff and long-tailed tit. Link here: