Thursday 29 July 2021

The Little Owl pair near the Speke monument were out on a branch of the chestnut tree where they have their nest hole. Thanks to Neil for this video.

It's remarkable how Little Owls can change their size and shape. I'm pretty sure this is the male because of his impressive eyebrows, but instead of his usual skinny outline he looked quite big. There was a bit of a chill still in the morning air and he had fluffed himself up to keep warm.

A young Great Tit in the Flower Walk was still hesitant about coming down to my hand for a pine nut.

The handsome bronze pigeon at Peter Pan is so used to being fed that it approaches anyone who stands still and waits for a treat. Sorry, I don't feed pigeons.

One of the young Carrion Crows at the Italian Garden had found the bottom of a cone containing a sweet dribble of melted ice cream, and was happily eating it on an urn.

Another crow had found the remains of a waffle at the Bluebird Boats snack bar, and was dunking it in a puddle.

The two young Lesser Black-Backed Gulls that I filmed a couple of days ago begging from a parent are fine-looking birds, slightly smaller and more delicate than Herring Gulls. Note that their flight feathers are dark all along the trailing edge of the wing. Herring Gulls of this age have paler inner primaries.

The Great Crested Grebe chick from the east end of the island is now quite large.

I haven't seen the family at the other end of the island for several days, and have been told that they are down to one chick. I'll have to check to confirm, as it's very easy to miss small chicks.

The oldest chick on the Long Water was fishing alone as usual. I do hope it's catching enough to keep going as it learns the skill.

A Coot on the Serpentine was delighted to have found a bit of mango.

One of the three Coot chicks in the Italian Garden was alone on the nest while its parents and the other two were milling around in the water.

This is one of the three dark Mallards which are probably brothers. It's in eclipse but these three scarcely change their appearance, unlike normal Mallard drakes.

A Gatekeeper butterfly settled on a leaf on the lakeside path below the Queen's Temple.

Duncan Campbell sent a fine picture of a Green-Veined White.

I think this pale bumblebee with lemon-yellow bands on a barberry flower must be a White-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum), much less common in the park than Buff-Tailed (B. terrestris).

Update: Conehead 54 thinks it might be a Garden Bumblebee (B. hortorum), but needs a picture of its face to be sure. So here is one.

Later: no, it is a White-Tailed Bumblebee.


  1. Nice butterfly shots Ralph. I don't remember seeing Gatekeepers in central London when I used to be there- are they a fairly recent arrival? Pretty common here in the suburbs-had at least 5 in the garden yesterday though the highlight was a visit by a Hummingbird Hawkmoth-first of the year. Not quite annual but I get a visit most years.

    I wonder whether your bee is a Garden Bumblebee, Bombus hortorum, with the yellow at the rear of the thorax & then broad on the first 2 abdominal segments? I can't see the face but they are long in this species & probe deeper flowers such as Foxgloves, labiates, etc.

    1. Thanks for the information. I've put up a picture of the bee's face; see above.

      We've has Gatekeeeper butterflies in the park for at least three years -- at least that's the age of my earliest picture of one.

  2. Thanks for the info re Gatekeepers.

    The face doesn't look that long to me. Though I'm not 100% sure I think given the amount of yellow on the face it's probably a male White-tailed Bumblebee which is the species you originally suggested. We can see it's male due to the lack of pollen basket & the antennae seem longer (they have one more segment). Looking at images of White-tailed it would seem unusual to have the extent of yellow on the body like this specimen. Usually there's one stripe near the front of the thorax and another band across the centre of the abdomen. I can see just one image a bit like yours in the Bumblebee Book by Nick Owens and that is also a male. Bumblebees can be pretty tricky to identify!

  3. Insects bewilder me. I adore bumblebees, but they trick me out.

    Why are Coot chicks so ugly, poor wee things (God forgive me for the unkindness)!

    1. Coot chicks look lovely to their parents, and that is the important thing.