Tuesday 27 July 2021

The male Little Owl was in an old chestnut tree a few yards to the west of the place I pinpointed in yesterday's blog.

Neil got a picture of the female near another hole in the next tree. This may be their nest hole rather than the one I photographed yesterday. We can't be sure until we actually see an owl going into the hole.

Two Carrion Crows perched in a nearby lime. I photographed them because they reminded me of Arthur Rackham's illustration to The Twa Corbies (though of course corbies are ravens, not crows).

A crow bathed in an ants' nest. Probably the formic acid released by the angry ants has some effect in killing the bird's parasites. I've put a 10-second lead-in on this video in an effort to stop YouTube's buffering from pixelating the image so much that you can't see the ants.

There was a shower in the morning, making a Magpie look bedraggled. It's perched on the crown on the ornamental chimney of a Royal Parks gas lamp.

A Buzzard passed high over Kensington Gardens.

The very confident bronze Feral Pigeon at Peter Pan sidled up the railing hoping to be fed, but it got photographed instead.

At a time when the small birds are mostly out of sight, it's gratifying even to get a momentary glimpse of a Chiffchaff in the top of a sycamore near Peter Pan.

Neil got a picture of his favourite Coal Tit near the West Carriage Drive. The bird hates being photographed but will endure a few shots if it knows it's going to get a pine nut afterwards.

A Herring Gull had torn a crayfish in half, but only had the front half ...

... because a crow had stolen the meatier back half.

A Lesser Black-Backed Gull regurgitated bits of bread to feed its begging young. There were 27 Lesser Black-Backs in the park today, the most I've ever seen here, and it seems that they have started breeding not far away. There has been a breeding colony of Herring Gulls for some years in Paddington, but no sign of breeding Lesser Black-Backs till recently.

We now have four pigeon-eating gulls in the park, but this is the original Lesser Black-Backed Gull who has been catching pigeons for at least 16 years, on his usual hunting ground near the Dell restaurant. Two hungry Carrion Crows annoyed him, so he took his meal into the lake out of their reach.

There's a new Great Crested Grebe nest on the Long Water opposite Peter Pan. I think these are the parents of the oldest chick, which is now independent. This pair have already tried a second nest in a reed bed but it seems to have failed. They can go on trying for at least a month with reasonable hope of success; the latest successful nest I've seen in the park was started on 1 September.

The Moorhens that nested on the powerboat at Bluebird Boats have sadly lost their two chicks. But there's time for them to try again, preferably in a less silly place. Under the boat platform would be fine.


  1. Hi Ralph. Today, at around 17:30, I heard a Little Owl hooting and then saw it popping it’s head out of the nest hole of the chestnut you pinpointed. It’s the very small hole facing away from the Speke Obelisk and the pedestrian path. I also saw an owl nearby the hole yesterday too. Looks like your judgement was correct!

    1. Thanks. Will check this tree carefully tomorrow.

  2. Public thanks are due to Ralph for going the extra-mile to give us our daily dose of Little Owls.

    I think I can almost hear the two Crows talking, although in my mind they sound like south Londoners.

    Did the handsome bronze pigeon finally get rewarded?

    1. I don't feed pigeons, but lots of people do feed this one because it's good looking and good at begging.

  3. Lovely Little Owl shot. Well done on the Buzzard. In the suburbs I regularly see them on my patch, but less frequent in the urban centre.

    The pigeons had better be careful if the number of Lesser Black-backs increase!

    1. The number of Feral Pigeons taken by the pigeon-eating gulls, the Sparrowhawks and the Peregrines in the park every year must exceed the total pigeon population, but the numbers never decrease as more come in from outside.

  4. Yes, their fecundity is no doubt why they seem so successful in virtually every city around the world.