Friday 19 August 2022

Owlet grown up

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond has taken to perching in a dense clump of dead leaves in a horse chestnut tree where it's very hard to find her. Yesterday, although I had heard her calling and knew where she was to with a few feet, I couldn't see her at all. Today I just managed to get a glimpse of feathers through the leaves, and scuttled around to find the least obstructed view.

This owlet is now really grown up, with adult white spots on top of its head, and its eyes, originally pale jade green, are now yellow. It already has impressive eyebrows which are probably a sign that it's male. I'm sure it will be hunting for itself by now.

Both Peregrines were on the tower, as usual perched an unsocial distance apart.

A Wren looked out from a lime tree on Buck Hill.

The bold Coal Tit in the Flower Walk, which I hadn't seen for several days, came out to take a pine nut from my hand.

This isn't the Robin that comes to my hand. There are several families along the Flower Walk.

The Jay that accosts people between the Flower Walk and the Serpentine Gallery is the first one to have flown down to grab a peanut from someone's hand. This was not a trick taught to it by humans: the Jay seems to have invented it, originally as a cheeky and daring raid perhaps when someone was trying to feed a parakeet. Now several Jays are copying it. You can tell that this is the original Jay by the way it calls to you before taking off.

The remains of a Feral Pigeon near one of the small boathouses showed that the pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was back on his home turf. Getting closer to the Dell restaurant, you can tell he's there by the absence of Herring Gulls, which he chases away. He is smaller than them but fiercer.

A Grey Heron on Buck Hill was sunbathing and preening at the same time. I think that when Herons extend their wings in that way they aren't just warming themselves in the sunshine. It may be a way of encouraging parasites to come to the surface so that they can be picked off.

Two male Mute Swans contested territory on the Long Water -- the old dominant male who used to command the whole stretch, and the interloper who established a nest and raised a family on the gravel bank. The two families came to an uneasy truce. The second swan took his family away under the bridge a few days ago and the first swan started to reclaim his lost territory, but now the second swan is back and the dispute has broken out again. This circling display of bluff may look silly, but it avoids them having to fight -- which might be to the death.

The dominant male's mate was preening with the teenage cygnets on the nesting island. The heron is now constantly there and there's not much they can do about it. Even a swan can't argue with that beak.

The grass around the Round Pond is so thoroughly ruined after the drought that the Greylag Geese have taken to feeding farther afield. The long grass may be dead but it's still nutritious. Geese don't need vitamin C -- most animals can make it themselves though we can't, in common with our nearest primate relatives, some bats and, for some reason, guinea pigs.

The Egyptian family with four teenagers on the Serpentine hurried across the road to avoid an oncoming dog, which was on a lead but it's better to err on the side of caution. They have to interrupt their grazing every time a dog passes, which is often. They don't have a quiet life.

The Mallard with six ducklings can take over the Coots' nest at the bridge whenever she wants, as she is bigger than a Coot and emboldened by having a family to protect. The Coots hang around angrily, but if one gets too close she shoos it away.

A fair number of migrant Pochards have arrived on the Long Water -- all drakes, as the sexes migrate separately. There is a terrible lack of females in this species, probably because a lot are killed by predators when nesting on the ground, and Common Pochards are now Red-listed.

A Pochard browsed among the reeds under the Italian Garden, looking for small water creatures clinging to the stems.


  1. It may suit the swans for the heron to perch there, as it's no danger to juveniles of that size, and it means a fox can't sneak up around that side.

    Some birds can't synthesize vitamin C, and the only mammals found to be unable to are guinea pigs, most bats, and higher primates. See here. And always a pleasure to tune in. Jim

    1. I wonder whether swans are capable of that kind of reasoning.

      Thank you for the clarification about vitamin C.

  2. I think swans have the right idea. Posturing and bluffing to prevent carnage sounds much better than what we humans do to solve conflict.


    1. It seems to be the norm in all creatures but Coots and us.

  3. Lovely shots as ever - that coal tit is very impressive (and I looked at the video in the newer post) Managed to mis-read your Vitamin C comment so I thought you were making an ironic remark about guinea pigs being our nearest relatives....

    1. Well, they might be. Look at the way people tolerate the crazy persecution of the government.

    2. I don't quite see Boris as a victim of "persecution"....?

    3. I meant us, not the wretched Johnson. But even he was the victim of a coup orchestrated by the WEF faction in the party.