Thursday 29 September 2022

Nervous Little Owl

The male Little Owl near the Speke obelisk was unusually nervous today, and fled twice while I was trying to photograph him. This picture is the best I could manage at the second try, of him lurking in the middle of a chestnut tree.

This Green Woodpecker photographed by Richard Oxborough near the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace looks very like the one I videoed near the Physical Energy statue on Wednesday 21 September. They move around over a large area, so it's quite likely to be the same.

A flock of Long-Tailed Tits dashed around in the trees near the bridge.

The female Peregrine returned to the barracks tower after four weeks' absence.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull saw a crowd of Feral Pigeons clustering around someone feeding them, and tried running in and grabbing one. This technique is less effective than his well tried method of catching a pigeon napping, and he got nothing but a few feathers.

A Black-Headed Gull tried to swallow a piece of stale dry Arab flatbread ...

... but admitted defeat and spat it out.

The youngest Grey Herons at the island are still tolerated by their parents, though their appeals for food are ignored and they're expected to fish for themselves. They seem to be doing all right.

The older brood, though, have definitely been kicked out. Here one of them gets shooed off the gravel bank on the Long Water.

A Cormorant preening at Peter Pan shone in a sunny spell.

The single young Moorhen from the boat platform rested with a parent on the jetty at the Lido. Unlike their relatives Coots, they don't dive.

The newly arrived female Mute Swan that arrived in the Italian Garden a few days ago is making progress with the cross old resident male, and he will allow her near him when there is a prospect of being fed.

On the Serpentine, the ultra-aggressive male chased a swan that was just minding its own business near the island.

With at least 40 Pochards on the Long Water, they are currently the most numerous duck in the park. They line the east side of the Long Water, though sometimes they're hard to see under the bushes. It's good that these Red-listed birds have found a safe wintering ground.


  1. I think love is going to be in the air for the cross old swan soon-ish. I hope so, at least.

    The Little Owl looks frankly spooked. It's almost as if crows got to him.


    1. Yes, I do hope that swan finds love. Maybe he will be a bit more mellow when he has a mate again, though I'm not holding my breath about that.

      The differences in personality between different individual owls, and indeed most birds, are very striking. The female owl at the Serpentine Gallery was completely unflappable, and on one occasion I was photographing her just above head height at a distance of 4 metres.

  2. That's a good number of Pochard. I only had a single pair on the Pen Ponds, Richmond Park on Wednesday & none at Kew yesterday where Gadwall were more numerous than Mallard!

    1. It's odd how few Mallard there are on the lake -- about 20. It can't be caused entirely by their lack of breeding success, with gulls taking almost all the ducklings. Tufted Duck are even less successful here, and there are three times as many of them. I think the latter breed on the canals.

  3. Certainly a pair of Tufted Ducks successfully bred on the canal near me at Hanwell Lock, with the female raising 6 ducklings to fledging. Also every year several pairs turn up on a relatively narrow pond with a linear island in Walpole Park, Ealing where 2 or 3 broods are normally raised. They then all disappear once fledged until birds start to return the following April.

    We don't get too many large gulls down-mainly Black-headed outside the breeding season, though have seen the occasional Herring Gull come down. A Heron is the main predator here.

    1. I've seen Tufted ducklings at the island where the Regent's Canal joins the Grand Union and the arm to Paddington Basin. Also Mandarin ducklings farther up the Regent's.