Tuesday 28 February 2023

The female Little Owl emerges

For a change it was the female Little Owl who was out in the horse chestnut tree, braving the chilly northeast wind. This is the one who is usually seen looking out of the hole in the dead tree where the pair nest.

As it says on a Coade stone plaque on the Albert Hall, 'Who watches is wise.'

Three Long-Tailed Tits jumped around in the bushes at the back of the Lido.

A Coal Tit posed in just the right place in the paperbush in the Flower Walk.

A male Chaffinch perched on another branch.

A female came out of the bushes near the bridge.

A flock of Redwings were chattering in the trees near the Speke obelisk. It's been a good year for Redwings, but it seems that the migrant Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes have missed us completely.

A Dunnock foraged under the chairs on the Lido restaurant terrace, deserted by humans on a cold day.

The usual female Pied Wagtail was hunting on the edge at the Lido.

A Magpie had been washing in the Serpentine, and perched on a branch to shake itself dry.

Gulls' behaviour can be difficult to interpret, but I think the two Herring Gulls at the back were a pair, and the one in front was a male trying to win over the female.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden got another larva. Conehead 54 thinks these are Caddis Fly larvae, but it would need a better picture to make sure. I still can't carry the big camera, which would have provided one, but should be able to start again in a week or so.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Long Water have abandoned their nest, which has been taken over by a Coot. The pair were fishing together under the Italian Garden.

Another pair on the Serpentine were also busy.

The first wild flowers are beginning to come up in the patch in the Rose Garden.

Monday 27 February 2023

Two Little Owls at the Round Pond

There are indeed two Little Owls by the Round Pond. This one was in the same place as yesterday. He is definitely male, with a rather flat-topped head and big eyebrows.

The female looked out of the hole in the nest tree. You can just see that she has a more domed head and smaller eyebrows.

The dominant Robin at the Queen's Gate crossing of the Flower Walk perched in the top of a tree ready to attack any birds that got too near him.

A Blue Tit was at a safe distance in the paperbush ...

... and outside the Flower Walk towards Mount Gate, a Coal Tit looked out of a deodar.

Redwings chattered in the trees on the Parade Ground.

There were also some Goldfinches adding to the noise.

The two Grey Heron chicks stirred restlessly in the nest on the island. Soon they will be out and climbing in the branches.

A adult heron searched for rats in dead leaves beside the Long Water.

A Great Crested Grebe on the Serpentine saw his mate and hurried towards her ...

... and the two greeted each other ceremoniously.

The Little Grebe in the Italian Garden is beginning to get the reddish colour of its breeding plumage -- much later than its larger relatives which have been in their full finery since the New Year.

The Black Swan was on the lawn beside the Round Pond, stretching up his amazingly long neck.

An Egyptian Goose stood in the oak tree at the bottom of the leaf yard where the Jackdaws nest.

A pair on the ground below considered it an intruder.

There are still a few Pochards. This one was under the willow next to the bridge.

Sunday 26 February 2023

The young Grey Herons get fed

A Blue Tit sang in a treetop next to the busy bridge, having to raise his voice to be heard above the traffic noise.

A pair at Mount Gate both came out to be hand fed.

It's only in the past year that word has got out among the Blue Tits that it's safe to come to people's hands. Before then only a very few would come, now most will.

A Robin sang in the Flower Walk with the gold spire of the Albert Memorial as a background.

Redwings flew around the trees by the Speke obelisk.

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet looked into a hole in a tree near the Round Pond. Neil tells me that he has seen a Little Owl in the hole, so it risked a nasty surprise.

Neil has also seen two Little Owls in the trees here. This raises the question of whether the male owl we often see here is one of last year's young, as I thought, or whether it's one of the pair that bred here.

Anyway, he was on his favourite tree looking particularly magnificent in the hazy afternoon sunshine.

A pair of Magpies perched side by side in the next tree.

A Pied Wagtail chirped as he looked for insect larvae on the edge of the Serpentine. The wind was quite brisk and he kept being blown sideways.

A Moorhen a short way down the shore was enjoying a pot of tomato ketchup.

One of the Grey Herons on the island fed the two chicks by regurgitating mashed fish down their throat. The chicks think this is delicious, anyway.

Another heron looked disapprovingly at a Cormorant on the old water filter below the Italian Garden. The Cormorant's diving was disturbing the heron's stealthy technique.

It was the Cormorant that got a fish, a large carp that it had some difficulty swallowing.

The Little Grebe was in the Italian Garden. If it stays here (and it's been here for two months now) there will be small fish for it when the carp and perch have spawned. Meanwhile it seems to be doing all right on insect larvae and other small aquatic creatures.

The Great Crested Grebes on the Serpentine are making no attempt at nesting, fortunately as there is still little for the young to eat.

There was a young Mute Swan in one of the Italian Garden pools. It can live here well enough eating algae and snails, but it now has to work out first how to climb out of a pool and second how to leave down the steps around the marble fountain. Swans do learn to do this, so it's best to leave it alone and not try to rescue it.

The Egyptian Goose by the Henry Moore sculpture was still on her nest ...

... while her mate on the grass below was being mildly annoyed by a squirrel.

Saturday 25 February 2023

Hungry small birds

A cold morning made the small birds particularly hungry and they thronged out to be fed. As usual it was mostly Great Tits, but a Blue Tit and a Coal Tit made an appearance. The local Robin is camera-shy and didn't feature.

Nor did the tatty Blue Tit, as she was farther up the path in the paperbush.

There were Redwings in the trees right next to the bicycle path through Kensington Gardens, taking no notice of the Saturday crowds.

A Blackbird peered nervously round a tree.

A Jay waited for a peanut at the back of the Albert Memorial.

The cold wind was too much for the Little Owl at the Round Pond and he stayed in his hole.

The young Grey Herons were climbing around in the nest on the island.

One of the other pair of herons looked out from the lower nest.

This is the first time I've managed to photograph the Little Grebe catching something, apparently an insect larva.

A Coot brought a twig to the nest under the bridge.

A pair of Moorhens looked for food and preened on the edge of the Serpentine.

A Grey Squirrel sharpened its teeth by chewing a piece of wood. Judging by the state of the wood it must have been chewing for some time. Squirrels' teeth grow continuously. They have harder enamel on the front than on the back, so they wear down to a chisel edge.