Wednesday 29 March 2023

The Robin meets his match

The dominant Robin in the Flower Walk, who bullies all the small birds, met his match when a bold Blue Tit knocked him off my hand. Blue Tits may be small but they punch well above their weight.

Coal Tit are tiny and have to wait for a gap in the arrivals of larger birds before they can come down to feed. But they usually manage it if you wait for them.

Even smaller, Goldcrests will have nothing to do with humans -- at least so far, but we thought that about Long-Tailed Tits until Mark enticed one to his hand recently. This one was photographed in a bush in the Rose Garden by Shachar Hizkiya.

Thanks for Ahmet Amerikali for this picture of a Long-Tailed Tit nesting in Southwark Park. There are several pairs nesting here, but  in all places I've found here this year the nests are well hidden and you can only get brief glimpses of the birds.

Ahmet also found a Chiffchaff.

The dark Grey Wagtail worked along the shore at the Dell restaurant. This is just across the path from the Dell waterfall, where I hope the pair will be nesting.

The pair of Wood Pigeons at the northeast corner of the bridge munched their way through some leaf buds. Any kind of bud or shoot or berry is food for them, never mind how tough or sour.

The permanent war between Great Crested Grebes and Coots continues. A pair of grebes picked at the Coot nest by the bridge ...

... and the Coots repaired it.

A pair of Mute Swans courted and mated on the Serpentine. The full display might take as long as ten minutes, so only the final two minutes are shown here.

The dominant pair on the Long Water spend too much time begging at the Vista ...

... while intruders come through the bridge and on to their territory. This pair under the willow by the bridge are screened from their sight.

The solitary Mandarin drake, chased away from the pair, looked lonely on the Serpentine. He won't find a mate here. Time to go home to the Regent's Canal and start looking around.

A fine picture of a Tufted drake by Duncan Campbell.

Here is a mystery. I always have a wall calendar with photographs of owls. Normally I buy the National Geographic one which has superb pictures, but this year I accidentally bought a similar-looking but less good one made by another firm. It includes this picture, captioned as a Tawny Owl which quite plainly it isn't. It doesn't seem to be any European species. Do any readers have an idea of what it might be?


  1. It looks like a Short-eared Owl to me? The colouring is a bit off (there should be more black around the eyes), but shape and plumage are very similar.
    I wish we could have seen the Blue Tit maneuvre, but unless there was someone pointing the camera at the exact same moment it'd be impossible.
    I don't despair of seeing Goldcrests coming to your hand, sooner or later.

    1. Yes, I considered a Short-Eared Owl, but its face markings really can't be forced into a match. An American owl enthusiast says it doesn't match anything he knows. I have a feeling it's African or South American and completely beyond our ken.

  2. What about a Long-eared Owl with its ears lowered?

    1. Aha, I think you've got it. Here is a picture of a LEO in Mongolia of all places, with an unusually pale face that's quite a close match with the mystery picture. Thank you.

  3. Do you not see a regular kingfisher Ralph?

    1. No. If I did it would be on the blog, of course.