Saturday 30 September 2023

Little but majestic

A Robin sang quietly to itself in the corkscrew hazel bush in the Flower Walk.

A Long-Tailed Tit stared from a tree in the Dell.

The female Little Owl at the Round Pond looked down from the top of the horse chestnut tree. It seems odd that any creature so small should be so majestic, but Queen Victoria was only 4 feet 11 inches tall.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was lying down after another heavy meal.

A Black-Headed Gull had won a bit of bread and was having some difficulty swallowing it.

It was service as usual for the Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Serpentine.

There's another teenage Mute Swan on the Round Pond, bringing the total of young up to three. I think this is the new arrival, but it's hard to be sure.

The young cygnet that was actually hatched in the park is in the foreground here, with the other teenager.

The swan in the Italian Garden had a wash under a fountain.

Six Shoveller drakes rested on the gravel strip in the Long Water, in various stages of coming out of eclipse. There were two others farther along the strip.

The Michaelmas daisies in the Rose Garden were alive with bees, mostly Honeybees ...

... and Buff-Tailed Bumblebees.

A Common Carder preferred the smaller flowers of Slender Vervain.

Tom sent a remarkable picture of our visit to Rainham Marshes on Thursday, a female Wheatear knocking another off her perch.

Joan Chatterley was at Rye Meads, where she photographed a Great Egret ...

... a Little Egret ...

... and a Water Vole.


  1. The Little Owls have such dagger looks about them with their expressive eyebrows, but they mean no harm.
    Sean đŸ˜ƒ

  2. She is clearly Not Amused. Someone ought to have painted Queen Victoria with a Little Owl perched on her shoulder, Athena-like. It would be perfect.
    Did the new swan youngster fly in? Would he be able to fly from any othe the other ponds?

    1. Florence Nightingale really did have a Little Owl, rescued as a chick which she found in Athens where some horrible boys were tormenting it. She named the owl Athena. When Florence was ill in the Crimea in 1855, her sister Parthenope (lovely name) sent her a handwritrten 'Owl Book' to cheer her up. Appropriately enough it's now in the Wren Library at Trinity Cambridge:
      Here's the full text, including a poem by Florence in classical Greek:
      Portrait of Florence with Athena, by her sister Parthenope:
      Athena, stuffed, is still in existence. Despite the name, she is certainly male:

      The new young swan must have flown it, as it clearly comes from outside the park. It would not have known its way, so it must have been guided by a parent who is now on the pond.

    2. Dear God, this is delightful! I'm so amazed that no classical philologist seems to have picked on this - it'd make an amazing paper!