Friday 10 November 2023

Little Owls calling

Neither of the Little Owls at the Round Pond was visible, hardly surprising as their nest tree was covered with Jackdaws and Rose-Ringed Parakeets -- not threatening, but a nuisance for them.

Another Jackdaw perched on the sawn-off top of the dead tree. There are quite a lot of Jackdaws at the Round Pond now, maybe a dozen. A couple of years ago there was just one pair. They must be breeding here but I've never seen a young one.

However, the female Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery could be seen on a high branch in the old sweet chestnut tree where the pair have their nest hole.

She called to her mate, who replied with a single call at 0.20 in this video.

The Jay I couldn't feed yesterday is still on speaking terms, and was pacified with a peanut.

The Jays in St James's Park get a richer diet of almonds thanks to Mark Williams, who took this picture of one trying to collect as many as possible.

Another picture by Mark, taken here at the Round Pond. Feeding Starlings is a painful process, as they have very sharp beaks and use them freely.

There was a brief glimpse of the Grey Wagtail running along the edge of the Serpentine at the Triangle car park.

The Peregrines were on the tower. By the time I got round to them the light had become very dim, so I couldn't get much of a photograph.

The old Grey Heron at the Henry Moore sculpture was sitting down again to rest his weary joints. In fact anatomically speaking, his legs are in the same position as those of a standing human since he is resting on his tarsi, the equivalent of human heels.

The reflection of an autumn tree made a golden background for a Cormorant at Peter Pan.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull washed the blood off his face after his lunch and had a brief preen to keep himself looking good. He knows he is the smartest gull in the park.

Usually when a Moorhen advances on a Black-Headed Gull on a post the gull flies off. But this one wouldn't budge and the Moorhen had to retreat.

An avenue of flowers and candles was set up in the Italian Garden for a romantic proposal of marriage. One of the young Moorhens inspected it to see if there was anything edible. (I did film the proposal, but that's a private matter.)

The young Great Crested Grebe from the east end of the island is beginning to get a black crest.

The solitary Shoveller drake at the island has found a friend to shovel with. It's much more efficient to have another duck to stir up the water in front of you, so any two Shovellers will revolve together, not just mates.

The pair of Egyptian Geese who nest near Henry Moore were preening at the Vista.


  1. Am loving the shots of the grey wagtail - even if the little so-and-so makes himself scarce every time I visit...ah well, better luck on Monday, hopefully :)

    1. Best place seems to be under the bushes on the edge of the Serpentine at the east end of the Lido restaurant terrace, viewed from the jetty.

  2. Is that Black-Headed Gull that refused to back down to the Moorhen the resident one? I can't tell gulls apart, but it certainly does look to have the correct attitude.
    Maybe the Moorhen just wanted to be a bridesmaid. Or just sneak into the wedding reception and eat cake.

    1. No, that's not the Black-Headed Gull that owns the boat platform, which is well on its way to getting a dark head at the moment. It would be wonderful to have birds as bridesmaids, like Earl Mar's Daughter.

    2. I wish I had read that ballad before my wedding!

    3. The earldom of Mar, created in 1404, still exists. It can be passed down the female line as well as the male line, which is unusual, and the current holder, Margaret Alison of Mar, born 1940, is Countess of Mar in her own right. She was active as a 'crossbencher' (not aligned to any political party) in the House of Lords till she retired in 2020.

  3. Enjoying your blog. I’m an American birder coming to central London on business next week. Interested in seeing some of these species (esp little owls) in person. Are you out every day? Any way to connect?

    1. Yes, please write to me at
      I shall be too busy on Wednesday 15th but any other day is OK.

  4. [commenting on yesterday's post once again.. grrrr]
    The new cygnet looks remarkably tame and trusting. Maybe she is feeling lonely and looking for company.

    1. Swans in the park soon learn that people are frightened of them and will get out of the way.