Saturday 18 November 2023

No Wigeon today but still two Little Owls

The male Little Owl near the Speke obelisk was out again on the same oak branch, though not in such a good position and this obstructed picture was the best I could get.

Morning drizzle kept the female at the Round Pond in her hole, and when it stopped and I went back she still hadn't emerged.

On the gravel strip in the pond, a young Herring Gull which had been begging at its parent lost patience and grabbed the parent's bit of bread.

The surface of the gravel strip is now several inches deep in the droppings of swans and geese, and on a wet day smells memorably vile. This is a problem no one had thought about when they put the gravel in. The gravel in the Long Water remains reasonably clean because only the killer Mute Swan and his family use it, and there are seldom many geese on the Long Water.

A male Pied Wagtail sprinted through the wet grass at the edge of the pond.

The young Grey Wagtail appeared on the edge of the Serpentine between the Lido and the restaurant, a place it often visits.

A Wren preened busily on a lime tree near the bridge.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull was also taking care of his immaculate feathers.

Yesterday's Wigeon had gone from the Round Pond, but there were plenty of more ordinary ducks to be seen. Two Shoveller drakes rested on the fallen poplar tree at the Vista.

Shovellers don't just shovel along the surface of the water. When necessary they upend and dabble like Mallards.

A fine picture of a Mallard drake in flight taken by Ahmet Amerikali.

A Gadwall pair cruised around one of the Italian Garden pools. For a change, here is the female. She's smaller and more delicate than a Mallard, and has yellowish-brown legs while those of a Mallard are orange. There's a glimpse here of the white secondary feathers in her wing -- those of a Mallard are iridescent blue.

A Grey Heron supervised a flock of Pochards on the Long Water.

A Pochard drake was diving under the bridge, giving a good view of the finely vermiculated feathers on his back.

There's a shortage of females in all duck species, as they are often predated while nesting on the ground. Tufted drakes here are competing for a female's favour, stretching their neck up to look impressive. (This video with choppy waves wasn't shot today, which was quite calm.)

Two other fairly frequent visitors weren't seen today: Mandarin and Red-Crested Pochard. Both fly in from other parks at any time of year.

The teenage Mute Swan 4FYW came here from Regent's Park. She stretched an enormous wing.

A flock of Greylag Geese erupted from the Diana fountain and splashed down on the Serpentine, to the surprise of two people in a pedalo.


  1. Swan yoga is the best kind of yoga.
    I'm a bit surprised that it's the make Little Owl that tends to brave the cold and the wind while the female stays inside. She's bigger, so I would imagine she'd be better insulated. Or perhaps it's again a temperament thing, he being more adventurous.

    1. It seems to be a general tendency with Little Owls, regardless of the temperature. The female stays near her nest, the male roams around. He may well shelter in other holes nearby if the weather gets bad. I know of one extra hole used by the Round Pond male, and another by the Speke male.

  2. Lovely shots of the Pochard. I have read that the female Pochards head farther south than the males for the winter which might also partly account for the skewed sex ration. In London I've not noticed it too pronounced, but whenever I get to Welney WWT Reserve on the Ouse Washes, there's often several hundred Pochard with only a handful of females.

    Many of the females apparently visit France & Spain for the winter.

    1. I was contacted a few years ago by one of the big bird organisations -- I forger which -- for a count of male and female Pochards in the park. They seemed to think that the ratio was particularly skewed on this species, and so it seemed from my figures at that time, someyhing like 8:1 if memory serves. But look at that long view from the bridge, plenty of females. It would take a survey over a whole year to show the truth