Friday 12 April 2024

Sunshine brings out an owl

A sunny day brought the male Little Owl at the Serpentine Gallery, not seen for some time, out on top of the nest tree.

A Carrion Crow ...

... and a Magpie did their best to look sweet in the cherry blossom.

The Song Thrush at Peter Pan sang from a holly tree ...

... and the shy female Blackbird in the Rose Garden shrubbery allowed herself to be photographed.

Starlings are nesting in the eaves of the Buck Hill shelter. One perched on the copper top of the roof.

The Long-Tailed Tits at the southwest corner of the bridge were busy bringing insects to their young. Ahmet Amerikali got a good shot of one flying in with a beakful of midges.

Another jumped from one twig to another without bothering to use its wings.

One of the Coal Tits came out in a bush across the path.

The affectionate Herring Gull pair on the south shore of the Serpentine moaned softly to each other.

The Grey Heron in the nest at the west end of the island was sitting peacefully in the nest. The pair's confusing behaviour has made it impossible to know when they started incubating the eggs, so we'll just have to wait for them to hatch.

Only one of the two chicks in the east nest was visible. But it's lucky to see any chicks this young at all, thanks to the nest being low in the tree and shallow in shape.

The nine Coot chicks in one of the Italian Garden fountains and the six slightly younger ones in another were all out on the water being fed by their respective parents.

A pair of Mute Swans have started nesting next to the Lido restaurant terrace, a most unsuitable place but there are few possible sites so they can't be choosy.  The female was rearranging twigs and the male, guarding the nest just offshore, picked up dead leaves and dropped them nearer the edge, an instinctive nesting behaviour though in this case pointless.

Egyptian Geese, feeding on the grass by the crowded path along the Serpentine, saw a dog in the distance and took their five goslings to the safety of the water.

The five Mallard ducklings had survived another day and were behind the boathouse railings.

In the Flower Walk a Dark-Edged Bee Fly hovered to stick its strangely long proboscis into a green alkanet flower ...

... and a male Hairy-Footed Flower Bee worked over a patch of hellebore.


  1. Hi Ralph, I was not aware herring gills COULD be affectionate !!..great blog,as always...but no news today of the Egyptian gosling ?? .regards,Stephen....

    1. Gulls are intelligent birds with complex behaviour. That pair has been together for several years and they often display affection to each other.

      I didn't see the Egyptian gosling in one pass of the Lido, but I didn't see its parents either.

  2. There’s something about the Egyptian Geese and their parenting skills. They are always by the younglings side and ready and alert for whatever! I’ve been watching my own brood at my local park for the last few days and at first they see me as a threat, but once they see I’m just intrigued and wanting a picture, they become almost inviting and feel instantly part of the family. I do feel it also has something to do with their hypnotic golden, red patched eyes that gives you that warm welcoming feeling.

  3. I often wonder if it's true that hellebore can be toxic, as the Greeks used to say, or even if today's hellebore is the same plant they called ἑλλέβορος. It certainly seems not to have such an effect on bees.
    Always a welcome sight, to see the male Little Owl in all its small glory.
    That magpie ain't fooling no one.

    1. The male Little Owl of that pair is unusually tiny, but he makes up for it with the size of his eyebrows.

      The Wikipedia article on Hellebore discusses the toxicity of hellebore, which is indeed toxic, and mentions that the ancient name applied to both what we call hellebore and to another more poisonous plant. This section is at the end of the article. It's worth noting that honeybees can browse on plants that are poisonous to humans with no harm to themselves and make honey that is toxic to humans, as described in the Anabasis where Xenophon's men were laid low by rhododendron honey.