Friday 10 May 2024

Little Owls evicted

Whitethroats were singing at the Queen's Temple.

Duncan Campbell got an excellent shot of a Treecreeper, a bird I've been having bad luck with recently.

A Jay put its crest up in the holly tree at Mount Gate. It was irritated that I was photographing it and not immediately producing a peanut.

A Carrion Crow is nesting in the Little Owls' tree at the Serpentine Gallery.

This will probably force the owls to find a different nest hole this year. The other sweet chestnut tree here has several suitable holes. The pair at the Round Pond will also have to move, as their previous tree now has squirrels in the bottom and Stock Doves in the top. Although the owls could probably rout these in a straight fight they would keep coming back, and always win in the end.

The Grey Heron chicks on the island are now almost adult size. They will be climbing around in the tree soon.

The single Great Crested Grebe chick at the Vista has grown noticeably.

The second nest is still in business.

Coots were having a brisk fight near the Triangle.

The Black Swan had a brief trip to the Round Pond but is now back on the Serpentine.

He hasn't managed to get his girlfriend back and was hooting sadly. If only it was possible to tell him that there is an unattached female in St James's Park who would probably be glad of his company. That's the Black Swan that was here a few years ago. Since going to St James's she has been acting as nanny to the cygnets of a pair of Mute Swans, probably a sign that she would like a family of her own -- and since she's friends with the Mutes, perhaps they wouldn't try to kill hers as Mutes sadly tend to.

A pair of Canada Geese took their goslings to feed on the varied plants on the edge of the Triangle shrubbery. In the second shot they were hissing at a woman who had got too close to them to take a picture on her phone.

Five goslings huddled on the shore at the Lido.

Along the south shore near Fisherman's Keep the Greylag parents with three goslings between them had joined forces to guard them.

Greylags don't cooperate as readily as Canadas, and the parents of three others nearby were keeping their distance.

Large Common Carp mooched around in a fountain pool in the Italian Garden.  The pools were never stocked with fish, and the carp and perch have all come from eggs brought in on the feet of birds since the pools were last drained and refilled during the renovations in 2011. Since then the biggest of the carp have grown to over 2ft 6in (77 cm) long.

There were plenty of Holly Blue butterflies, which are much commoner in the park than Common Blues. The green alkanet in the Flower Walk attracted one ...

... and there was another properly in the holly tree at Mount Gate.

Crane Flies mated near the Queen's Temple. These are the same Grass Long-Palp species as the one I photographed on Friday.

Duncan Campbell got a picture of Harlequin Ladybirds mating, showing two of their amazing variety of colour schemes.


  1. Hi Ralph, I believe the goslings in the video eating shrubbery are the raft goslings? I saw them tonight, hungry parents quickly came over from the Long Water beach strip but killer was nearby so had to be done quickly. He spotted me though and headed towards me, he tried to have a mild go at the family but luckily not many people feed in the Long Water so as soon as I started throwing food at him he prioritised accordingly. It will be a miracle if they survived next to him but he does seem semi-happy to share.

    What was the stuff the Egyptian goslings ate and died? Who found them and how old were they when they managed to get poisoned?

    1. Yes, it seems probable that it was the raft goslings.

      The little Egyptians that were poisoned were only a few days old. They died within five minutes. They were at the pointed end of the Triangle shrubbery. There's a small flower bed here, and the previous year a deadly poisonous castor bean plant had been put in there. It had been removed, but the plant spreads by suckers and it seems likely that this was the cause. I looked for leaves -- they are the shape of maple leaves but much smaller and shiny -- and couldn't see any, but it was in thick weeds so that proves nothing.

    2. If you mean Ricinus communis, which I know as Castor Oil Plant, often planted in its purple form, it isn't hardy in the UK, so unlikely to have any suckers? It tends to be used in summer bedding schemes.

    3. Would hemlock or some similar umbellifer work that quickly? I must look at that patch again.

    4. Certainly toxic to our system but not sure of its effects on birds. Hemlock Water-dropwort which is also very poisonous & is common along the Thames where there's vegetation & birds don't seem to touch it.

    5. I looked for possibly sinister umbellifers where they had been poisoned and found none near. But this happened several years ago.

  2. Perhaps the shrubbery had been treated for weeds? It's not uncommon here, and sometimes animals eat of the recently-treated area and die from the chemicals.
    A propos of nothing, but is anyone seeing the boreal auroras now? I'm quite miffed that we're missing the show in Spain.

    1. No pesticides are used in the park. One of the few sensible decisions by the management -- but many years ago, long before the present nincompoops were installed.

      Tom got some decent pictures of the aurora from Essex. Too much sky cast here in central London. People in northern England are getting the full display. Predicted to be better tomorrow (well, that's later today now).

    2. Went to fields in Bedfordshire and it was mind-blowing. What started as something like a diffuse rainbow stretching across the northern sky turned into pillars of light descending in a 240° arc from a radiant just southeast of the zenith. Although the eye could hardly see colours apart from the pink to red. And the geomagnetic activity has gone on rising into the small hours. Jim

    3. Lucky you. But even Tom could barely see it down here, and his pictures depend of the phone being more sensitive than the eye.

  3. How can you see the aurora borealis from here? I always thought you could only see it in the north pole and those kinds of places. I am happy to see that you found the Whitethroat. Every single time I went, I saw it so they might be nesting in the area since at times there are two of them.
    I too have had little luck with Treecreepers, getting only some awful shots through the snow around December last time.

    1. It's an unusually strong solar storm. reaching much farther south than usual. But you still need to be away from the sky cast to see it.