Saturday 1 June 2024

Little Owls watching and watched

The male Little Owl at the Round Pond called and preened on his usual branch in the small lime tree overlooking the dead tree.

I've seen fewer Stock Doves around the dead tree recently, and the invading squirrels not at all for some time. Also I haven't seen the female owl. All this points to the pair having reclaimed the tree and the female now nesting in it, which would also explain the male's vigilance from a place where he can keep an eye on the tree. I don't know how to assess his calls, which are certainly not the angry calls of an owl on the warpath, which I am well familiar with from this very owl as he used to shout at me and buzz me when I first started photographing him and getting too near the nest tree. Perhaps they are a low-level warning: I know you and you aren't really a threat, but don't do anything rash.

No sign of nesting at all at the Serpentine Gallery, hardly surprising with a Carrion Crow's nest in the usual nest tree. And no sign either of them going to another tree. This will have to be watched.

Great Tit fledglings are shouting for attention all over the park. Here's one at the northwest corner of the bridge ...

... and another in the Rose Garden shrubbery.

There are fewer families of Blue Tits but their higher pitched begging calls are also audible. These two fledglings were on the south side of the Serpentine near the Lido.

Young Robins are much quieter but also often seen. This one was in the Rose Garden ...

... and there was another in the Dell. Both have been photographed before in much the same place.

A male Greenfinch called from the familiar half-dead holly tree on the west side of the Long Water. A female has been visible in the same place, so this looks like another breeding pair.

A female Blackbird collected worms for her nestlings near the Speke obelisk.

A Grey Wagtail was also busy on the fenced-off bit of the path near the bridge.

The male Pied Wagtail ...

... and his apparently single fledgling were at the Lido restaurant.

A pair of Magpies seen near the Henry Moore sculpture are building a nest in the trees a short way to the south.

No sign yet of hatching in the latest Grey Heron nest at the east end of the island, but herons have a way of surprising you even when you can see quite well into a low nest.

Some of the Gadwall drakes are going into eclipse and are looking less elegant than their usual neat selves ...

... but the Mandarin drakes are well into it and looking dreadfully tatty.

One of the young foxes strolled through the Dell.

A fine picture from Duncan Campbell: a Batman Hoverfly. You can clearly see the mark on the thorax which gives the species its popular name.

I haven't seen any developments with the four threatened Mute cygnets on the Serpentine. Please comment here if you do.


  1. Hi Ralph,

    the Diana memo family have been pushed out to the south side of the lake across from the island/parked boats. This morning they were on the south side near the disused nest, and tonight closer to the Dell area. They still have 2 cygnets and they saved themselves from being wiped out. Wise wise move.

    This morning when I first checked I panicked because I didn't see them and I thought they all died.
    There was a stand off between The Psycho and Lido dad, psycho then retreated back to the Long Water. No fight just the neck thing they do when they block one another from tresspassing. They still have 2 cygnets as well. It's not going to be easy for them to fight their corner ( literally ) and the Lido dad is now taking a big risk but willing to take it.

    1. Glad that at least one swan is standing up to the killer. And that the killer is backing down when confronted by an opponent with cygnets to defend.

  2. Something ought to be done about the Psycho. It's only going to get worse.
    The Little Owl seems to me to be going through the motions of giving a warning, but his heart isn't in it, I'd say.

    1. The most horrible thing about the psychotic swan is that he has the whole Long Water to himself - and that is a really large stretch of water. It's similar size to the Serpentine. Problem is not many people feed at the Long Water spots and they just want bread. They will try to go as far as the Tringle Car Park soon where Arab people tend to feed the pigeons etc.

    2. The Long Water is only slightly smaller than the Serpentine, but it's quite narrow and that means the space can only be occupied by one pair. It's been like that for a long time. On the Serpentine I've recently seen the killer go past the Triangle, the whole way to the Lido. Let's hope he meets determined and effective resistance when he tries to do that against two determined pairs with cygnets to protect.

      If the female Little Owl at the Round Pond is really nesting, and I hope she is, the eggs can't have hatched yet. I regularly go close to the dead tree and there has been no sound of begging owlets, which make a distinctive hissing sound.

    3. Arab people.?.?