Friday, 6 April 2012

Welcome to the Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park birds blog! This blog is intended as a notice board for all who love and watch the birds in the park, and I welcome any news and comments that readers provide.

It is not a direct replacement for Des McKenzie's much missed blog. I am not an expert birder, and I don't have Des's phenomenal ability to spot a buzzard through a brick wall. So I am relying on all of you who read this blog to make it an informative and  useful place.

To start you off, what's going on here in early April?

The most exciting news is the recent arrival of three pairs of Little Owls in Kensington Gardens. The most easily visible pair is nesting in one of the old sweet chestnut trees at the southeast corner of the Leaf Yard, a few yards from the signpost. The female sits on her nest in the top of the hollow tree and only emerges occasionally, but the male is often seen on a tall lime tree nearby, and sometimes calls to her.

The famous pair of Tawny Owls to the west of here, who have been nesting in a horse chestnut for many years, are still in the park and have four owlets. However, the family are harder to see than in previous years, when they kept to a spot near the nest tree. The male owl remains in the area, but the female and the owlets have been obliged to go farther afield, because a foolish attempt was made to poison the rats in the Leaf Yard where the owls caught much of their food. Now the family may be anywhere in an area half a mile across, and finding them is a matter of luck, especially as they prefer to spend the day in horse chestnut trees, which are already coming into leaf.

The rats, of course, have already returned in force and, lacking their usual predators, will probably be more numerous soon than they were before. The only permanent casualty seems to be the family of Wood Mice who lived under one of the benches.

Last year a pair of Grey Wagtails bred under the small plank bridge at the foot of the waterfall in the Dell, and have been seen there again this year. They and their one surviving offspring range the whole length of the lake.

The pair of Grey Herons who nested on the Serpentine island last year have returned to the same tree. At least two of their young from last year, still largely monochrome grey, are often to be seen, usually around the Long Water.

There are 18 Great Crested Grebes on both lakes, beginning to make nests in their usual off-and-on way, and  four Little Grebes on the Long Water -- one pair in full breeding plumage, the other only beginning to colour up.

A pair of Mute Swans has established a nest on the east side of the Long Water. Other attempts at nesting are going ahead on both lakes, but it is too early to say which sites will succeed.

For some years several people, including myself, have been feeding small birds in the Leaf Yard, mostly along the southern edge. As a result, many of these birds have lost their shyness and will come to the hand. Anyone with a handful of pine kernels or shelled sunflower seeds can feed a Great Tit, and maybe a Blue Tit. Regulars can also attract Coal Tits, Robins and a bold Chaffinch. The local Ring-Necked Parakeets have also got into the game, though they prefer peanuts, both unshelled and shelled.

Now, over to you. Please add your comments on anything interesting you have seen in the park.


  1. I'm really pleased you've started this blog! Thanks for the Little owl information, I'll try to visit soon to see them.

    1. Thanks for being the first to comment. The more people we can get, the better this blog will be.

  2. What a wonderful idea, to start this blog! Cheers from a fellow bird lover from Spain.

  3. Two general comments, Ralph:
    1) I was amazed to read the list of all the birds you have seen in the Park and Gardens. I have not seen nearly so many, over the same number of years, around the whole of the British Isles!
    2) The more I look at your study of the grebe family, with which you open your Blog, the more I believe that you should enter it for some sort of competition - or exhibition. It is a sure winner. Or perhaps you have done so already?

  4. It's not my own list. It's the list of all birds that have been seen and noted by anyone in the park since records began. It was originally on Des McKenzie's blog, and I rescued it when he gave up. It's useful for foreign readers who are not familiar with English names.

    The quality of professional bird photographers' work leaves me at the starting post. All I can say about my pictures is that they are of birds in our park, and that's what they look like.