Tuesday, 9 April 2013
No sign of the Tawny Owls in the place where they have been recently. They may have moved. Although the Flower Walk supplies useful cover, it is also full of Crows, Magpies, Jays, Song and Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds, all of which hate owls and make their feelings clear. I went around the area of the owls' nest tree without finding anything there. The Little Owl had been seen briefly in his usual tree, but was not out when I went past.
However, there was plenty to see. Just north of the Tawnies' encampment in the Flower Walk, a pair of Coal Tits are nesting in a small natural hole in an oak tree.
The male has been singing in this area for some time, as are quite a lot of other Coal Tits. Although they are less noticeable in the park than other tits, there is no shortage of them.
I met Des, who had found a singing male Willow Warbler on the west side of the Long Water, flying around mostly at the north end near the Italian Garden. I got a few dark, distant shots of this fast-moving bird, of which this poor effort is the best and will have to do.
Warblers of all kinds will be eating well, because there are lots of small flies all around the lake. Des said that they are St Mark's Fly (Bibio marci), a species named because it usually emerges around St Mark's Day, 25 April. They must be the only creatures that are early this year.
In the shrubbery nearby a very bold Wren was rooting around in the leaf litter. It came within a couple of feet of me.
There is a Wren harem just the other side of the Long Water, so you see quite a lot of these birds.
A pair of Egyptian Geese at the Round Pond have had an early brood, the second this year. Only three survive, not surprisingly in this open and gull-infested area.
There was also a Little Grebe on the Round Pond -- one of two, I think -- fishing in the middle of the pond. We haven't seen any Little Grebes on the Long Water for some time. It is not clear what these birds see in the exposed pond, quite different from their natural habitat of small ponds surrounded by bushes giving cover. But evidently the food on offer makes it worthwhile.
The Redwings are still at the south end of the Parade Ground near the bandstand, and there are still a few Fieldfares with them. Farther to the north, the Northern Wheatear is still rushing around. All these birds are doing well from the disturbance of the ground caused by restoring the grass, which brings up all kings of bugs. There are also some Pied Wagtails here looking for the same thing.