Sunday, 5 May 2013

Two Red Kites were reported flying over the park this morning. It would be wonderful if these beautiful birds returned to London in reasonable numbers. They were the principal scavengers of London at least up to the 17th century, and are mentioned several times by Shakespeare. 'When the kite builds, look to your lesser linen,' he wrote, referring to their habit of stealing small items for washing hung out to dry to make a lining for their nests. Their role has now been taken over by Carrion Crows. These urban scavengers are very useful, keeping the streets clear of rotting food.

There was also a report of a Spotted Flycatcher hunting over the Long Water.

The female Tawny Owl and one of the owlets were visible in the usual horse chestnut tree.

Probably the rest of the owlets were in the same tree hidden by the leaves. There was a sighting of the elusive male owl yesterday. He is very hard to find, since he likes to sit close up against the trunk of a tree and sleep peacefully until sunset.

The male Little Owl made a brief appearance this morning until he was driven in by the gathering Sunday crowds of humans.

The crowd of Egyptian Geese that used to assemble on the fenced-off area of scrubby grass at the east end of the Serpentine have been pushed out, probably because the pair with four young are defending their patch. They have no quarrel with the Mute Swans nesting there, only with their own kind. So the mob has dispersed a short way along the south shore, and are busy grazing and displaying and bickering and, in this case, having a good wash.

Pied Wagtails often hunt for insects on the mossy tiles of the roof of the small boathouses.

They have no difficulty running about on the steeply sloping surface. Occasionally they leap into the air to snatch a passing insect in flight.

This splendid picture of a Green Woodpecker in flight was taken by Paul Sawford.

I think that the white blobs on the tree trunk are coagulated sap that has oozed from a wound in the bark.


  1. or it could be slime mold (Enteridium lycoperdon), of which I've seen quite a lot this spring.

    1. Quite a lot of trees have this white ooze on them, anyway. Lycoperdon (= wolf's fart, cf. French pet-de-loup) is also the genus of a lot of puffballs, including Lycopodon giganteum, the giant puffball, found in Kensington Gardens in the autumn and perfectly edible though not enormously interesting.