Monday, 25 November 2013

There were few people in Kensington Gardens. The Tawny Owls, who must have been slightly disturbed by the throng of admirers yesterday, were catching up on their sleep and didn't stir a feather. This is the male.

The female Little Owl emerged briefly, but I approached incautiously and she fled into her hollow tree.

It was time to do the monthly bird count. Many birds have been driven away from the noisy site of the dismal Winter Wonderland funfair: I only saw one small bird in the Dell, a Great Tit. Others are attracted to the rumpus, such as the Mute Swans who know that people will feed them, and the Feral Pigeons, assured of rich pickings from discarded snacks.

The saddest casualty of the constant disturbance of this area is the flock of Song Thrushes that used to live in the trees at the south end of the Parade Ground. The last time I saw any of them, several years ago, it was on the central reservation of Park Lane, which is noisy and filthy but has grass and trees and -- most importantly -- is mostly closed to people.

However, in Kensington Gardens a Song Thrush was singing loudly from the top of a holly tree near the bridge. They have been remarkably vocal recently.

The flock of Starlings on Buck Hill seems to have grown.

They spend most of their time clustered in three tall trees near the Italian Garden, but every now and then a mysterious signal will pass through the flock and they will all leap into the air and settle on the berry-laden rowan trees, or charge off in the opposite direction to see if anyone is feeding the waterfowl on the Round Pond.

Also on Buck Hill, there was a Green Woodpecker.

A pair of these has often been seen and heard around the martial arts bandstand, though I have seen no evidence that they have bred here.

A Grey Heron was standing on the peak of the roof of the Dell restaurant, looking rather like an old-fashioned whaler in a boat waiting to harpoon his prey.


  1. lovely shot of the green woodpecker ralph. thanks. i love their colouring. and i've leaned now often the best place to see them is on the ground foraging for ants etc rather than in the trees. god knows what the birds must make of the winter wonderland. it's absolute chaos. wait till the music fires up!
    Mark W2

    1. Yes, when they are in a tree, as soon as you approach them they go round to the back of the trunk or fly away. They're quite right to be shy, of course.

  2. Is there not a worry that with all the attention and distubance the Tawny Owls may seek a quieter home ?

    1. They've put up with it for ten years, so I'm not very worried. In the past two years they have taken their owlets to places some way from the nest. But even this may not be significant: last year it was easily explained by the cold weather and a need to shelter in an evergreen tree.