Thursday, 6 February 2014

Another dismal wet day, but at least the male Tawny Owl had come out again, and was in his usual place, a bit rain-spotted but perfectly comfortable.

There was a brisk Coot fight near the Italian Garden, in which at one time five birds were involved.

You never see what starts these fights. There are just some Coots swimming around, and the next moment mayhem breaks loose.

A Moorhen was searching for something edible among the floating leaves on the edge of the Serpentine.

Heaven knows what it found there, but Moorhens will eat absolutely anything.

A pair of Red Crested Pochards brought some much needed colour to the grey scene.

While I was at the owl tree, I met some people who wanted to see the owl, and lent them my binoculars. And one of them, called Jabir, told me a remarkable story. A few months ago he was in Wimbledon, and as he approached a bus shelter he saw a bird under it. At first he thought it was a Sparrowhawk. But in fact it was a falcon. And he took a video of it on his iPhone, from which this is a still.

You can see the whole video here.

It's hard to be sure from this angle what this typical grey falcon is. Compared with the bus shelter it doesn't look large enough to be a Peregrine, though of course male Peregrines are much smaller than females, and it might be one. My guess is that it's a Hobby -- the video was made before these had left for Africa.

It was injured, and unable to fly away. So he did exactly the right thing. He threw his coat over it and bundled it up so that it would not hurt itself further, and took it straight to the Blue Cross at Colliers Wood.
'I've got a bird of prey here,' he said.
'Whaa ...?'
'A bird of prey.'
'A bird of what?'
But when he unwrapped it, everything became clear. The falcon was not seriously injured, so they took it to London Wildcare at Beddington, where it was expected to make a full recovery and be released to get on with its life.


  1. A reassuring story about the rescue of the falcon and lovely study of the pair of Pochards. Hope you did not get too wet.

  2. Thanks -- I got absolutely saturated, but it was worth it.

  3. Well done Jabir for saving the bird of prey; bit alarming that they didn't know what that was at the vets'...

  4. Yellow eyes and long tail compared to the projection of the wings - definitely a sparrowhawk.

    1. No trace of white superciliar stripe in the rather blurred pictures. The bird sanctuary described it as a 'Kestrel', about the one common bird of prey it couldn't possibly be.

    2. I was thinking a male without much of a supercillium, such as the one pictured here ( which shows similar wing/tail proportions. You can see the yellow eyes in the video, which rules out a falcon.