The male Tawny Owl was back in the place where he has been sitting for the past few days.
But I have to bring you sad news about his mate, who has not been seen since she went into her nest last year. It seems almost certain that she has died. No owlets have appeared, and neither has she. The ornithologist Jeffrey Martin, who is collaborating on a Tawny Owl project with the great Heimo Mikkola, confirms that the male owl's recent behaviour, sitting in a new place higher up the tree and often calling during the daytime, indicates that he has lost his mate and is seeking a new one.
These famous owls were at least 12 years old, maybe as much as 15 -- an exceptional age for a Tawny Owl, to which they were helped by the sheltered conditions and ample mice of Kensington Gardens. They had produced perhaps as many as 50 offspring, a heroic contribution to London wildlife. The female owl will be sadly missed by those who have come to the park to see the couple, and by their friends all over the world.
At least now there should always be owls somewhere in the park, and if we are lucky we shall be able to see them and follow their lives.
One of the Little Owls appeared in the usual chestnut tree. It must have been the male, because he stood staring at me for some time. His mate would have rushed into the hole in the tree as soon as I appeared.
There was a pair of Blackcaps on the east side of the Long Water, with the male singing loudly. There was another warbler with him that I carelessly assumed was his mate ...
... but it has now been pointed out to me that it was a Chiffchaff, which I ought to have noticed.
The pair of Great Crested Grebes occupying the wire basket full of fish near the bridge have become so adamant in their possession that they didn't budge even when a Cormorant arrived and started diving right in front of them.
The Grey Heron at the Dell Restaurant has also become very bold. Here he begs for food from a family on a bench ...
... and wins a madeleine.