Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull seems to have a family, seen here in the pair's favourite place on the roof of the Dell restaurant. At first I found this hard to believe, as he hasn't been absent from his usual places for more than a couple of days at a time. But we haven't seen his mate recently, so it is perfectly possible. The deep yellow legs of the male are unmistakable.

I wonder where they nested. It might even have been the roof of the restaurant, since Lesser Black-Backs and Herring Gulls, which are ground nesters in the wild, have adapted easily to roofs.

The Great Crested Grebe family on the Serpentine have returned to the island where there nest was. They were doing quite well, catching three little fish in five minutes, one for each chick.

A pair of Coal Tits often seen near the bridge may have a nest in one of the yew bushes. They were picking up food at a great rate and always carrying it to the same place.

On the other side of the path, a Song Thrush came out during a bright spell to sunbathe.

In the nearby reed bed, a Reed Warbler was doing the same in its own fashion. They are really only comfortable when holding on to reed stems, so this is as near as a Reed Warbler gets to a relaxed pose.

The numerous young Starlings at the Round Pond are growing spotted iridescent adult feathers to replace their juvenile brown.

One of the pair of Green Woodpeckers from the Vista was on a birch tree near the leaf yard.

I think it's always the same pair that we see anywhere between the Queen's Temple and the Tawny Owls' tree.

The male Little Owl disliked the windy morning and didn't come out on to his favourite branch till 4 pm.

Charlie and Melissa the Carrion Crows' two offspring have started taking peanuts, rather than waiting for their parents to feed them. They are still having trouble opening the shell, something an adult crow can do with half a dozen swift pecks.


  1. Ralph, I'd appreciate your advice on a matter regarding owls. When searching for pictures of a particular owl, I notice that sometimes some photos show 'ears' and some do not. I wonder why this might be.

    Is it a gender difference, or a seasonal difference, or an ability on the part of the owl to raise and lower its 'ears' - or just pictures badly labelled and actually showing different owls?

    The owl I was looking at images of was the Western screech owl (Megascops kennicottii) - admittedly not a species likely to appear in the Thames Valley any time soon!

    Thank you.

    1. Yes, owls with ear tufts can raise and lower them at will. Some, such as Long-Eared Owls and the various Scops owls, can raise their ear tufts vertically to make them blend into the vertical striations on the bark of the tree they are in.

    2. Fascinating. In fact everything about birds is fascinating eg just discovered the story behind eclipse plumage. Now it makes sense. Thanks a lot Ralph.

  2. Not *directly relevant, but I hope of interest - I was in the Park last night (good views of the ♀ little owl, and a pair of reed warblers singing with their mouths full of crickets in the reed-beds near the Lido) and met two Royal Parks rangers from Richmond Park who were there with a TV crew, the former doing a bat survey, which will be part of a documentary made by the latter for German TV (though possibly to be shown here as well). ((My back view might appear in it - ah, immortality!)) Apparently there should be 5 or 6 species of bat in the Park. Perhaps Ralph might get a report from the rangers - and share some nice, entirely black photographs...

    Harry G.

    1. Bats are difficult. You can hardly see them and can't hear them at all, and if you want to find them in Kensington Gardens you have to climb in over the railings because the place is shut after dark. Good luck to the researchers, but it's beyond me.

  3. I've often seen Pipistrelle bats at twilight in Kensington Gardens, but,as Ralph so rightly says, you don't exactly get a good look at them. However I did go on a guided walk once where we were given echo-locators to hear them and we were lucky enough to get visual contact with a noctule bat or two over the Serpentine. If anybody's interested there are a couple of walks coming up in August and September:

    I think 5 species is a bit optimistic.