Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The male Little Owl from the oak tree near the Albert Memorial was on a branch in the place where the owlets have usually been, but there was no sound of owlets. Have they been thrown out to fend for themselves?

The male Little Owl in the chestnut tree near the leaf yard has certainly dumped his owlets, which were a bit older. He was on his favourite branch, more visible than usual because the wind was blowing the leaves out of the way.

The Great Crested Grebe family near the bridge were out on the open water.

The family from the nest near Peter Pan were under a bush beside the Vista, but the male and two chicks showed themselves for a moment.

The Black Swan was paying occasional visits to his adopted cygnet at the Diana fountain landing stage. But mostly he was cruising around idly menacing the Mute Swans. He seems to be becoming more aggressive again, perhaps in defence of the cygnet.

The pigeon-eating Lesser Black-Backed Gull pair were near the Lido with a young gull following them and begging for food. They took no notice of it.

This happened last year too, and I could never work out whether it was really theirs, or just an immature gull trying its luck. But certainly the female hasn't been seen for some time, and may have been nesting somewhere -- possibly even on the Dell restaurant roof.

A young Reed Warbler came out of the reeds near the bridge and posed obligingly. The young ones are not shy, and are much easier to photograph than adults.

A Starling perched on a umbrella at the Lido restaurant , waiting to swoop on leftovers on a vacated table.

A good day for insects. This is a hoverfly, and I thought it was Chrysotoxum cautum, which has no English name. As you can see, it's a wasp mimic.

Update: David Element has identified it as Myathropa florea.

A Common Darter dragon was hunting over the duckweed in the Long Water near the Italian Garden.

I was puzzled by this black dragonfly on the tarmac near the bridge, but think it's a female Black-Tailed Skimmer.

A fine Red Admiral butterfly was resting casually in the middle of a path near the Albert Memorial. People had to step round it.


  1. Hi Ralph, I read your blog every day when I get home from work, I love all the drama that goes on! The photo of the common darter is great - plus, the way the light reflects, it looks like it has two white eyes and a big smiley mouth! I love the juvenile starling with its 'half and half' plumage. I am visiting the park on Friday and would love to see the owls - last year I was very lucky to find the female in the chestnut tree by the leaf yard, but I haven't tried looking for the others. I know it's not guaranteed, but please could you post a link to you location descriptions again, so I can try. I know you get asked a lot, but I can't for the life of me find them in your archive, thank you very much. Nicola

    1. Below are up-to-date directions. But if you are visiting the park on Friday, I can meet you at the south end of the Serpentine bridge at 11.30 am and try to find the owls for you. No guarantees, of course. Just give the word and I'll be there.

      Little Owls 1
      The pair are in a tree near the leaf yard, which is the railed enclosure that has the Peter Pan statue on the east side. The tree is an old, very broken sweet chestnut 50 yards from the middle of the south side of the yard, and it has brambles around its base. View it from the west side. On the left of the trunk, the second thick branch from the bottom has two horizontal slits in it next to the trunk. The upper one is the entrance to the owls' hole.

      (Update: I think the owlets have now been kicked out, and may be anywhere.)

      Little Owls 2
      From the Albert Memorial, walk north towards the statue of Physical Energy. When the path intersects the bicycle track, turn left and walk along the track for 50 yards, to the next path that crosses it. Right on the near left corner of the crossing is a big oak tree. Look left for a nearby plane tree. Between these two trees is another oak tree, and the owls' hole is in this. Stand under the plane tree and look at this oak. The hole is in a big branch sticking out the right hand side a little above horizontally -- a large round hole in a large round bulge in the branch.

      (Update: the owlets are most likely to be found in oak and horse chestnut trees up to 200 yards southwest of here, to the east of the path that leads to Queen's Gate.)

      Little Owls 3
      You will need binoculars. Go to the southeast corner of the square enclosure around the sculpture -- that is, the corner on the path nearest to the bridge. Look up the hill to the old brick buildings on the left of the Magazine. One of them has a chimney. The Little Owls' tree is directly in front of that, and the hole is in the left fork of this Y-shaped tree. It's maybe 60 yards up the hill from the path. Don't step off the path when looking: any movement towards the owl makes it dive into its hole.

      (Update: any of the family may be found in any of this group of tall lime trees, though they are hard to see in the thick leaves.)

    2. Thank you, yes please, that would be great. Unless southern trains ruin my day, I will be there in good time.

    3. Right, I'll meet you at the south end of the Serpentine bridge at 11.30 am.