Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Kingfisher was on his favourite branch in the dead willow tree near the Italian Garden.

But a minute later he was disturbed by some Jackdaws which arrived in the tree and started ripping off the bark to look for insects underneath.

He flew down the east side of the lake and into the shore just beyond the reed bed. Paul has seen him going into this place more than once, and thinks there might be a nest hole here. If so, it makes a mockery of the effort to build a Kingfisher nest site at the Vista. Construction on this ambitious project has stalled anyway, and large wooden boards are lying around neglected. To be used, it would have to be finished soon.

The white-faced Blackbird perched in the small tree next to the willow, which is also dead. It has very peculiar bark, and I don't know whether it was like this when the tree was alive, or is some kind of encrustation that grew after it died.

A Robin perched lower in the same tree. Both birds were expecting to be fed, and of course they were.

The male Song Thrush in the leaf yard was in full song at the top of a tree, in spite of the grey chilly day. This one in the bushes nearby is probably his mate.

One of the Nuthatches in the leaf yard came down to take food from the railings.

So did a Coal Tit. There seems to be only one of these in the leaf yard. We all hope it finds a mate and they hatch more of these charming tiny birds.

There also seems to be only one Dunnock in the Rose Garden, but you never know with these unobtrusive birds. There was a male Dunnock here last year, singing his beautiful song.

The returfing work on the Parade Ground has now extended down the hill, frightening away the Redwings and other migrant thrushes, and also the Pied Wagtails. One of these was on the edge of the Serpentine looking for insects in a crack in the tarmac.

One of the Grey Herons at the island was gathering twigs for its nest. It landed on a very thin branch which swayed precariously, and had to flap to keep its balance.

A Mute Swan came down on the lake and water-skied to a halt.

Others were grazing on the grassy bank in the Lido swimming area, trying hard to impress each other.

The female Little Owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial was preening.

The one in the lime near the Henry Moore sculpture was just looking down. It's a long day for Little Owls waiting for the people to go away so that they came come down and hunt for worms and beetles on the ground.


  1. Perhaps the dead tree is a young Winged elm (Ulmus alata).

  2. Great photos as usual Ralph. I think the tree the Blackbird is perched on is a Winged Elm (Ulmus alata), which is native to North America; the spongy ridges are quite normal and seen less pronounced on several other Elm species.

    Regards, Neil

    1. Thank you both. Shame it didn't thrive here. The adjacent willow tree died suddenly and mysteriously, so clearly there is something wrong with this spot.

  3. Hi Ralph,

    Many thanks for your help yesterday in the park re spotting the Little Owl in the lime near the Henry Moore sculpture. Your oral directions were spot on and I got really good views. You are a star!

    However, there was a disappointing aftermath to my viewing. After I had been there for 7 or 8 mins, with good views at a respectable distance, a guy marched past me, went almost up to the tree, and tried to take a photo. The Owl glared at him then disappeared into the recess. If I had come 10 mins later than I did, I would have missed it. Even more to the point, however, the guy should not have been so selfish and thoughtless, making the owl stressed enough to abandon a perch it had been on all day(you told me). What an idiot he was!

    1. Yes, that owl is still quite shy, though less so than last year when she would rush into the hole if you stepped off the path. She will now tolerate me, because I photograph her every time I see her and she has learnt that it doesn't have dire consequences. But she is still bothered by people she doesn't recognise, and in particular by more than one person approaching her at once. One vital hint: if you are looking at her through binoculars, hold your hand above the lenses to shield them from the light. If she sees the glitter of two big owl-like eyes, she will instantly freak out.