Saturday, 6 February 2016

Dipping the owls at Kensington Gardens

I had every intention of staying home today but after reading Ralph Hancock's excellent blog from yesterday, I knew I had to visit Kensington Gardens and have a search for the owls.
 
Ralph got a fantastic photo of both of the Little Owls peering out of the newest found nest tree by the Albert Memorial. Despite visiting the tree three times today, this was all that I got to see.....
 
 
An empty hole.
 
I also checked the other Little Owl nest tree near the Leaf Litter yard, but had no luck there either.
 
My next quest was to find the new tree that Ralph thinks the Tawny Owls have moved to, after their old nest branch came crashing down during one of last years storms. With Ralph's directions and photo on his blog yesterday, it didn't take me long to locate the possible new nest tree. And any doubts were cleared up by finding several owl pellets on the ground....


 
As Ralph pointed out in his blog, the other reason they think this is the new nest tree is because of all the downy feathers that have been caught on the wood just below a decent sized hole....

 
Scouring around in the leaf litter I found several feathers, and a bubble of excitement grew inside me when I thought that at least one of them (the most marked one) could be a Tawny....

 
but my bubble was burst when I was told they were feathers from a male Mallard.
Oh well.
 
In the old Tawny nest tree, there was a proper violent kerfuffle going on between some Marmite Parakeets.....
 

 

 
 
Starlings have nested in that same hole before, but I believe they acted with a bit more decorum.
 
All the noise didn't bother the Egyptian Goose that was sat atop the stumpy tree just behind the Tawny's old nest tree.....
 
 
He just watched with mild interest.
 
More pleasant sounding birds were the Robins today. There were loads around, most of them paired up and singing softly from their chosen perches....
 

 
Along the Leaf Litter yard the usual little birds were around hoping for a titbit to eat....
 
 
I found the Black Swan by accident. Just past the Lido Café, he came swimming into view with one of his girlfriends (if you regularly read Ralph's blog you'll know he's become quite attached to two juvenile Mute Swans, and they might be both female)
 
 
They done a synchronised dive for me in the swimming area...

 
Then ate some weed, and drifted off to the other end of the Long Water.
 
As I dipped on the owls, I entertained myself with the gulls.
The Black-headed Gulls are in all sorts of plumage at this time of year.....
 

 
There was a ringed bird on the Solar Shuttle pontoon. It might be one that Ralph has already noted so I will wait to see what he says before bothering to find out more myself.


 
Another Black-headed Gull was eating something that looked very unappetising.....

 
And there was another ringed BHG doing the 'worm dance' on the grass by the Diana Memorial Fountain. Unfortunately I could not get a closer photo of the ring, and when I had a go at approaching a bit nearer, the bird flew off....
 
 
A Common Gull was also doing the 'worm dance' in the same area, but he stopped to loudly announce his presence to anyone who might be interested....



 
Another gull, a juvenile Herring I think, had found a plastic bag and was flying around with it.
I hope it got bored of it and didn't try to eat it....

 
The Coot below had gathered a decent sized clump of leaves, probably to add to it's nest, which was just out of sight behind some reeds...
 
 
There must have been about six or seven Great Crested Grebes around today, none in pairs I might add, but all on their own.....




 
By the Peter Pan statue the usual suspects were bobbing about waiting for food. Pochards and Tufted Ducks still appeal to me, as I never get these on my patch...
 

 
Other birds seen today but not photographed included Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Shoveller, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose and Goldcrest.
I also saw a Kingfisher which flew across the Long Water and disappeared in to a patch of willow opposite the Peter Pan statue.
 
The alien like Butterbur has started to emerge near the Italian Gardens....
 

 
Up by the bridge I found these padlocks on one of the chain links.
Is this part of Kensington Gardens set to become the new Pont des Arts ???
 
 
Last but not least, I managed to add two new birds to my 'Bird Bums' list...
 
Great Crested Grebe bum.....
 
 
and probably my best photo of the day, Long-tailed Tit bum....

 
So I dipped on the owls, but I still found plenty to observe and enjoy.
The weather was probably against me today, blustery and overcast. Thankfully Ralph blog posts every single day, unlike myself, so there's never any danger of missing what is being seen at Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park
Thanks Ralph.
 

Friday, 5 February 2016

A few hours back on the patch....

Although it was a bit overcast today, I've missed being at Cranford Park. My last visit was 17th January but it seems much longer than just a few weeks.
I went straight to the wild beehive in the woods, and again found no honeybees around but the comb still looks intact.....
 
 
However in St Dunstans church yard I found plenty of honeybees and they were all after the succulent pollen of the recently flowering crocuses....





 
There were plenty of crocuses for them to choose from...
 


 
The Snowdrops are also well in to their blooming season, though the biggest spread of them are in 'Hancocks Corner'.....
 

 
There was one particular grave that I wanted to find today. One of the Cranford Park Friends, Ann McNamara, had mentioned that her father, Sgt. Ronald McNamara, is buried here and as she now lives in Australia, she wondered if he had Snowdrops on his grave.
I'm glad to say he does. A whole mature clump of them.....

 
Bluebell leaves are in evidence all over the woods and the church yard. It looks like it's going to be a good display in May...
 

 
On this one log above (which gets surrounded by Bluebells in spring) I found three individual types of fungi...
 
The first is one of my favourites, the 'Eyelash' fungus. You can see just how tiny this little fruiting body is compared to the twenty pence piece...
 


 
There were also some young and old 'King Alfred Cakes'.....
 
 
and one tiny sample of 'Jelly Ears'....

 
They were just on the one log, a favourite perch of mine.
 
Elsewhere around the woods the 'Candlesnuff' fungi that I've been watching over the last few months, is really looking it's best now....
 
 
The below fungi is, I think, 'False Turkey Tail' and doesn't bear the same colouring as the true 'Turkey Tail'...

 
and the colourful monster below is a type of Ganoderma....

 
I'm no moss expert, so couldn't tell you the name of the one below. It just caught my eye today and called out to be photographed....
 
 
Along the River Crane I caught a tantalising glimpse of one of the Little Grebes (back now the water levels have dropped) but couldn't get any photos. There was no sign of either the Little Egret nor the Kingfishers. But I did find some Muntjac droppings, quite fresh, so he/she must have had a nice walk by the river during the night.....
 
 
I was chatting to Yvonne, and petting her dog Janie, when a Kestrel flew past us and perched near by. It was nice to be able to point it out to Yvonne.
It stayed there for some time, allowing me to grab a couple of half decent photos in the gloomy light....


 
It then flew off and settled in another tree which allowed me to take a closer look at its plumage. I thought at first the bird was a female, but looking again at my photos I think this is a juvenile male. The tail feathers in the photo above clinch it for me but I've had to ask for help from the UK Bird ID facebook page, so this post may be edited in a few hours if I'm wrong......hahaha


 
It hasn't yet got it's steel grey head feathers.
 
To end todays blog post is a couple of photos of the delightful Janie. I've not had a doggie pic on my blog for ages.
So here she is.......
What a little character.