I've been following Tony Ducketts blog (Regents Park Birds Blog) for some time now. He writes up all the Regent Park, Bushy Park and Richmond Park bird sightings. Over the last few weeks a Tawny Owl has been showing quite well at Regents Park, so I decided to take a trip down there today.
I didn't plan my day too well though. Due to my shoulder still not being 100% back to normal, and after over doing it last weekend, I had decided only to spend half a day out instead of my usual full days outing. And it seems I chose the wrong half of the day. The morning was overcast with brief spells of sunshine, which meant a lot of my photos weren't as bright as I would have liked them.
I found the location of the Tawny very quickly thanks to Tonys directions on his blog, and realised fairly quickly that my photos were not going to be good due to the direction of the sun. The Tawny really is best viewed in the afternoon, or at least when there's a bit of sunlight, so I decided to go and get a coffee while I waited for the blessed yellow globe to appear.
Perched outside the Garden Café I saw a man with a camera intently crouched down on the grass snapping away. Me, being the nosey person that I am, slowly tiptoed over and was amazed to see a male Green Woodpecker tantalising close. At times he was hopping to within twelve feet. The photographer and myself got chatting, and it turns out he knows of my blog via Ralph Hancock kindly linking it on the Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park blog.
So, a big thank you and nice to meet you today Eric.
After coffee, I made my way back to the Tawny Owls tree. The sun had come out briefly, but my photos were still dark. Spot the owl below.
It also didn't help that although you could see the bird clearly without bins, taking a decent focused photo was near on impossible due to various twigs in the way. The tree itself is on a bit of land that is off limits to the public, so the only way to get a photo is to try different positions on the Longbridge. As I was shuffling along trying to get the best angle, I noticed a man with a camera walking past the tree. It could only be one person, Tony Duckett, who I knew from talking to Eric, has access to the parts of the park that are off limits. I swiftly approached him as he was locking the gate, and begged and pleaded and asked nicely if I could possibly be given the chance of going on to the forbidden land to grab a photo, and he agreed. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone though, Tony's a very busy man, and the owl isn't as used to people as the Kensington Gardens owls are.
For a few precious minutes I took photos of the owl, but the angle wasn't good for my shoulder, so the result wasn't as good as I had hoped for.....
But thank you anyway Tony.
He also showed me the area where the resident Kestrels have been showing well. When we got there, both the male and female were visible but not photographable, so I decided to stick around and see if they would be more obliging. While waiting I had a walk around. As of all the Royal Parks, Ring-necked Parakeets are numerous here too.
and there was a gorgeous male Pintail on the lake. There is a captive bird collection here, so I'm not sure if this duck is one of them or not.
My patience for the Kestrels finally paid off, and I spent a while admiring the female, before the male was even more obliging and perched at head height, for which my shoulder was grateful.
Making my way back home I had to visit the Herony. A lot of the huge nests were lost in the recent December storms, but a few still remain, and the Herons are daily adding more sticks to them.
There was a solo Great Crested Grebe on the main lake, along with hundreds of Coots.
So not a bad day out to somewhere I've only briefly visited before. I will definitely go again however, if only to see the Kestrels. It was really nice to meet Eric and Tony, and also Sue and her dog Socks.