Sunday, 12 October 2014

An overdue visit to Kensington Gardens

After visiting Richmond Park a couple of days ago, today I was off to another Royal Park, this time it was Kensington Gardens in west London.
Ralph Hancock's daily blog posts from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park always inspire me (link to Ralphs blog here) and recently he's seen both the resident Tawny and Little Owls. I got my 'deer fix' on Friday so today I was hoping to get my 'owl fix'.
Foolishly I didn't google the park first and when I arrived there were cordons up and notices everywhere warning about the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon......
Some of the paths I couldn't cross unless I actually jogged along with the runners and zig-zagged my way across........which I did.......twice ! So if anyone saw a red-faced puffing and panting semi-jogging woman dressed all in khaki with binoculars bouncing off her chest and a camera slung over her shoulder with a rucksack on her back, that was me ! I don't 'do' jogging but fair play to everyone I saw running. A lot of money for many well deserved charities was raised today. Just rather you than me !!!

By the afternoon though the park was accessible again in all areas.
So back to my 'owl fix', did I get it ? Well yes and no. I found both the male and female Little Owl, and the male Tawny Owl, fairly easily. However trying to photograph them was more than a little challenging. On my last few outings the weather has been kind and the light for photography has been great. Today it was mainly overcast so trying to photograph an owl against a white cloudy sky was not good. It didn't help that for most of the day the male Little Owl was partially hidden by branches, the female Little Owl could only be seen from behind and the male Tawny Owl was mostly hidden by leaves. So here's the best of what I could photograph today.........
Watching me watching him watching me. Mr Little Owl.

That streaked blob in the middle of the picture is the male Little Owl.

Side angle shot of Mr Little Owl.

This would have been a half decent photo of Mr LO if I hadn't had to lighten it so much !
And believe it or not, that brown blob in the middle of the leaves is the male Tawny Owl.
I got no photos at all of the female Little Owl, the only view I had of her was her back. And there was no sign of the female Tawny Owl, but that's not unusual.
I will be paying another visit in December when the leaves have dropped and visibility is much better.
Elsewhere around the park I witnessed my first ever views of a marmite Parakeet (you either love them or you hate them) actually on the deck. I have seen them on feeders, on trees, even being fed by hand, but I have never seen one on the ground before.
Like Cranford Park, Kensington Gardens has a large population of marmite Parakeets, but you get much better views of them at this Royal Park as they so used to us human beans. The one below was picking out the sweet chestnuts from their prickly casings before the fruits could fall to the ground.

The Grey Squirrel below was also doing the same.
Around the leaf litter yard the smaller birds were happily following whoever might have some seeds to feed them with, which made for some lovely close up views.
Great Tit

By the Peter Pan statue area I heard a Kingfisher calling but couldn't locate it.
Cormorants and Black-headed gulls were topping all the posts going across the water.
There were several Shovellers around but they were too distant for me to photograph, but the Common Pochards were a bit more obliging, especially one of the males.
One of the drake Mandarin ducks came very close and then started displaying to a nearby female. I love the way they extend their necks so took several photos. I couldn't decide which of the two pictures below I liked the best, so as its my blog I decided to publish both.

By the Lido café a young Lesser Black-backed Gull was playing with a stick.
and a pair of Greylag Geese were passing each other a very soggy leaf.

So is this behaviour 'playing' or practising for the mating season when birds often present their chosen partners with little 'gifts' ?
By the bridge I lost an hour watching a young Great Crested Grebe and an adult bird, fishing for titbits in amongst the weighted down 'cages'. I know from previous visits that these 'cages' are great hiding places for small fishes and crayfishes, but despite observing the two birds for some time I didn't see them catch anything at all.

So not a bad day really, but I'd have liked better views of the Owls. A trip back when the leaves have fallen will rectify that.
It was nice to see Ralph again. The man is a wealth of information about the birds on his patch and I learn something new every time I have the fortune of chatting with him.
Lastly yesterday I popped over to see my Mum, and was gobsmacked to physically see her wince whilst she was reading my last blog post. Apparently my grammar isn't too great, but to be honest I always thought both my grammars were lovely women.
So to satisfy my Mum I've gone through this blog post with a fine eye aided by 'spellcheck'. Hope it meets to everyones satisfaction :)


  1. Nice blog Wendy. I would have paid just to see you jogging

  2. Nice blog Wendy. I would have paid just to see you jogging

  3. Great blog and photos. I am imagining you 'jogging' with all your gear on! Especially love the Mandarin and the young GC Grebe as well as the marmite.

  4. Lovely Blog and pictures are great..

  5. do you just call them Marmite Parakeets as a Euphemism or is this an accepted alternative name for Ring Necks ?