Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ice Walkers (Part 2)

So Mallard are designed to swim, dabble and waddle......but how do they cope on ice?

First I get a foot carefully onto the ice....then

I push my body forward onto the ice.

Keeping my weight well distributed....

It's time to push up with the feet.

And then I'm up and walking but be careful it is slippery!

For images of Mrs Mallard on the ice, click here for "Not Dancing on Ice".

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Ice Walkers (Part 1)

During my recent visit to the park with most of the water frozen it was interesting to see how different species cope with these conditions. The first in this series is the Coot who has no difficulty in walking on the ice.

Those large lobed feet are definitely better than snow shoes.

Once out of the water I noticed that it often stood on its own toes!

The second shoreline visitor was a Moorhen.

So easy to tell these species apart just by their feet.

I have some more species who were not quite so comfortable 'walking on ice' to show you soon.  FAB

Monday, 28 December 2009

Red-crested Pochard

During my recent park visit I was fortunate to catch up with a pair of Red-Crested Pochard (Netta rufina) that are regular migrants to UK in autumn and winter.

The male, in breeding plumage is very distinctive with its white flanks, coral-red bill plus the rusty-orange head which is paler on the crown compared to the more numerous Common Pochard (Aythya ferina). Unfortunately this male didn't want to come too close but his partner was far more inquisitive.

The female is easily distinguised by its rounded head, red eye and pinkish tip to the bill.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Wildlife in the Park.

Last week I made a return visit to Richmond Park on a very cold and icy morning. My stroll started through one of the enclosures mainly planted with rhododendrons; the branches hanging low over the dark and muddy path so I had to duck and dive my way forward.
I exited into a wooded area with the constant sounds overhead of Parakeets squawking and Jackdaws 'kyack..kyack..kyacking' as they moved from treetop to treetop. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers appeared but only one of them rested briefly above for a moment or two.
A Wren sang out and quickly disappeared deep into the brown bracken. I spied a Meadow Pipit on a
distant perch while attempting to capture these Parakeets high above me.
Then the silhoutte of a Blackbird and a Jackdaw.
No evidence yet of nest inspection but I bet this hole will provide a comfy location next spring.
A misty view across the frosty common as I started to walk towards the ponds trying to maintain my equilibrium on the icy pathway while admiring the shapes of the dead trees still reaching for the sky.
Not totally surprising, most of the water was frozen apart from a small area where Coot, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Pochard and a pair of Red-Crested Pochard plus the Gulls were hanging out. Now to find a safe spot to take some photos.
A family arrived nearby and started throwing small pieces of ice across the frozen pond towards the wildlife who were not impressed. Then the family started shouting at their very large dog who had walked out onto the ice. I was so gobsmacked, waiting for the inevitable to happen, that I forgot to take any pictures! Fortunately the dog eventually responded to its owners pleading calls and gingerly returned across the creaking ice to firmer ground and then they departed.
During this interlude a young man arrived and after a brief verbal exchange we both settled into our firing postions just as another family arrived and their daughter asked "Is it alright to feed the ducks?" We looked at one could we refuse and the Coots quickly responded by making there way towards us.
This actually enabled us both to get a few close ups as many of the Coots and then a single Moorhen headed for the shoreline plus Mallard and Black-headed Gulls slipping and sliding on the ice.
After a brief chat with Ganesh, my new companion, we headed for the smaller pond which was practically all frozen over. Shoveller and Mallard occupied the only free piece of water.
More ice-walkers were a Mute Swan and this Egyptian Goose who promptly joined his mate on the grassy slope quite close to us.
I then suggested that we head uphill to track down the small group of Red Deer stags peacefully lying on the grassland above the pond. We spent some time slowly moving in closer to get some decent shots despite the darkening sky and the hint of rain in the air.
Red Deer - I have lots, lots more pics that I will share in a future post.
Checking my watch, it was time for us to return to the car park so we walked and talked on the return journey. If you get to read this Ganesh, I enjoyed your company and wish you well for the future and your search for suitable employment.  FAB

Friday, 25 December 2009

Fresh Air.

This is the quiet, desolate, icy scene that greeted me on a stroll earlier this week around one of my local patches. Not a sign of any activity anywhere.

Does it look safe enough to walk on? ... I don't think I'll test it.

Not even a breeze to caress the fingers of the leafless Birches that dominate my skyward view. I hear the faint 'kick...kick' sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and then much closer the noisy, harsh 'kraa..kraa' calls from a number of Carrion Crows. I turn away from my intened course to follow these sounds into the dark woodland just in case there is an Owl or raptor around who is not welcome but after a few minutes the calls cease. I wait patiently and scan around but find now retrace my steps.

Back on track I head uphill, walking slowly, trying to reduce the sound of crunching ice with every placement of my boots, intently listening and looking for any sign of life.

The only evidence of those who came before me is their frozen footprints

Nearing the top of the rise I spot a pair of Jays and stealthily commence my approach...could this be the day for some decent photos? The sound of human voices penetrates the quiet air and a family of four appear over to my right, totally oblivious of my existence, they head downhill chatting loudly and then shouting after their young charges that have run off ahead. I am invisible to my own species but the Jays have responded by moving on so I continue on my chosen route.

It's only 2 p.m. but the moon is clearly visilble but nothing flies across my line of sight.

As I change my heading the stillness is broken by the unmistakeable chatty clicking calls of Long Tailed Tits. High up above a party of at least 15 individuals flit from perch to perch, often dangling upside down as they hunt for tiny morsels. They are moving on very quickly so I only manage one passable shot.

During the final part of my stroll I see Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren and Magpie. Back at the pond the sound of my footsteps disturbs a Moorhen that promptly hides in the reeds.

Maybe next time there will be more wildlife activity to enjoy but at least the fresh air was good.  FAB

Thursday, 24 December 2009

SkyWatch Friday

A pre-Christmas walk in the park on a very cold and icy morning.

I will post more about this stroll once I have sorted through the photos of wildlife 'walking on water'!

For more SkyWatch images click the link here or in the sidebar.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Me and my shadow.

Continuing the seasonal theme. While working indoors today, I spied our resident Robin 'Redbreast' waiting for a vacant perch on one the feeders and casting a reflection on the wall so I took a few quick snaps through the window just for fun.

Still a few tasks to complete before Christmas, but in the meantime many, many thanks for all the seasonal messages from my blogger friends.  FAB

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Happy Christmas.

Since I started blogging at the beginning of this year I never, in my wildest dreams, anticipated how my life would change; making so many friends around the globe; fortunate to have met a few in person and enjoyed a stroll in their company watching wildlife; and many I would love to share some time with if the opportunity ever presents itself.  So to all my "The Early Birders" and  everyone else who may pass by I wish you all a

and a
fun packed 2010 full of wildlife experiences.

For those that specifically asked (Lynne and Mona) the display above the fireplace was eventually created ( FAB himself) from the odds and ends that Anita and I collected during our recent walk plus a few other items from around the house.

I wonder what might be hiding under the tree, but no peeking allowed!    See you all very soon. FAB

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Today's Foray!

After a brief local shopping excursion with A to purchase some card making supplies I honoured a promise to collect some foliage for a small display she wants to create. So, well wrapped up, we headed off on a stroll around the local patch.

As you can see there is still a bit of snow around but nothing like our friends are experiencing in the eastern counties.

Horses in their overcoats happily grazing in the paddocks.

We collected the necessary greenery and a few berries with a Great Spotted Woodpecker tap, tap, tapping overhead, and then headed for the warmth of home. Not a lot of avian activity (it was mid-afternoon) but we did see Magpies, Carrion Crows, Blackbird and a Fieldfare on the open fields. A small flock of 15 Lapwings flew over plus a number of Black-headed Gulls were circling around. Flitting through the hedgerows were Great Tits, Blue Tits and a Robin.

As we approached the bottom of the baren field a Grey Heron was disturbed by the constant squawking of Parakeets and promptly flew away through the woodlands before we could get really close.

Activity in and around the garden feeders has been very frenetic today with Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Greenfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, a single Coal Tit, Robin, Dunnock and last but not least the daily presence of a number of very greedy Rose-ringed Parakeets.

Have a good weekend everyone, wherever you are.  FAB


Related Posts with Thumbnails