Saturday, 16 May 2009

New Life on the ponds.

The weather this morning was drab with rain in the air so I knuckled down to the important chores - checking e-mails, catching up with answering blog comments and reading other blog posts - then rechecking the weather forecast.

Around midday with the wind still blowing strongly I drove over to Epsom Common not expecting to see a great deal but the walk in the fresh air would no doubt brighten my spirits. As I approached the stew pond I disturbed a mother Mandarin Duck with seven ducklings. (Note that the markings around the eye are totally different to a Mallard). Whilst breeding this is a very secretive species so I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the mother, as she escorted her charges to cover on the other side of the pond. For the next 30 minutes I carefully attempted to get closer pictures without success as mum was keeping the little ones safely out of sight. However she did come out of hiding when a family group of Canada Geese floated nearby. She flew behind the group, calling, and acting as a decoy she encouraged the Canada Geese to turn around. She then flew off away from the water and I didn't see her return. Next up was a Mallard chick attempting to face down the "Early Birder"!
On the other side of the pond I was entertained by Canada goslings feeding on the pathway. Interesting that the parents were not upset by my presence. Can you see my mirror image?
I'm far to busy feeding to pose for a portrait!
Then it was off to the Great Pond. Mallard, Tufted Duck (male & female), Coot, Moorhen, Canada Geese, Grey Herons and a pair of Swifts flew overhead. I also spotted two more Mandarin females, each with 6 or seven chicks in tow but a long way away. Then a male Mandarin Duck made a brief appearance to protect one of the family groups from a Mallard that was getting too close. The question was would he come closer to me so I could get a decent photo.Well after a 20 minute wait the male Mandarin eventually re-appeared on the closest island about 100 yards away and this is the result using the DSLR & 70-300 lens. I had not taken a tripod but my Swaro scope was in the rucksack so could I get a decent digi-scoped shot. Well you will have to be patient and wait for a subsequent post.
After leaving the ponds I saw and or heard Greenfinch, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Wren, Blackbird, Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinch, Jay, Carrion Crow, Magpies, Jackdaw, Great-spotted Woodpecker calling and a Black-headed Gull flew over. On the Ashtead side of the common there was evidence of heavy felling of trees.

Plus some very extensive 'top pruning'! Looks like a twisted road sign, but which way?

Then I spotted this interesting tree - a ready made seat or the rear end of a prehistoric animal? DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER SUGGESTION?
My last sighting was this male Roe Deer resting in the grass. Now I wonder if this is the same male that the 'watcher' encountered on 24th April. See 'Chance Encounter with a Roe Buck'.
I have some further images of this beautiful beast that I will share with you soon.


  1. Great pics !!
    Love the new chicks, so sweet !! :)

  2. Despite the weather, seems you had a good day Frank.
    Great shot of the Mallard chick coming at ya!
    Plenty of young new life about now, which is good to see.
    Look forward to seeing more of the 'Roe'; don't see many round here.

  3. Sweet chicks. It's so nice to see new life in the spring.

  4. Fantastic blog, congratulations!

    Best wishes,

  5. have a lot to digest today! The little Mallard chick is priceless. Enlarged it is so cute! The goslings are precious. I'm sure they would entertain me all afternoon. I also love listening to their little peeps. Wonderful deer photo. It's always fun stumbling across the larger animals in the wild. As for the tree...I was thinking of a giant trying to pull his toes out of a large wad of sticky bubble gum.

  6. A windy, but productive, outing indeed Frank. Sounds as though I must discover Epsom common!

    Well done on the Mandarin family. I've never seen any chicks despite seeing Mallards around so often in my local areas!

  7. it was a rubbish weather day wasn't it! Good to see so many breeding birds down your way.

    Why do all those tree's need to be cut down, especially in the breeding season? I'm having the same problem on my patch. Once upon a time this work was all carried out in the winter months.

  8. Well, early birder, we are having a morning as you described in the first part of your post.. I sure hope my afternoon is as exciting as yours was..what a great post!! Don't you love seeing family gatherings!! Such cuties and you got such nice pictures of them!!
    Someone really did go overboard with their prunning plans, did't they?..yikes poor tree!!..and that last pic of a seated tree looks to me a little like a large webbed prehistoric duck foot!!;0 lol

  9. I love all the photos of the baby ducks..They are so fuzzy and cute!! great photos Frank!! Great shot of the deer also!!

  10. bonifer. Welcome & thanks.

    Keith. The circle of life continues, thankfully.

    Jan. More pics of the Deer very soon!

    Lynne. With luck there will be plenty more 'new life' for us to watch & capture.

    Rosana. Thanks for stopping by.

    Kelly. I was torn between the Goslings or searching for the Mandarin chicks so took the easy option. Good description for the 'tree'.

    Tricia. On our doorstep & even I didn't give it a real look until very recently. I see you have now caught up with Mandarin & chicks.

    Warren. I agree. I'm sure they would come up with some excuse as to why now rather than in winter!

    Tina. It's always heart warming to witness new beginnings. I like the idea of 'duck foot'.

    Ginny. Difficult to pass by without getting the camera out.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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