Sunday, 3 June 2007

River views and mandarin ducks

View along the river bank close to Taggs Island

After the cold and wet weather of last weekend we decided to take advantage of the warm sunshine and get out in our boat. We go out most evenings when the weather's fine if only for a breath of fresh air. This is a lovely stretch of river with some attractive views and we never tire of travelling up and down it. There's always something different to see, whether it's the wildlife, the boats or various friends we pass by.

We like to go out after 6pm when there's much less river traffic and everything takes on a tranquil air. Sometimes we stop off at a friend's house or invite friends to come with us. It's a relaxing way of catching up with what's been happening locally.

Garrick's temple and lawn, just upstream from our island

The actor/manager, David Garrick built a temple and gardens to celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare in 1756. It was restored to its former glory in 1998/1999 and is now open to the public. The attractive octagonal building and gardens are a great asset to this stretch of the River Thames.

A male mandarin duck in moult

This, formerly fine looking specimen has already lost its fine chestnut 'sails' and part of its crest and eventually will be virtually indistinguishable from its mate.

A male mandarin duck (left) in mating plumage. Eventually he will look like his female partner on the right

The fervour of the breeding season is beginning to lessen. Some of the drakes (male ducks) have started moulting and are going into eclipse. Eventually the mallards and madarins males will look like their female counterparts.

Bidou, the black swan, has abandoned her eggs so we can only assume that they were infertile. Also, Golden Eye laid two eggs in our plant pot and has now abandoned them.

We do have a surprise nest with seven eggs! We have an old tyre, tied horizontally to our hull so that it's like a rubber raft, on which a pair of coots have built a ramshackle nest. It's right outside our bedroom window and I can assure you that coots can be quite active and noisy at night!

A few years ago we had a similar situation and one morning, when I woke up, I peeped out of the window at the nest and was able to watch several baby coots fight their way out of their egg shells with the help of an adult while I lay in bed.

Enough for now. Don't forget you can double click on any image if you want to enlarge it and if you click on the "subscribe" button at the bottom of the blog you'll receive the latest news when I update the site. Of course, there's no charge.

No comments: