Sunday, 1 June 2008

Newcomers and old favourites

Male Red-Crested Pochard

Preening Pochard

Mr. & Mrs. Red-Crested Pochard

This pair of Red-Crested Pochards have been on the river for about five weeks now and occasionally swim by, but they decided to stop off on our plank last week and were surprisingly tame. I should imagine they're visitors from the Woodland Gardens at Bushy Park.

Male Mandarin duck

This male Mandarin duck is still in fine plumage but one or two of the other male Mandarins that visit are looking decidedly sorry for themselves as they moult and lose their fine feathers.

The missing cygnet

During the week I was upset to discover that our swans only had three cygnets. Later that day, an islander called to say she'd found a cygnet on its own and rescued it. Peter & Addie Bayliff, who are so generous with their time and knowledge of wildlife spent several hours looking for the parents and the rest of the family but couldn't locate them. I was asked if I'd look after the cygnet and reunite it with its siblings the next time the swans visited. Dave and I then got a call to say that the lock keeper at Molesey lock had spotted the swans by the weir so we took the cygnet to the lock in our boat. We carefully made our way down the boat rollers with his help (armed with half a sandwich) and tried to attract the family of swans over to us. The cygnet was calling but the wind carried its calls away from the swans and we were concerned that if we put the cygnet in the river it might not join up with the rest of them. However, the lock keeper's sandwich did the trick and as the cob (male swan) headed over we launched the cygnet. To our relief and delight, they met midstream and then the pen swam over with the other three to join them. It was such a relief and there were hugs all round!

Was this the 'one that got away' for a day?

It's been great to see all four cygnets with mum and dad again and I've tried to work out which one we rescued but it's impossible to tell which was the recalcitrant one.

Grooming time for a Great Crested Grebe

Sorting out its wing feathers

The grebes have continued to use our plank for courtship but less frequently now. We were puzzled by the fact that during mating they reversed roles most days but we have since learned that it's quite common for grebes generally to practice reverse mounting.

Injured Tufted Duck

I spotted this male tufted duck staggering around the garden like a drunk and guess it must have been struck hard with an oar by one of the many rowers in this area. It was so sad to watch it arching up and tottering over, time and time again. If I 'd been able to 'rescue' it without harming it I would have done so but I didn't want it to return to the river until it had recovered. Eventually it jumped down of its own accord and swam away so I can only hope that it made a full recovery.

Egyptian Goose

Three years ago it was rare to see Egyptian Geese on this stretch of the river but now there are rather more than is good for our indigenous wildlife. Just as the Canada Goose took over and bred far too successfully, so the Egyptian Geese are now becoming too numerous.