Sunday, 28 June 2009

Farewell to Goldeneye and several other female ducks

The last picture I took of Goldeneye before she disappeared

Sadly, I have to presume the worst as regards my old friend Goldeneye. I haven't seen her for weeks since the night her nest was disturbed and she normally returns to visit after a few days away if she's been frightened. What Dave probably saw in the early hours of the morning when we were woken by her alarm calls, was a fox carrying her off. She's been with us for a good few years now and I shall miss having her and Gobi around. Mrs. Speckles has also vanished, presumed dead but, at least I was able to save Lonely from drowning, when she was being attacked by seven males at once. She still visits regularly but times her arrival carefully when there are no males about.

The Cygnets are growing up

Last week the swans turned up with only six cygnets and I thought it odd that one might have disappeared, considering the size they now are. However, all seven arrived for supper and they are all now showing signs of independence from Mum and Dad. In a few months they'll be driven away if they don't drift off of their own accord!

Female Mandarin duck dozing on our railing

This female, who's leg is tagged, spends much of her time with us at the moment. She's very tame and stays close to the front door when she wants to be fed. This is the first year that we've had a Mandarin duck spending so much time with us.

Four of seven baby coots

Coots are great parents, generally speaking, though we have seen some peck their own youngsters to death, presumably because they recognize that the young one isn't going to survive. These parents are fearless in their defense of their young, seeing off Canada geese as well as ducks of all kinds. Only the swans seem to stop them in their tracks. Last week a cat managed to reach their nest and carried off one of the babies, much to the distress of both parents. There are still six youngsters and they are growing rapidly. They look so funny with their ridiculous 'punk' red and yellow heads.

Young Great Tit asking to be fed

This youngster made quite a racket in the garden as it followed its parents around demanding regular food. It's almost as big as its parents but appears so helpless when it opens its beak and flutters its wings.

Sunset on the homeward stretch of river

We've been out in the boat most evenings as the weather has been lovely and the sky looked so attractive as we turned the corner of Taggs Island and headed for home the other night. We love our evening trips as the river is quiet and peaceful.

Sunset on Taggs at the upstream end

Hampton Church with the sailing club in the foreground

A view of our garden last month

The garden deck looking towards Hurst Park

Astoria being towed past Taggs Island

The houseboat, Astoria, originally belonged to Fred Karno who owned the Karsino on Taggs Island. This elegant Edwardian houseboat is now owned by David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) and is normally moored upstream of Taggs Island on an attractive stretch of river beyond Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare.
Astoria on the move

Astoria on its way back from Huck's Boatyard