Sunday, 7 February 2010

How many Pochards?

Dawn patrol

The dominant mute swans don't tolerate interlopers and, with Spring approaching, have increased the early morning patrols of their territory. The mute swan tagged UPH and his partner have been sneaking in for a quick beakful of wheat but it's a risky business. Over the past fourteen days they've been chased away at least a dozen times! They took flight just in time on this occasion but I hope they won't be foolish enough to come back. This was a grab shot, as I hadn't been paying attention and only noticed the action at the last moment. I should know by now that, when the light is lovely and there's wildlife about, I should have my camera close by and be prepared for what might happen!

Bidou stretches her wings

Bidou has become very vocal recently and 'chats' away to us whenever we feed her. In fact, if we don't notice her, she makes sure that we're aware of her presence by increasing the volume of her calls for attention. I've noticed that she responds to any swans flying overhead by 'trumpeting' very loudly as they pass. It's sad that she is still alone, three years after settling in the area, and attaches herself to the pair of mute swans for company whenever she can. It's obvious that they don't really want her around but at least they're not beating her up at the moment.

There's no 'entente cordiale' among Pochards

Monsieur and Madame Pochard have become regulars now and we assume they are the pair that nested in the area last summer. We were rather surprised the other morning to see five pochards hanging around at first light, two pairs and a 'spare' male. We wondered, at first, whether 'the regulars' had brought their mates in from Bushy Park but it soon became apparent that there was no love lost between them and the newcomers haven't been seen since that morning. There's little 'entente cordiale' between the pochards and the mandarin ducks either and there are frequent squabbles but it's fun to watch them all interact. The colourful plumage of the mandarins and the vibrant crest and beak of the male pochard brightens up the rather drab days at the moment.

A determined tufted duck

The current has been strong recently and the waterfowl are having to swim hard against the flow to make any headway. This male tufted duck saw me come out to throw some wheat on the plank and put on a spurt to make sure he didn't miss out on a treat.

Mute swan thrusts against the current

The dominant cob spots a rival

I'm always amazed at just how powerful the dominant pair of mute swans are. They make an impressive pair when they 'see off ' rivals and the wake they create gives some indication of their strength as they surge through the water.

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