Saturday, 30 October 2010

Misty and mellow scenes on the river

Mute swan in early morning mist

We've had some fabulous morning mists and late autumn sunshine to brighten the days as the nights draw in and daylight hours decrease. Temperatures fluctuate considerably with sharp frosts some mornings and warm, balmy days at other times. The leaves are changing colour dramatically, now, and Bushy Park is ablaze with colour. The (deer) rut is almost over but I watched two young roe bucks lock antlers in earnest today while a third one accompanied their action with a series of grunts.

Rowers launch their skiffs at Molesey Boat Club

Mute swan sets off after Bidou

The dominant mute swans are still patrolling this stretch vigorously and do not tolerate Bidou's presence. The male always drives her away but she bides her time and sneaks back after they've moved on. At least I haven't seen them fly after her which they do when they spot another mute swan in the area.

Mallard drake in all his glory

The drakes have all regained their definitive plumage, as have the mandarin ducks, but the grebes remain in eclipse for the winter. There's a huge amount of 'whistle/grunt' activity going on among the mallards as they continue to pair off. It never fails to make me smile.

Bright-eyed, young male tufted duck

Coot poses for a picture

A pair of aggressive coots frequent our feeding station and beat up most of the other waterbirds. The other day a pair of great crested grebes tried to 'haul out' on the same wide platform but the coots would have none of it and saw them off. When they do get the platform to themselves it's amazing to see the grebes standing (almost) upright. They're ungainly on land but they seem to like using our plank to relax on and for grooming.

This swan would fight his own shadow if he didn't have an interloper to see off!

Race day at Hampton Sailing Club

It's a colourful sight when all the sailing dinghy's are out in fine weather. Above is a picture of the race from a distance with Hampton Church in the background, downstream towards Molesely Lock.

Organised chaos as the dinghies negotiate the marker buoys

Female mallard with straw on her beak

This female has been showing a great deal of interest in both duck nesting boxes. I watch her and her partner waddle up and down the planks to the two boxes, apparently trying to decide which box will be best when Spring comes. Meanwhile Lonely, who likes to think she owns one of the boxes, shows enormous disapproval when any other female looks into 'her' box.

Lonely keeps a watchful eye on her 'preferred' nesting box

Male pochard

We hadn't seen the pochards for ages and then one day they suddenly appeared, stayed for several hours, then disappeared again. I haven't seen them since. We have had two young mandarin ducks hanging around in the chilly weather and I think they were last year's babies as they weren't the least nervous when I went outside to feed them. They were made most unwelcome by the regular pair of mandarin ducks, though, and I haven't seen them now for at least a week.