Sunday, 31 July 2011

Gone Fishing

Young heron beside the pond

We have to give this youngster full marks for persistence. I've lost count of the number of times recently that I've seen him trying to catch the fish in my pond. Twice I've discovered him wading in the pond, he often stands poised at the edge of the pond ready to strike and, occasionally, he uses the roof as an observation post. He's not the least bit afraid of me and I can stand close by and watch his efforts after, that is, I've done my best to ensure that the fish are safe. We think he spends time on our walkway in the early morning too as there's a massive pool of 'poo' in the same spot most days.

Posing for the camera

On Friday he spent about 5 minutes strutting up and down the bog garden pretending to ignore the pond itself. At one point he showed interest in some fish in the shallows of the river and lunged at them. It's a privilege to be close to such a magnificent bird but I'd still prefer that he restricted his fishing forays to the banks of the River Thames!

Portion control

This grebe's eyes were bigger than its belly and, after futile attempts to swallow the fish, the grebe finally gave up. I'm surprised at the size of fish grebes and cormorants do manage to swallow but on this occasion the grebe lost out.

One of many attempts to swallow its catch

Female tufted duck with youngster

It's lovely to see baby tufted ducks and this female arrived with three fluffy youngsters yesterday. We think she had four a few days ago but has lost one. They're such fun to watch as they dive for the wheat we feed them and a joy to hear them chattering quietly to each other in mellifluous tones.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A tale mainly of mandarin ducks and grebes

Mandarin duck with her two youngsters

It's been a very good year for mandarin ducks. The two pictured above have grown up but we now have another mum with one junior. The pair spend most of the time relaxing on our deck under the table and chairs. The youngster is very fond of spiders and flies and does some of the outside 'housework' for me on a regular basis by cleaning up the spiders' webs.

Watch the baby grebes being fed while sitting on one of the parents' backs

New kids on the block

A family of four young grebes spent much of their time around here but there was a bit of a battle recently and the newcomers have taken over this stretch. They have three young babies and it's great to see them feeding and looking after their young. Dave watched as they had a 'shift' change yesterday. One of the parents shrugged the reluctant babies off its back and they were accepted by the other parent while the first grebe went off to fish.

While we were out in the boat yesterday evening we were upset to see what was probably one of the four older grebes lying dead by the weir stream. It was in the strangest position, resting on the beam of the weir stream, with its head leaning down towards the water.

Grebe with two youngsters on her back and one trailing behind

Baby grebes hitching a ride

Young heron checking out our pond

A young heron has been doing its best to catch the fish in our pond. I've seen it in the garden and, on one occasion I actually spotted it in the pond. The fish were traumatised for several weeks but have survived. Every so often, the heron comes back to try again and I do my best to deter it as there are plenty of fish in the river. Our fish are much more wary than they used to be though and we don't get to watch them swimming around and having fun like they used to. At least the mink hasn't checked out the pond for an easy snack.

The annual RHS Hampton Court Flower Show took place last week and below are a few images of the gardens and the floral displays.

Control the Uncontrollable

It's been quite a while since I've had time to write this blog and in the meantime our intrepid mallard HB is back in the hanging basket and well on her way to hatching about 8 eggs. Since the mink still passes by occasionally it's good to know she's safe where she is.

The dominant swan now has five large cygnets and the family drifts by daily for wheat treats. There was another pair of swans with several cygnets but the dominant male kept attacking the family and, in the end, all the cygnets were drowned and the parents driven off.

A pair of coots are nesting in the transom of a neighbour's boat and she hasn't been able to use the boat for a month! Luckily for her friends have taken her out or lent them their boats. She is now, vicariously, the proud 'mother' of at least one baby coot and a few more should hatch shortly.

There has been a massive increase in the number of Egyptian geese and the Canada geese population has also increased and is, some would say, far too large for this stretch of the river.

Upstream from us by Garrick's Ait we've noticed a family of four tufted ducks and a family of two red-crested pochards. Bidou, the black swan, is still single and this year we haven't seen any other black swans in the area for her to choose from.