Thursday, 28 April 2011

Along the canal

RIP Thorn
Sad news, Thorn the little gosling who lived under the hawthorn tree is conspicuous by his absence.  He hasn’t been seen since Monday evening.
Wildlife photography by AnnMackieMiller
Copyright 2011

Smudge: remember how I said Smudge had 6 ducklings?  Well I didn’t actually see them, they were all underneath her.  Actually – she had 13!  No wonder she was that funny shape, it must take a bit of doing to cover them all.  Today she is out near the boat yard with 11 ducklings spread around her.  Unlike goslings who stick close to the adults (mostly) mallard ducklings roam far and wide and are prime targets for preditors.  There is a huge mortality rate with mallards, pike take them from underneath, herons from above and mink and fox on shore.  Today there was no sign of the male with Smudge.
The two little mallard ducks that were hatched first are well and truly on there own.  Mother is no where in sight, I can only assume she has mated again.  At least they survived the visit from the heron yesterday so there is hope for them.  Perhaps they will be adopted by another female once they start arriving on the canal with new arrivals. 

There were some new arrivals in the field above the coppice: five little bundles seen with both parents.   That nest must have been in the field itself.   I think this is their first day out of the nest and I am intrigued to know how the parents are going to get them down the steep banking into the water.   They were hovering at the top of the slope where the adults usually come down but making no attempt at it.   They will have to get to water tomorrow.
I’m also wondering if the goose hidden deep in the bramble bush has new goslings.  The father has turned up and is standing guard outside the bush – tomorrow will tell.  Of the other nests along there, two are well overdue for hatching.  It is not that unusual for eggs to be infertile but I do wonder how long a goose will sit on eggs that are not going to hatch.  The one I called The Neighbour – because she was next door to the very first goose eggs laid, was sitting off the eggs today – was she letting them cool down?  It was certainly a really hot afternoon and I do know the eggs have to be kept at an even temperature.
Along at Greenhill there was a nice surprise when the China goose and partner arrived with seven goslings,  one day old.  Of the seven, one has a black beak.  I won’t mention that I have always thought the China goose was male – obviously not since she was brooding the goslings.
The Micklethwaite Moorhens have once again been evicted from their primary nest.  Today they had decided to visit the concrete path above the barge moorings where they seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.  I wondered how on earth they had managed to get up there until I saw them using a tyre tied to the mooring to climb up.  Later when they were chased off  by a dog returning to his barge, I managed to get some delightful picture of them in what I think is a culvert or some sort of run-off.  One even managed to look as if he was waiting for a bus.  Another, seems to have an amazing beard, well they all look a bit like they have a beard but this one is particularly noticeable. 

I saw the other two goose families at a distance – all members accounted for.
Under the hawthorn tree the two females are still sharing the nest.  I suspect most of the white goose’s eggs weren’t viable except for that one.  If they had been I wonder if there would have been a different outcome.  If she had more than one gosling to consider would she have come off the nest to do so.  She certainly did not give little Thorn the sort of attention I’ve grown used to seeing with goose families – but then these others don’t have unhatched eggs.  Is it her imperative to brood the eggs no matter what?  I can only speculate.   I’m also curious to see whether the second female’s eggs will hatch out.  I think there is another two weeks before those are due. 
The behaviour of the two white geese in that threesome is intriguing.  They seem to show genuine affection for each other and it does seem the white goose is the more dominant of the two females. 

1 comment:

  1. A bitter sweet post, Annie. On our walk, a band of 15 geese were on the ice beside a few feet of open water yesterday. Our waterbirds are returning. Pike and heron are the bogeybirds here too.