Sunday, 8 May 2011

1st May

1st May
No white rabbits today but an abundance of baby birds.  The place is heaving with new life:
Mallard duck news:
·         near the boat yard, the Golden mallard still has eight ducklings including the two very pale ones
·         near the barges, the mallard there is down to three including the pale one
·         no sign of the lone abandoned mallard duckling along that stretch
·         Smudge still has five and is hanging out at the Mill apartments – with the male in-tow
·         near the reed bed there is a new family of mallards with 9 ducklings
·         Near Lingcroft wharf, I only saw one of the abandoned ducklings today.

White geese news:
·         I think the two large gosling families along near the allotments have moved into the field above the canal but I can’t actually see into the field from the tow path now the coppice is growing wild.  I just get flashes of white and one or two flashes of yellow but I also didn’t see them on Greenhill.  I think I see a way down from the road to the wall of that field so I’ll maybe just check them out tomorrow. 
·         Along that stretch there are still four nests occupied that I can see.  The pretty goose with the faun face and neck has given up sitting of what seems to be a barren nest and has moved back to Greenhill.  She is hovering close to geese with goslings and getting chased away for her trouble.  She seems to be a typical broody female with an empty nest.   Her male was nearby and I wouldn’t be surprised if they mated again.
·          One poor female on a nest at the reed bed is looking particularly bald on her neck where males have been holding onto her feathers.  (There is a female mallard along at Greenhill almost as bald.)
·         On Greenhill the 1st goslings are growing very big and are much paler now.
·         The five from the allotment nest also seem to be doing well.
·         The gosling I rescued seems none the worst for his adventure.  As I said, I suspect the male has some China goose in him and it was interesting to note he and his family stayed fairly close to the female China goose and her extended family.  They don’t usually tolerate other geese close to them and it makes me wonder if he was the female’s father???
·         Talking of the China goose – wow – I confess I didn’t realise what was going on there.  At first I thought she had 7, and then the next day thought I had miscounted because there were 9.   The following day there were 11 and I began to suspect this was a goosy threesome with two females and 1 male on one nest.  Sure enough, today there are three adults looking after – wait for it – 20 goslings.   Obviously the eggs from the China goose hatched first then the second female took over the sitting.  Then as each new pair hatched and were able to leave the nest, they joined the China goose and her mate.  Only when all the eggs hatched did the second female join them.

·         Under the hawthorn tree, the second female is still sitting on the eggs while the other two adults are all over the place.  The first female seems to be having nothing to do with the eggs now.  I suspect what has happened in that nest, is that only one of the first female’s eggs has been viable – poor Thorn who didn’t make it.  At some point she has accepted her other eggs are not going to hatch and has left the second female to sit on her own eggs.  We will see if all 3 adults get together again when these one hatch.
The Canada goose is keeping a low profile on her nest while the male patrols the water in front of her.
Moorhen news:
·         I can’t see any sign of moorhens either at the weir or the reed beds. 
·         The only moorhen visible there is the one with the nest in the tree at the coppice.  Today I was able to catch the female returning to the nest.  She actually pulls down the branch closer to the water so she can step on it then, using her wings as balance, makes her way into the nest.  A minute later the male appears and heads straight my way for food.  They don’t seem to have chicks yet as it is only nesting material that is being carried to the nest.  It seems usually protocol – never return to the nest empty-beaked.

·         Micklethwaite moorhens at Greenhill appear to be down to only 3 chicks.  The main nest has been completely destroyed now, not a stick left.  I tracked the female down to a little nest she has been under a bush, on the wall under the mill apartments.  She has this lovely little ‘clik clik, clik,’ when she wants the chicks to follow her.  At evening 2 of the chicks returned with her while 1 stayed with the male on the shore at Greenhill.  I’m not sure where they will nest for the night.  When I went down first, there was 1 adult and 2 chicks in the hole in the concrete at the edge of the old turning point but a cow managed to sniff them out.  Maybe the male will take the chick there at night.  With the presence of the cows it is hard to see that there might be a second brood this year.

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