Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Birdwatching along Bingley Canal

Along the canal - my 6 feathered families

white mallard duck
'what ya doing?" white mallard duck by annmackiemiller
This page takes a look back at the "Fowl Tales", a collection of photo journals featuring British birds taken by me here in Yorkshire. I particularly love wildfowl. These are all photographs of my favourite families taken last year on a small stretch of the Leeds to Liverpool canal, near Bingley, West Yorkshire, England. This is also something of an anticipatory lens, I can't wait to see what I find to photograph every year.

Some people feel the need to travel to exotic locations to photograph birds, but there is plenty to see and learn around your own neighbourhood. All you need is a camera, a notebook and a willingness to venture out in all weathers. Personally, I love to be able to tell a story with my pictures and there is no better way to do that than by observing the birds day by day. I hope you enjoy sharing my journey.

6 Wildfowl Families Along Bingley Canal

There were several waterfowl families that captured my imagination last year.

In their pecking order:
  • Grumps and Lady: mute swans who had seven cygnets
  • The Canada Geese who had seven goslings
  • Greenhill Geese: White domestic geese with only four goslings
  • Mama Mallard: a golden-coloured mallard duck who produced 15 ducklings
  • Smudge the white mallard duck
  • Micklethwaite Moorhens: a mating pair of moorhens at Micklethwaite Wharf who produced two broods

Mute Swans

mute swans with cygnets
mute swans with cygnets by annmackiemiller
Two mute swans have been breeding at this site for many years. Lady is his second mate after his first mate was killed by foxes. Grumps is probably about 17 years old and definitely believes he rules the canal. He regularly chases everything off the canal, he seems to particularly hate the Canada Geese.
7 mute swan cygnets
female mute swan and cygnets
'Lady' the mute swan with cygnets by annmackiemiller
Swans mate for life, Grumps' first mate died and this is his new love called Lady. They had seven cygnets.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese
Canada Geese and Goslings by annmackiemiller
Parents keep watch as the goslings feed
 Of the six visiting Canada geese on our Greenhill, there was one mating pair. They produced seven goslings who all survived. They tend to be quite aggressive but can’t stand up to the mute swan. One day in particular Grumps kept them penned in on the wooden workings of the swing bridge.

The folk who own the flats alongside the canal were fortunate to have these little gardeners keeping the grass short.

Canada geese and goslings on water
'On the water' Adult Canada goose with goslings on water

Canada geese goslings
'Keeping it together' Canada Geese Goslings

Greenhill Geese: Embden Geese

Embden geese with chicks
'That tickles!' Embden geese with goslings
We have a resident flock of geese who live on our Greenhill- actually it is four small flocks. They are mainly white domestic geese, combining Emden and Toulouse geese, a single China goose and some hybrids that have mated with greylag geese. The gaggle started as escapees from local allotments, now gone wild. At their most there were 70. Of these only four goslings were born last year: one to one family and three to another. What was interesting was that the three chicks were cared for by three geese, mother and father and a beta female.

Embden goose with goslings on water
'follow the butt'
Goslings and adult Embden goose on water

Embden geese protecting goslings
'keep off!' Adult Embden goose protecting young

Mallard Ducks

golden mallard duck
female mallard duck by annmackiemiller

Mama Mallard is a golden-coloured mallard duck who produced 15 ducklings last year. Included in the brood was one golden chick. There is a really high mortality rate among chicks so sadly only 5 survived to adulthood. I was delighted that the little yellow duckling grew up to be a beautiful little white duck.

mallard ducklings
mallard ducklings

yellow duckling
yellow mallard duckling

mallard ducklings
mallard ducklings

Smudge the White Mallard Duck

white mallard duck with male and ducklings
Smudge, mate and ducklings
White mallard ducks are fairly common and Smudge is a white duck with a dark smudge on her head. She and her mate had an early brood which they both looked after but they abandoned after about 3-4 weeks old. Incidentally they were adopted by another mother.

It is unusual for mallards to have a single partner but Smudge is the exception. Her mate is recognisable because he lacks the usual white ring around his neck.

What was interesting was that a few weeks later Smudge inserted her way into another mallard brood and eventually both females looked after the two surviving ducklings.

mallard ducklings
mallard ducklings
white mallard duck with ducklings
Smudge and her ducklings by annmackiemiller

Micklethwaite Moorhens

moorhens building nest
moorhens and nest
This was a delightful family of moorhens to watch from nesting their first brood to caring for their second. Of the first brood had eight chicks. All grew into juveniles and then one chick appeared from a second brood. The juveniles and the adults all cared for the tiny bug-eyed chick. Sadly he didn’t survive.

This family build their nest out into the canal giving me a great chance to watch them over a prolonged period.

moorhen with chicks in nest
'in the nest' adult moorhen with chicks on the nest
adult moorhen feeding chick
'Feed me Feed me' Adult moorhen with chick

I've written about these families extensively over on hubpages - you can see the photo journals and others there - AnnMackieMiller on Hubpages.

Where to find photo journals on these families
Mute Swans
Canada Geese
Greenhill Geese
Smudge the Little White Duck

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