Tag Archives: Arnot Hill

More Red-crested Pochards

Here are a couple more shots of Red-crested Pochard in Arnot Hill Park. They are interesting birds as many of them are escapees from wildfowl collections, but at this time of year others fly in from wild populations in Europe.

There was a group at Idle Valley Nature Reserve last autumn and another small flock when we visited Rutland Water earlier in the year. In fact there are 39 there now, according to the latest sighting reports.

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The three photos below show various birds at Arnot Hill earlier in the year – as you can see, the females are much drabber, and one of the drakes has a light back – a sign that it is an escaped bird from a collection (domesticated birds tend to be lighter).

The third picture shows a Red-crested Pochard and a Common Pochard.

Road to Recovery

I’ve been stretching and exercising and generally paying attention to my legs, which has improved things greatly. . I am now able to walk more or less painlessly and only need the stick for balance. At that point it seemed like a good idea to take a trip to the park and walk round the duckpond.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

We got off to a bad start when my poor, stiff legs refused to cooperate, and only just made it to the first bench. Julia went for tea, biscuits and duck food while I sat and watched wildlife. Things are starting to happen in the park, with lots of leaves breaking out and a plenty of birdsong. I managed to miss photographs of all the singers. The best I could do were various blobs lurking, out of focus, behind twigs. A Long-tailed Tit spent a good ten minutes doing this. I can only assume there is some evolutionary benefit to annoying photographers.

Alternatively, bearing in mind the possibility that birds sing simply because they enjoy it, maybe Long-tailed Tits just enjoy winding me up.

There are at least six pairs of Greylag Geese on the pond, though it’s difficult to tell as they lurk behind the island. There are also six Red Crested Pochard – two pairs and two single males. The only nests we can see so far are two Coot nests.

The Odd Couple are still hanging about, but I don’t hold out much hope of breeding success.

Eventually, having taken tea and biscuits and tutted at the antics of various hellish toddlers, we set off and completed the circuit. I did need a bit of assistance from the stick in the last few yards.

Four hundred yards round a duck pond is hardly an expedition, but it’s a start.

 

Ducks and Sunshine

It’s one of those Saturdays where I had nothing in particular to do.

Leisurely breakfast, drop Julia off at work and take a walk round the park in the sunshine.

It’s not a bad life. I didn’t go shopping because there was a queue for the car park (which would have dispersed my feeling of well-being) and I couldn’t go on anywhere to take more photographs because I really needed to get to grips with something that looks like work.

Life can’t be all ducks and sunshine.

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Arnot Hill Park – ducks and sunshine

My sister reminded me last night that I have a cookery book I haven’t used yet. She didn’t actually say that, she told me it was currently on sale at half price and did I want her to get me a copy.  At that point I guiltily recalled buying it just before Christmas, flicking through it and putting it to one side for later.

I have two sorts of cookery books – ones “for later” and ones with food stains. Really I should get rid of them because these days I mainly get my recipes from blogs I follow or from the internet. That means one pile is redundant and the other is a health hazard.

Time, I think, to open the book, work out a menu and write a shopping list.  Julia has already started it with three items. For those of you who like shopping lists, it reads:

Union Tea

Black Sloe Potash

Bears

You may gather that I have trouble reading her writing. It’s not a one-sided problem, as everyone has problems with mine. I have, over the years, managed to use a squiggle to replace most letters of the alphabet and developed a style of handwriting which even I have difficulty reading. This probably disqualifies it from being called writing.

However, bad as mine is, I still have to buy three items based on the list.

I’m off for another go at shopping now, before picking Julia up. I’m going to buy Lemon Tea, Black Shoe Polish and Beans. If there’s a problem I’ll tell her TESCO doesn’t stock Black Sloe Potash. Or bears.

A Tale of Two Ducks

Back to Arnot Hill Park and the duck pond again, with two interesting ducks.

One is the Mandarin drake. He wasn’t about last visit, and on the visit before that it was so dull I couldn’t get a good shot.

We have a population of around 2,300 breeding pairs in the UK, with more in Dublin and mainland Europe. In winter there can be as many as 7,000 individuals, including migrants from Europe. All were introduced, either deliberately or from accidental escapes.  In its normal range habitat destruction has reduced the population to around a 1,000 in China, and about the same in Russia. The only stable population is Japan, with 5,000 pairs. It is listed as “declining” worldwide, but is still a species of Least Concern.

The one I saw today, though small, is quite capable of holding his own against Coots and Mallards, two species that are currently getting a bit lively as the breeding season approaches.

 

The other duck caught my eye amongst the various Mallard hybrids is a pleasantly coloured individual with a longish tail that resembles a Pintail. The shape of the neck ring, from certain angles, also resembles a Pintail.

I looked up hybrid ducks and found several records that look like this, plus an analysis of how they happen. Mallards have a bit of a reputation for overly enthusiastic mating and this is one of the results.

The photograph of the duck lacking head was a mistake, but is the only one showing the green speculum which is a feature of this cross-breed.

It’s amazing what you can learn from looking at a duck pond.