I’m delighted to report that the five Moorhen chicks that hatched in the dipping pond at Cosmeston on 1 April are all still alive and thriving. Their parents have obviously been doing a brilliant job of rearing and protecting them – no easy task when there are so many gulls at Cosmeston and a couple of local Buzzards that are always looking for an easy meal.
At 9am this morning, one of these Moorhen parents was still sitting on five eggs. By the time I got to the pond at 11.30 there were five newly hatched little bundles of fluff, two of which were already venturing out of the nest. And Mum and Dad were already mating, in preparation for their next brood. If these are the same Moorhens that bred at this site last year, they had three broods in total, I think, and those born first were helping the parents feed the subsequent generations. I’ll be keeping an eye on what happens this year.
All was peaceful as my friend Jill and I sat in a hide at Forest Farm Nature Reserve earlier this week. Light rain was falling and, though we could hear bird song in the reeds and surrounding trees, the only birds we saw were the cheeky little Great tits and Robins coming to feed on seed left by previous visitors to the hide.
Suddenly, a Moorhen appeared over the lip of the hillock in front of us, making a determined beeline for the front of the hide to harvest the seed that had been thrown out on the grass. The bird wasn’t at all hesitant and nervous … and then we saw why, as first one, then another little bundle of black fluff appeared over the hillock behind. We eventually counted five Moorhen chicks, and both parents emerged to help feed their ravenous youngsters. They were so delightful and entertaining to watch.
While it was a pleasure to see the Little egrets at Roath Park on Thursday, it was the other birds that brought me the most joy, especially because there were so many babies to be seen.
Cygnets, cootlets, ducklings, all at various stages of development, could be seen swimming, being fed by their parents and learning to feed themselves, and just sitting dozing in the warm sunshine.
Even the base of the Scott memorial lighthouse has become a nursery for a family of seven little coots.
I defy anyone to look at these and not smile!
After having the very upsetting experience of seeing a Lesser black-backed gull grab and devour, whole, a little coot chick earlier this week, I want to celebrate today the birds that have made it … so far. There seem so many obstacles in the paths of baby birds, so many predators looking for an easy meal, problems with inexperienced parents not caring for their chicks properly, and also, in some cases, a lack of sufficient food. It seems a miracle any of them make it to adulthood. Here are some that are doing better than most.
These Coot siblings are doing well, and are looking much more adult now they’ve lost their orange and red head feathers.
This little Mallard duckling was so cute, scooting along quickly, feeding actively, keeping closely behind mum. Fingers crossed for him/her!
You’ve heard of the ostrich hiding its head in the sand? Well, it seems this Greylag gosling is trying the ‘hiding its head in the nettles’ version.
Baby Blue tit was sitting on the pavement outside my house yesterday but quickly, though slightly erratically, fluttered up to the nearest tree as I approached. Luckily, one of its parents was nearby and flew down with some food. Its big eyes make it look surprised by the big wide world outside the nest!
This Nuthatch is the most advanced chick I’ve seen and was actively feeding itself on a tree in a local park, though it was stopping often to preen. Moulting its baby fluff must be an itchy process.