We all need a little cuteness from time to time, so I hope you enjoy this photo, taken recently at Forest Farm Nature Reserve, of Mrs Mallard and her three ducklings snoozing on a log on the Glamorgan Canal.
Female ducks, of various species – in this case Mallard, are often under-appreciated. But, with a little time and some close observation, I think we can all learn to appreciate the sublime subtly of their plumage, the tonal colour variations and the intricacy of their delicate patterning.
Yesterday’s walk along the Ely river embankment was a mix of treats and unexpectedness. The first unexpected treat was the large number of both Sand and House martins flying low along the embankment: the air around me was alive with their close flypasts and their noisy chirruping. I’ve no photos of them – I was too intent on enjoying their proximity.
Next up was the sight of a family of Grey wagtails, two adults and their three offspring, flitting about amongst the stones at the water’s edge.
While watching the wagtails, I noticed the water churning at various points along the river’s edge. It was being caused by large fish, feeding on the weed that’s growing on the stones just under the water. Thanks to one of my Twitter pals, Tate, I later learned they were Thick-lipped grey mullet, which can grow ‘to huge sizes’ and which are ‘mostly a saltwater fish but can tolerate fresh water quite far up rivers’.
After unexpectedly bumping in to a birding friend and enjoying a chat to a real live person (a rare treat in these days of lockdown), my final wild treat was seeing these two Mallard ducklings, meandering along the river with their mother.
I always thought the expression ‘It’s good weather for ducks’ referred to wet weather: persistent rain leading to the formation of large pools of water that a duck might enjoy swimming in. Turns out I may have been wrong, and it may well have come from comments by the shooters of waterfowl, who find wet weather better for their hunting.
I certainly hope this gorgeous female Mallard doesn’t meet that fate. How could anyone shoot such a beautiful bottom … er, creature?
Some days, when it’s grey and misty and still a bit damp from the morning’s rain, the best thing to do is tuck your head under your wing and snooze the afternoon away – at least that seems to have been the opinion of this female Mallard on the Ely embankment today.
On Friday, after I’d paid a visit to the tree I’m following, I enjoyed a stroll along the trail in Cardiff’s Bute Park that meanders through mature woodland alongside the River Taff. Despite this summer’s drought conditions, the recent rains have revived the local trees and plants so everything was looking wonderfully lush and vibrant.
A female Goosander sailing down river was a pleasant sight. Both males and females can often be seen on this part of the Taff from autumn through to spring.
Near the far river bank, a Grey heron stood tall on one of the many exposed rocks and boulders. The river is quite low at the moment.
There weren’t a lot of signs of autumn yet – only the leaves of the Horse chestnuts were yellowing and curling up and beginning to drop.
A Speckled wood was well camouflaged on the woodland floor. There weren’t many butterflies around, just half a dozen Speckled woods and a few Small whites.
A Mallard enjoyed a snooze near the river’s edge.
I liked the colours and patterns of the pebbles and the occasionally blue sky reflected in the river water.
This was one of two Mute swans feeding.
I’ve seen this particular Carrion crow many times before when I’ve walked this way. I know it’s the same crow, not because of how it looks but because it has virtually no voice. It tries to croak but hardly any sound comes out.
Most of the wildflowers have finished flowering but this Green alkanet was a pretty exception.
Just a few hints of autumn showing here. I love how this path meanders through these magnificent trees.
The woodland trail finishes just below Blackweir, where the current low water level means many rocks and boulders have been exposed. This was the perfect spot for a group of perhaps 20 Grey wagtails to fly-catch, and watching their aerial antics was the perfect end to my wander alongside the Taff.
#30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, birding, birdwatching, Cosmeston, Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, ducklings, Grey heron, gull chicks, gull nesting on urban rooftop, heronsew, Lesser black-backed gull, Mallard, young heron
The blue-sky heat was relieved ever so slightly on day 27 of #30DaysWild by a nice breeze, so I strolled along to Cosmeston Lakes Country Park for a mooch around. I had a lovely time, though after a couple of hours chasing butterflies in the glaring heat, I felt rather envious of the water birds enjoying the cooling water of the lakes.
This young Grey heron – apparently called a heronsew, from the French heronceau – has not yet learnt to fear humans and was very close to the boardwalk by the cafe.
As I was watching it, Mum Mallard brought her brood of five well-grown ducklings out for a swim. They looked a bit like gawky teenagers and have already been taught to approach humans in the hope of some food.
Then, on the walk home, I spotted a bundle of fluff moving around on a rooftop. By the time I got the camera out, it had sat back down with its sibling and, though I was on the other side of the street, mother (or father) Lesser black-backed gull flew past screeching at me, before landing on the chimney to keep an eye on its chicks. I’ve heard of these gulls nesting on factories and taller buildings but not on a house in an urban area.
My regular followers will remember that, over the winter months, when there were more birds around, I posted a regular monthly roundup of the action along the embankment where the River Ely flows in to Cardiff Bay. Today, for day 15 of #30DaysWild, I thought I’d take another look. Here’s what I found …