Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Saturday, 16 May 2009


What a day.

Rain, sun and howling wind. Cygnets, goslings, and ducklings. Current nests, and nest takeovers. A tree that came straight from a horror movie. Butterflies with boots and attitude. And I took way too many pictures.
What started as a quick visit to the local lake, turned into a marathon five-hour visit; so I’ll have to split this, to try and capture it all.

The day started with cloud and rain, so the idea was to quickly check on the regular nesting activity, see if any new birds had arrived, and then home.


As I pulled into the car park, the rain gave way to glimmers of sun, forcing its way through the cloud. ‘oooo, good.’ I thought, as I stepped onto the gravel. The wind whipped the Swifts along over the treetops, towards the lake, and nearly took the car door off its hinges to join them. It didn’t seem that windy when I left home, but now it felt like I was standing in the teeth of a hurricane.
I put the door back into its rightful place, and set off over a small footbridge, to see how the Swans were doing. I saw a movement in the bushes, and stopped to see if I could see who it was. Staring back at me, with a beak of breakfast, was Mrs Great Tit.

She must have a nest close by, because she was reluctant to go any further; instead giving me a look from side to side.
I decided to move on, and let her get on with feeding the family, and as I moved off the bridge, she flew into the bushes behind.
The Coot family were taking refuge in the reeds, trying to keep out of the wind, and riding the waves that were being whipped up, like surfers at the edge of an Ocean. I couldn’t tell how many chicks there were, so I carried on to the swan nest instead.
Mrs Swan was having a tidy up, after spending the evening sitting on her two eggs. She gave me a glance,
I said ‘morning’, and carried on to my next port of call. The Swans raised a bigger family last year, so perhaps this time they were taking a bit of a rest.

I turned the curve of the lake and had the wind behind me now, hurrying me along the path. A Sedge Warbler was doing his full repertoire as I passed some reeds, and a Willow Warbler was doing a duet with a Robin in the trees ahead.
No sign of any Herons yet, which was unusual, as there are quite a few around the lake as a rule.
I stopped to watch another Coot family, swimming around, and feeding, at a more sheltered part of the water.
One of the adult birds had something pretty substantial in its beak, and one of the chicks quickly swam over to take it.

Such gentle behaviour.
The Great Crested Grebes were next on my checklist, and as I neared the spot where they were nesting, I stopped to chat to a woman walking her dog. I see her fairly often when I visit the lake, and she began telling me about some swans that had some cygnets further round the lake. She also remarked about the lack of Herons; maybe they’d decided to go elsewhere. The Mallard family with the odd yellow duckling was mentioned, and neither of us had seen it today so far.
She carried on with her dog walking, and I made my way to the Grebe nest.
The two adults were swimming amongst the reeds, which seemed a bit strange.
Then I noticed why. Sat on their nest, was a squatter. A Coot.

I’ve no idea what had happened in the space of a week, but the Grebe couple had been turned out from their home, by a Coot, who seemed to be making it his own. Such is the way of nature I guess, but I was more than a little saddened, as I watched the two Grebes aimlessly swimming around amongst the reeds. Hopefully they can rebuild their nest elsewhere, and carry on again safely with their lives.

The Swifts and House Martins were screaming and soaring overhead, as I made my way further round the lake. The wind wasn’t quite so forceful along this part of the path; there was plenty of shelter to break down its anger.
A pair of Canada Geese were preparing to take their young family for its morning swim,
and carefully slid into the water, as the waves lapped at the edge.
They swam past quickly, with a purpose, or maybe it was just to get away from the strange creature walking too near their space. Either way, I managed a few shots.

I carried on; almost half way round the lake now. A Swan cautiously came near, proudly showing off her four new Cygnets.

Then it was time for her to go about the business of getting breakfast for the kids.
They seemed to look on in wonder, as mum first upended, and then reappeared with food.

And then stretched her long neck below the water.

They looked on, intrigued.
'One day you’ll be able to do this for your families', I thought to myself.

I turned the top of the lake, to begin my journey down the other side.
Hovering in the distance, a Kestrel was battling against the wind, and doing a remarkable job of it. He seemed to hang motionless; then suddenly, rose up with the wind, and was carried backwards. He settled on top of a lamppost, so I made my way towards him, hoping to get a few shots. A pigeon began flying towards him with a definite purpose. I quickly took a few shots, guessing he’d leave before I got close enough for a decent picture.

I was right. The pigeon soon dislodged him from his perch, and he was gone.
Dam pigeon!
To continue:


  1. Lovely cute Images of the cygnets,your Kestrel shots look great. Such a proud pose.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed that Keith, but what a shame about the GCG nest, unfortunately the animal world can be as cruel as that of the human but at least their actions, unlike ours, are instinctive rather than considered I suppose.

    All the photos are as lovely as always and the swan sequence was fun!

  3. JRandSue.....thanks. The cygnets are always good to see. Shame I couldn't get closer to the Kestrel before the pigeon arrived. :(

    ShySongbird, thank you. Yea, I was a bit upset when I found the Grebes had been ousted. I really hope they can get going again.

  4. ...what a nice walk, and it start off quick visit! It's always best to go with the flow like you did! Mrs. Great Tit is cuteness itself, and the shots of Mama Coot feeding the baby are so nice. Sad and disappointing about the grebe (sometimes I'm amazed anything can reproduce with predation, habitat destruction, and more aggressive competition, but I guess that's the name of survival--except for the habitat desctruction part, that's all us).

  5. We really enjoyed your walk and of course the great shots!!The coot family is really cute.Sad for the Grebes but guess that's how nature works.

  6. Another great walk Keith; it appears you've had an idyllic weather day as I did Lol!

    Great shots of the Kestrel in particular. As others have already said, shame about the Grebe's nest - this is what happened to "my" Bushy Park Grebes. There seem to be so many Coots about these days and they aggressively take over nests!

    Interestingly, having watched Grebes defending their territory against a Coot, the Grebes are not at all aggressive which may explain why they get "taken over" so easily.

  7. Shame about the grebes, love the shots of the Kestrel, you've caught the colours beautifully even at a distance.

  8. Spectacular photos Keith!..Love the little ones getting their feeding thats very special. Too bad about the Grebe nest.

  9. Don't you just love our Great British weather! Hope your car door is OK.
    Love the Canada Goslings - they remind me of buttered crumpets, so I'm going to have one now (crumpet, not gosling.)

  10. Weather considering, you got some good shots altogether Keith.

  11. Thanks Kelly….I’ve since found out the Great Tits nest is under the bridge! No wonder she was reluctant to move. The Coot feeding was very gentle, compared to their usual behaviour.

    NatureStop….Thank you, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Tricia, thank you. Weather has been ‘orrid today, but I did manage to get out.
    A real shame about the Grebes; but I did witness some of their aggression today. Two males in a right old scrap.

    LBJ……Thank you. I just wished I could have got a bit closer to the Kestrel though. Dam that pigeon :)

    Dixxie, thank you. I guess it shows the good side of the Coots, with those chicks; but they have a bad reputation as fighters.

    Thanks Pete, glad you enjoyed the pics.

    Rob, thank you. Car door back in its place. Think it’s time to get rid of it though ;)

    Roy, thanks. That wind was pretty fierce at times.

  12. Another great post Keith. I hope the Grebe's find a new nesting place.
    Lovely set of pics !