Monday, 27 April 2015

Migrants and residents (but no Mandarins) at East Park

This morning I headed to East Park with the hope to see the pair of drake Mandarin ducks that have been around for a while. I got there very early, but after three hours there I saw no Mandarins. I wasn't too disappointed though, as East Park is like a treasure trove, always something interesting going on.
 Soon after arriving I saw a Swallow, the first of many, skimming the lake. By the bridge, later, a swarm of Swallows, House Martins and a lone Sand Martin flew about over the lake with much chirruping.
 Coots were in various stages of breeding. A few pairs had chicks on nests, some had chicks already out of the nest, yet others were incubating and one pair, with a very exposed nest very close to the shore, were mating.
 I saw a Great Crested Grebe with a fish in its bill. It joined its partner, which was with a mid-sized chick. She offered the fish to the chick, but it was so heavy the chick could barely lift it, and dropped it. The adult showed the fish again, but the chick wasn't interested, so the adult swallowed it.
Shortly after, both adults started their mating dance. They mirrored each others head shakes and preening moves for quite a while. As they moved apart I stopped the video recording, only to realised I missed recording the finale, when they come together with some nest material and stand on the water chest to chest. Must pay more attention next time!

Near the splash boat, a male Blackcap sung loudly (top shot). There were several singing males around the park. A Chiffchaff also sang from the large island.
 The Greylags were gathered on the far side, with a number of families with chicks. One pair was leading 10 chicks, which looked about the same size, I wonder if they had adopted some of them. Males were quite aggressive, one chased and grabbed another individual and came back to his female wings spread, doing his noisy triumph ceremony, so I guess a particularly aggressive male could end up with somebody else's chicks. The three Pinkfoot geese were sitting amongst the snoozing, non-breeding greylag flock. 'Line' was attached to a Greylag, whereas the other two seem to be a well attached pair.
 The small rookery (5-6 nests?) had some activity. The arrival of partners with food was greeted noisily by the incubating females. One of the females appeared to sit by the rest rearranging the eggs or nest material.
 Despite it being sunny, it was quite chilly today, with a light frost early on, but all in all, despite the absence of the mandarins, a lovely day out in the park.
A coot preens while their chicks wait for the other parent to return with food.
Great Crested Grebe and chick by the large island.
Female pied wagtail. A pair were present on the grass by the playground.
'Line' with its oversized greylag partner.
Greylag 'creche'
Rook on nest
Swan 775 decided he didn't want anyone in his lake. He chased ducks, geese and even ducklings. At some point a mother duck confronted it, setting herself in between a duckling and the swan!
Sorry, again, I can't resist a sunbathing woodpigeon (or any other bird for that matter!), they look so relaxed. 
Mating coots on their nest. The female adopts a curious head-down position.
A starling in search of nest lining materials
Greylag family with 10 goslings.
Recently fledged woodpigeon. Note the lack of neck patch (both the white patch and the iridescent, striated area), its washed colour (partly due to overexposure!) and the dark eye.
My first Speckled Wood of the year. Two were fighting. A Holly Blue patrolled a large holly, but never settled.
I found this snail shell by the lake shore. Robert Jaques and Gui García Saúco kindly identified it as the Common River Snail Viviparus viviparus.

Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blackcap
  3. Blue Tit
  4. Canada Goose
  5. Carrion Crow
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Chiffchaff
  8. Collared Dove
  9. Coot
  10. Dunnock
  11. Feral Pigeon
  12. Goldfinch
  13. Great Crested Grebe
  14. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  15. Great Tit
  16. Greenfinch
  17. Greylag Goose
  18. Herring Gull
  19. House Martin
  20. House Sparrow
  21. Jackdaw
  22. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  23. Long-tailed Tit
  24. Magpie
  25. Mallard
  26. Moorhen
  27. Mute Swan
  28. Pied Wagtail (yarrellii)
  29. Pink-footed Goose
  30. Robin
  31. Rook
  32. Sand Martin
  33. Sparrowhawk
  34. Starling
  35. Stock Dove
  36. Swallow
  37. Tufted Duck
  38. Woodpigeon
  39. Wren 

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