Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Day at the Mill

With the prolonged cold weather many ducks are dispersing to the river so are getting a few different species showing up on the Kempston Mill Stretch with Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Goosander all present in the last few days, along with the usual Mallards and Mandarins. Little Grebe are also pretty easy to spot along the river although their number were reduced by one today when a Grey Heron took one just downstream from the Mill bridge.

Grey Heron eating Little Grebe

Not much Christmas cheer for that Little Grebe, but a nice Christmas lunch for the Heron. In fact it seemed to be a day for the hunters. Another Little Grebe had eyes bigger than it's stomach a little further downstream but the "eyes bigger than stomach" prize goes to a Cormorant which had caught a Chub that was as big as itself. After several attempts to get a better grip on the fish the prize was eventually lost, and I think the Chub survived!

Cormorant battling with Chub

Earlier in the week I spotted a Black-headed Gull which had died on the ice on the river at Biddenham Loop. This morning a pair of wings was all that remained.

Later in the afternoon I spotted a Sparrowhawk in the Garden plucking a Starling. After it flew off I nipped out to find a pile of feathers and a beak.

Nature is truly "red in tooth and claw" this Christmas.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 19/12/2010

After all the snow yesterday I was pretty pessimistic about the survey at Box End Park this morning, but to my surprise the long walk through the snow was worth while. The lakes were 100% frozen but the river was still flowing freely so most of the wildfowl were on there. The Lapwings and Gulls were all sat out in the middle of the ice on the north lake:

Black-headed Gull 24
Common Gull 1
Cormorant 1
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 43
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 57
Meadow Pipit Present
Moorhen 5
Mute Swan 1
Pied/White Wagtail 1

Also, on arrival at the park 7 Redwing flew over and settled in the hedgerow opposite the entrance.

On the way to the park I stopped at Kempston Mill where the 2 regular male Mandarins had been joined by a female, the first I have seen there for over a year. There were also 2 Little Grebe on the river, one at the Mill and the other a little way downstream. A pair of Mute Swans and a Juvenile and the usual melee of Mallards were also present at the Mill.