bretton diary

nature notes from the west riding

hornets

 

img_6719_edited-1

One of Bretton’s iconic landmarks has become home to a colony of Europe’s largest wasp species. Hornets are on the increase in the north of England but this is the first time I have found a nest at the park although to be honest I’ve not spent a lot of time looking. This bunch are hard to miss though as they buzz around an old woodpecker hole just beneath the bronze man at popular Cascade Bridge.

IMG_6710_edited-1

Contrary to popular belief these insects are not the aggresive, out of control, sting anything that gets in their way villains people think and with only a few hundred colony members per nest are a lot less likely than the Common Wasp to be infesting beer gardens at this time of year. Having said that I took these pictures with a long lens from a respectful distance  – my love of this insect family isn’t quite on the Chris Packham scale!

IMG_6708_edited-1

Advertisements

September 12, 2009 Posted by | insects | | Leave a comment

fisher king

It’s that scruffy time of year in the bird world and even Britain’s  brightest and best are suffering. There are at least four Kingfishers around Upper Lake at the minute and it’s the youngsters that are putting their parents to shame.

Kingfisher - web edit

The old male (above) is looking particularly out of sorts but at least he’s playing ball. Four visits to the perch in under an hour is some sort of new European and Commonwealth record I believe!

Kingfisher 3 - small_filtered copy

A pair of Cormorants continue to menace the fish population and I have a new friend in the hide. A little Wood Mouse is getting bolder with each visit and I hope it won’t be long before some pictures are possible. A Bank Vole is now regular there too if you have food for him, and is best seen scuttling around by the entrance.

Cormorant 1 -Small_edited-1_filtered

August 13, 2009 Posted by | birds | , | 1 Comment

cormorant

Cormorant Web_filtered

The couple of semi-resident Cormorants spend most of their day log-loafing, but when they go fishing – they go fishing! Sadly this battle royal ended with a fatally wounded fish that the bird left at the bottom of the lake. Cormorants have earned themselves a reputation with fishermen for this sort of behaviour – it seems their eyes are very often bigger than their stomachs.

GCG 2 Web_filtered

Not a lot else going on this morning but it’s heartening to see the Great Crested Grebes are staying put this year after their long absence last summer. Their first brood are still about but are more or less self-sufficient now so it’s possible that a second may be on the cards with plenty of time left.

GCG 1 Web_filtered

July 11, 2009 Posted by | birds | , | Leave a comment

kingfisher & wigeon

KINGFISHER 1_filtered

Two hours of boredom followed by two minutes of excitement is often how my mornings at Bretton go. I was on the point of leaving when six Wigeon suddenly appeared (a new bird for me at the Lakes),  quickly upstaged by the male Kingfisher using multiple perches just a few feet away – hallelujah!

Kingfisher 6_filtered copy

These eclipsing drake Wigeon were a real surprise, especially at this time of year, and whilst it’s possible in the dim and distant past I’ve encountered them before at Bretton, my rather inadequate notes make no mention. 

WIGEON_filtered

The Common Terns were about briefly again today but were muscled out by this spoiling Black-headed Gull. The gulls hardly ever visit the Upper Lake except to make a bloody nuisance of themselves it seems!

B H GULL_filtered

June 30, 2009 Posted by | birds | , , | Leave a comment

tern

Common Terns are irregular visitors to the Lakes, so to have a pair putting in daily appearances this month has been a special treat.  There’s no shortage of small fish for them here not to mention perches from which to catch and eat them but the birds are of course at their best when in flight or spectacularly diving head first at their prey. Unfortunately armed with the wrong lens to capture this, you’ll have to be content with this rather mundane pose but rest assured I’ll be back to try my luck again soon.

IMG_5860_filtered

One of the several pairs of Tufted Ducks have successfully reared a small brood in an old Coot nest. The ducklings definitely have the edge in the cuteness stakes over the more familiar Mallards I think.

IMG_5898_filtered

On Cascade Bridge a rather irate pair of Grey Wagtails gave me the feeling I wasn’t wanted. They’ve used the bridge to nest under for many years so I can only assume some recently fledged chicks were close by.  

Grey Wagtail 1

June 23, 2009 Posted by | birds | , , | Leave a comment

grebe family

IMG_5779_filtered copy

After pulling their disappearing act for a couple of weeks it’s good to see the Great Crested Grebe family are still in one piece. All four youngsters are doing well but will continue to make demands on their parents for a good while yet even though their submarine skills are developing fast.

IMG_5743_filtered copy

Not much else to report except that two heron nests are still occupied and a Common Tern continues to visit the lakes. The regular male Great Spotted Woodpecker at the feeding station was prowling around for a free lunch again this morning and certainly earned his nuts with some beautiful poses.

  GSW_edited-1_filtered

June 17, 2009 Posted by | birds | , | Leave a comment

mipit

Only a few Meadow Pipits are present on the periphery of the park but are nevertheless  worth seeking out at this time of year as they perform their remarkable parachute displays.

IMG_5706_filtered copy

With young scurrying around in the grass at the moment the adults are often very approachable as they do their best to keep your attention away from the vulnerable chicks.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | birds | | Leave a comment

bank vole

This little fella’s been hanging around the feeding station for weeks now but always a little quick for me. Today though, with inhibitions left in the burrow, he treated us to a stunning performance just a few feet away. Although one of our commenest rodents, Bank Voles are still very difficult to get decent views of as their predators are many and it doesn’t pay to attract too much attention.

IMG_5648_edited-1_filtered copy

In Menagerie Wood a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers are busy feeding young in their tree-top nest hole. The chicks are just a few days from fledging and are making a real racket everytime the adults appear. As well as me the noise also attracts unwanted attention from neighbouring Jackdaws and Kestrels – the male is seen here telling them to shut up basically!  

IMG_5604_filtered copy

Something rather nasty has happened to this young Grey Heron though importantly the flight feathers are still in full working order. It might just be a fishing accident of course but a more miserable looking bird I’ve never seen!

  IMG_5637_filtered copy

June 2, 2009 Posted by | birds, mammals | , , | Leave a comment

grebes on the brink

Just days to go now before the happy event and both adult Great Crested Grebes are in continuous close attendance. The four eggs have been incubated through fair weather and foul for over three weeks in a nest placed at last year’s partially successful site.

IMG_5499_filtered copy

 It is noticable with grebes of several species that placement of the nest is important to maximize the benefits gained by close proximity to other territorial birds. Black-necks for example will nest within a Black-headed Gull colony for the protection it affords them and I can’t help thinking that this pair of Great Crests have deliberately chosen to be as near to the local Mute Swan pair as possible.   

Orange Tip

Butterfly numbers are on the increase and numerous Green-veined Whites, Small Tortoiseshells and my favourite  Orange Tips were surprisingly approachable. In Menagerie Wood the Garden Warblers are finally back on territory, some two weeks behind schedule.  Most Grey Heron chicks are wing-exercising now and will be ready for their maiden flights any day. So whilst many small passerines are just starting their cycle, these tree-top giants are nearing the end of their’s for another year with  summer barely started.   

 herons

Two Tawny Owl chicks were calling vociferously from very near the path through Bridge Royd Wood this  morning but whilst photos would have been possible of the grounded owlets, my self-preservation gene told me to keep walking. Stories of curious folk losing eyes whilst trying to help ‘stranded’ Tawny chicks are well documented. The parent birds are always watching and will viciously attack anything regardless of size that gets within a yard or two of their offspring.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | birds, insects | , , | Leave a comment

bridge royd wood

img_5082_filtered-copy

 I’ll be away for a while and the bluebells might well be past their best by my return. They’re not quite there just yet but still a sight to behold at Bretton right now.

willow-warbler1

Warblers were keeping a low profile this morning with the Garden variety particularly scarce. Both Willow Warbler (above) and Chiffchaff seem well into their breeding cycle already – this bird was preoccupied with driving rivals from it’s territory whilst his mate sat tight in the brambles below.

img_5160_filtered-copy

The Great Crested Grebes have decided to build their nest on the site of last year’s – right in front of the hide – so another chance of obtaining cute family shots may well be possible after all. The Mute Swans too are incubating in a favoured spot, which keeps the male very busy dispersing the Canadas all over the lake – hilarious stuff!

mute-swan

April 29, 2009 Posted by | birds, flowers, landscapes | , , , | Leave a comment

first day of spring

img_5046_edited-1

It’s been a little while since my last visit and consequently the changes at Bretton are quite apparent. The heronries for example, deserted and desolate a mere three weeks ago, are now throng with birds. Egg laying has already begun in the untidy tree-top shacks, and whilst the females sit tight, their partners are kept busy collecting yet more nesting material – albeit superfluous to the structure. The reason, according to studies, is that the bigger and more numerous the sticks brought in, the more receptive the females become to the males’ amorous advances –  i.e. the better the pressy, the more sex you get!

img_4654_filtered

At the top of Pikeley Hill and right on cue, the first Chiffchaffs have returned from their African jaunt and are marking out territories with repetitive  song. These are the first migrants to arrive for the new breeding season and are at their easiest to see right now before the leaves appear. It’s always difficult to get pictures for the first couple of weeks though as the birds spend a lot of time in the tree tops, but it’s customary for me to snap the first I see each year so here it is. Better images will appear soon!

chiffchaff

At the feeding station near the hide, trade is brisk as birds are coming into peak condition. Maintaining strength is key if they are to attract mates, and topping up body weight now is important – especially for those that will be spending a good deal of the Spring  cramped in a tree hole like this female Great Spotted Woodpecker. She was certainly piling on the calories this morning, consuming peanuts faster than I could deal them. Her problem might be squeezing in there when the time comes! 

img_4739_filtered1

 img_4677_filtered

From the top: Grey Heron, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker & Nuthatch

March 23, 2009 Posted by | birds | , , , | 5 Comments

coalie

bretton-210209-006

Many of the Grey Herons are now paired up and are starting to repair their nests after the battering they received this winter.  The next few weeks will see a hive of activity around both heronries providing plenty of opportunities for hopefully some dramatic pictures. But in the meantime this Coal Tit was the only success in a truncated visit to the park this morning.

bretton-210209-009

swan

February 23, 2009 Posted by | birds | | Leave a comment

feeding frenzy

img_4889_edited-1

A bitterly cold night should have meant plenty of action around the feeders this morning, but stocks had run dry and it was just lucky I had a bag of mixed seed in my bag.

img_8642_edited-1_filtered

Within minutes it was mayhem. Three Grey Squirrels took the lion’s share but a visiting Great Spotted Woodpecker got a look in, and stayed just long enough for me to grab a pic or two.

img_8693_edited-1_filtered

Too quick for the camera though was a Sparrowhawk strike that nearly reduced the Jackdaw population by one. Unfortunatley for the large female sprawk, every corvid in the park came to the rescue and the lucky victim narrowly escaped during the scrum.

Todays Roll call: Great Crested Grebe (1), Grey Heron (6), Mute Swan (1), Canada Goose (20+), Teal (7), Mallard (23), Pochard (3), Tufted Duck (13), Goosander (5), Pheasant (1), Coot (10+), Lapwing (3), Blackheaded Gull (100+), Sparrowhawk (1), Wood Pigeon (130+), Stock Dove (3), Kingfisher (2), Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (5), Wren (2), Dunnock (1), Robin (2), Blackbird (20+), Mistle Thrush (1), Song Thrush (1), Redwing (1),  Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (6), Nuthatch (3), Jay (3), Jackdaw (100+), Rook ( 75+), Carrion Crow (5), Chaffinch (2)

January 31, 2009 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , | 3 Comments

hundred up

img_4863_edited-1

A typically brief encounter with a Woodcock this morning took my total number of bird species recorded at Bretton to one hundred. I don’t know which one of us was the more terrified as my right foot nearly squashed the invisible snoozing wader. By the time I’d regained my composure the bird was half way to the horizon –  so not even a record shot I’m afraid.

img_8390_edited-1_filtered

One of the three remaining Mute Swan cygnets on Upper Lake

img_8463_edited-1_filtered

Great Crested Grebe on Upper Lake

It was back to normal on the de-iced lakes and a dose of bright sunshine for an hour almost hinted at winter’s demise, but despite noting two separate pairs of Collared Doves nest building this week, it’s far from over.

img_8423_edited-1_filtered

Blue Tit by the Upper Lake hide

img_8476_edited-1_filtered

Tufted Ducks on Upper Lake

Todays Roll call: Great Crested Grebe (2), Grey Heron (2), Mute Swan (5), Mallard (15), Pochard (4), Tufted Duck (9), Moorhen (1), Coot ( 6), Blackheaded Gull (50+), Wood Pigeon (30+), Kingfisher (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Wren (2), Robin (2), Blackbird (25+), Mistle Thrush (1), Redwing (4), Long-tailed Tit (8+), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (6), Great Tit (6), Nuthatch (4), Treecreeper (1), Jay (2), Magpie (2), Jackdaw (30+), Rook ( 45+), Carrion Crow (3), Chaffinch (4), Goldfinch (3), Siskin (80+)

January 17, 2009 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , , | 2 Comments

frozen out

img_4809_edited-1_filtered

Plummeting temperatures had succeeded in freezing over both lakes. All but a handful of hardy Mallards and the swan family had disappeared. A steady stream of winter thrushes overhead and the distant sound of drumming woodpeckers were this mornings only highlights.

img_8190_edited-1_filtered

       Top: Lower Lake from Cascade Bridge        Above: European Robin         Below: Upper Lake from Bath Wood

img_4811_edited-2

January 12, 2009 Posted by | birds, landscapes | | 1 Comment

goldie

Unfortunately Goldfinches are not regular visitors to the feeders yet but they are frequently encountered around the sheep fields and horse paddocks bordering the park.

img_8321_edited-1_filtered

Small flocks or ‘charms’ roam the rough pasture land in search of weed seeds at this time of year,  sometimes hooking up with Redpolls and Siskins to exploit the lakeside alder mast.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | birds | | 3 Comments

bullfinch

Although plentiful throughout the park Bullfinches are notoriously difficult to get close to. However during spells of bitterly cold weather they will occasionally take the easy option and show up at peanut feeders.

bf1_filtered

This bird was able to collect crumbs from the edge of a feeder without alighting – expertly hovering just long enough to grab a beakful.

bf2_filtered

January 3, 2009 Posted by | birds | | 1 Comment

waxwings

Several flocks of these itinerant raiders are on the loose in the county at the moment. Usually to be found in town and city centres they can nevertheless turn up just about anywhere as they roam around in search of the next rowan berry cache.

wax_filtered

Whilst not strictly within the boundaries of Bretton, these birds almost certainly overflew the park hence their inclusion, though they won’t make my official list – poised as it is right now!

January 1, 2009 Posted by | birds | | Leave a comment

bleak

img_8190_edited-1

Cold, dismal and very quiet describes Bretton this morning – even the birds must have been Christmas shopping, so just a couple of token pics from the hide today.

nuthatch-sep

Today’s Rollcall: Great Crested Grebe (1), Mute Swan (7), Canada Goose (75+),  Goosander (15), Mallard (30), Tufted Duck (14), Teal (7),  Grey Heron (1),  Coot (3), Pheasant (1), Black-headed Gull (100+), Wood Pigeon (10+), Kingfisher (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Robin (4), Wren (2), Dunnock (2), Blackbird (4), Mistle Thrush (4), Redwing (20+), Great Tit (6), Blue Tit (6), Coal Tit (2), Nuthatch (4),  Jay (2), Carrion Crow (2), Rook (50+),  Jackdaw (30+), Chaffinch (5),  Goldfinch (1), Bullfinch (3) – RECORDED 20/12/08 @ 8.30AM – 10.30AM

December 22, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | | Leave a comment

barney

img_8000_filtered

One of my favourite individuals at Bretton is Barney the feral Barnacle Goose. He hangs out with the Canadas through the winter months and can usually be found near the hall or grazing the fields of Middle Park. Several geese of other species, in particular Greylag and Pink-foot – and last winter a hybrid Emperor, have joined the herd in recent years but never stick around for long. Barney on the other hand loves Bretton and it will be a sad day when he’s no longer strutting around these elegant grounds. 

img_8015_edited-1_filtered

Much of Upper Lake remains frozen meaning very little wildfowl interest but the feeders around the hide continue to do brisk business. A newcomer this morning was this very shy female Siskin. Only present for a minute or so the bird never plucked up enough courage to come out of the rhododendron so this was as good a view as I could manage. Nice to see an unfamiliar face though!

nuthatch-siskin1

Today’s Rollcall: Mute Swan (7), Canada Goose (75+), Barnacle Goose (1), Goosander (12), Mallard (31), Shoveler (3), Tufted Duck (6), Teal (4),  Grey Heron (2),  Coot (11), Moorhen (2), Pheasant (1), Black-headed Gull (70+), Wood Pigeon (10+), Kingfisher (2), Robin (2), Wren (2), Dunnock (2), Blackbird (4), Great Tit (4), Blue Tit (4), Coal Tit (1), Nuthatch (3),  Jay (2), Carrion Crow (4), Rook (5), Magpie (3), Jackdaw (45+), Chaffinch (1), Siskin (2), Bullfinch (2) – RECORDED 6/12/08 @ 8.30AM – 11AM

December 8, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , , | Leave a comment

iced

 

img_7791_edited-1_filtered

Both lakes were iced over this morning after a perishing night. A thick covering of mist kept the sun at bay and so temperatures remained below freezing until at least noon.

img_7894_edited-1_filtered

Activity at the feeders was non-stop and frenzied with the largest number of Great & Blue Tits so far this winter. A Sparrowhawk was attracted by the melee but remained perched out of sight during most of my visit.

img_7836_edited-1_filtered

Poor visibility made a nonsense of my attempted wildfowl count so there are no figures worth posting this weekend.

img_7878_edited-1_filtered

November 29, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , | Leave a comment

a winter’s (long) tail

menagerie-wood

There was a real feel of winter about Bretton today as plummeting temperatures saw good numbers of the more vulnerable birds desperately feeding up to guard against the cold.

 long-tailed-tit_filtered

Fearless Long-tailed Tits were out in force this morning after a very cold night

Wildfowl species too are on the increase with three times as many Goosander as last week, though the Teal had mysteriously vanished.

blue-tit_filtered

Today’s Rollcall:Great Crested Grebe (14), Mute Swan (9), Canada Goose (70+), Goosander (68), Mallard (52), Tufted Duck (15), Pochard (3), Cormorant (1), Grey Heron (6), Kestrel (1), Coot (13), Moorhen (4), Pheasant (8), Black-headed Gull (100+), Wood Pigeon (60+), Kingfisher (1), Robin (5), Wren (3), Dunnock (1), Blackbird (10+), Redwing (30+), Mistle Thrush (1), Goldcrest (2), Long-tailed Tit (10+), Great Tit (8), Blue Tit (10+), Coal Tit (2), Nuthatch (3), Treecreeper (1), Carrion Crow (4), Rook (50+), Magpie (3), Jackdaw (50+), Chaffinch (7), Lesser Redpoll (1), Bullfinch (6) – RECORDED 22/11/08 @ 8.30AM – 11AM

great-tit-2_filtered1

ct2_filtered

Great & Coal Tits await their turn at the feeding station

November 22, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , | 3 Comments

waiting for winter

No sign of the Mandarins or for that matter the Great Spotted Woodpecker that’s been frequenting the hide feeders recently so I had to rely on the trees to bring a little colour to the diary this week.

east-coast-and-nov-diary-0101

This year’s cygnets are allowed out unaccompanied now – their parents were taking a well deserved break on Lower Lake this morning. 

November is traditionally the best month for finding the elusive Hawfinch in the park, but a search in less than ideal conditions drew a blank this morning. I’ve yet to get any photos of them here and indeed have only seen them in two of the last five years. 

Another species that hasn’t materialised so far this autumn is the Brambling. These Scandinavian birds can turn up in great numbers some years and the rusty tones of the males look right at home amongst the fallen Beech-mast at Bretton.    

untitled-1

Blackbird & Coot get amongst the autumn leaves

Goosander numbers continue to build (28+) though the birds are staying out of range for the time being. More drakes have been arriving this last couple of weeks and it shouldn’t be too long before they’re feeling at home enough to pose.  

tits-1

Great & Coal Tits in the absence of anything more interesting

The feeders are still attracting the three commoner titmice but no visits yet from either Willow or Long-tailed Tit, both of which are resident. Perhaps when the weather gets a little colder, so in the meantime…

Today’s Rollcall: Little Grebe (2), Great Crested Grebe (1), Mute Swan (7), Canada Goose (80+), Goosander (28+), Mallard (40+), Tufted Duck (15+), Teal (1), Cormorant (4), Grey Heron (5), Sparrowhawk (1), Coot (10+), Moorhen (2), Pheasant (2), Black-headed Gull (100+), Wood Pigeon (80+), Stock Dove (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Robin (2), Wren (1), Dunnock (1), Blackbird (10+), Redwing (50+), Mistle Thrush (2), Goldcrest (2), Long-tailed Tit (10+), Great Tit (5), Blue Tit (10+), Coal Tit (1), Jay (3), Carrion Crow (2), Rook (100+), Jackdaw (50+), Chaffinch (4), Bullfinch (3) – RECORDED 8/11/08 @ 8.30AM – 10.30AM

November 8, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , , , | Leave a comment

cold snap

bret

Wildfowl numbers have increased sharply with the onset of colder weather. Sixteen Goosander (15 girls and just the one boy) have assembled on Lower Lake whilst three drake Mandarin (below) are doing their best to brighten things up on the smaller water.

Three Cormorants are still present on the dead trees at Upper Lake and the two drake Pochards continue by Cascade Bridge. A handful of Teal did a fly-by and Tufted Duck numbers are rising on both lakes. 

  

Blue Tits by far outnumber other species around the hide at the moment. The birds are particularly sprightly now their moults are complete – this one was even doing his rocking dance complete with raised crest for the camera!

Today’s Rollcall: Little Grebe (4), Mute Swan (7), Goosander (16), Mallard (60+), Tufted Duck (35+), Teal (5), Pochard (2), Mandarin (3), Cormorant (3), Grey Heron (10+), Coot (30+), Moorhen (3), Pheasant (9), Grey Partridge (6), Black-headed Gull (100+), Kingfisher (1), Robin (3), Wren (2), Blackbird (2), Mistle Thrush (1), Goldcrest (2), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (6), Jay (8), Carrion Crow (6), Rook (25+), Jackdaw (10+), Chaffinch (1)

October 25, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , | 1 Comment

autumn colour

A flat, grey and birdless start to the day again but the sun got out eventually, making the most of the wonderful colour that transforms the park at this time of year.

Lack of activity around the hide meant a serch for subjects elsewhere this morning. Bretton has always been a good site for fungi in autumn and some fine examples of the bracket variety were adorning many Silver Birch around the west end of Upper Lake. 

October 11, 2008 Posted by | landscapes | , | Leave a comment

kingfisher brightens wet bretton

Eighteen hours continuous rain meant a muddy tramp around Bretton this morning. The emergence of a little sunshine around lunchtime was cause for some celebration as a few of the residents began to appear.

 

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

 A male Kingfisher and fiesty Wren were the most obvious and least camera-shy of the visitors to the hide. Last week’s peanut butter had vanished, to the dismay of a skulking female Blackcap – I must remember to bring some next time. 

Wren & Autumn Leaves

Wren & Autumn Leaves

October 5, 2008 Posted by | birds | , , | 1 Comment

sunshine & peanut butter

The weather we should have been getting in July & August has finally arrived.  Personally I appreciate it more at this time of year when the light is less harsh and the temperature kept in check.

Daybreak from the bridleway at Middle Park

 

Someone’s been spreading peanut butter on the trees around the hide and whilst it looks pretty unsightly the tits and nuthatches were loving it. I might try this out myself though would need to overcome my phobia of the disgusting stuff before I could handle any! 

Great Tit & Nuthatch at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

Great Tit & Nuthatch at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

The first Goosanders of the autumn had arrived since last weekend with three females showing distantly on Upper Lake. The birds will get closer to the hide as winter progresses so I won’t publish todays record shots.

Blue Tit & Mute Swan at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

Blue Tit & Mute Swan at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

The five Mute Swan youngsters are becoming bolder and have started to venture away from their parents. I always think of swan families as the most disciplined amongst birds. Rarely are the cygnets out of line but this one’s table manners could do to be addressed!

Lower Lake from Cascade Bridge

 

September 27, 2008 Posted by | birds, landscapes | , , , | 2 Comments

at summer’s end

September is arguably the most spectacular month at Bretton with it’s unique combination of light and colour. But for the naturalist, with flora dying back and migrant birds departing, it’s a quiet place – a place in limbo, waiting for those first frosts to finally put paid to the summer. The woodland is almost devoid of birdsong now – only the territorial Robin and ebullient Wren keep their voices in battle-readiness for the winter struggle.

Nuthatch & Coal Tit at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

Nuthatch & Coal Tit at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

From under the thinning canopy, acorns are released without the assistance of even the slightest breeze to rain painfully down on the unsuspecting. Ripening beech-mast attracts hundreds if not thousands of itinerant Woodpigeons whilst resident grey squirrels work ceaselessly in an attempt to harvest enough of the bounty for the dark months ahead. And thankfully it’s once more time to go to the park armed with a rather more exotic source of nutrition as moulting tits and finches change their dietary requirements due to the increasing lack of protein on the menu. A mixed bag of ground seed from the supermarket does the trick and despite warm, still conditions this morning they were queuing up for the stuff! A couple of natural perches just outside the hide are ideal for birds waiting their turn and photos too of course.

Kingfisher, Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

Kingfisher at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

It wasn’t long before Nuthatches plus Coal, Blue & Great Tits were joining me for a spot of breakfast indoors. A Wood Mouse and Common Shrew paid brief visits today, though as ever were too quick for me. Both species are frequently to be found in and around the hide at this time of year as the brambles growing along side are a decent source of fruit and insects.  

Dunnock & Little Grebe at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

Dunnock & Little Grebe at Bretton Lakes YWT Reserve

Two drake Pochards were recently arrived, representing the first of hopefully many wintering fowl. Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and of course Goosander should be putting in some time here over the coming weeks and with any luck a repeat performance from last year’s Mandarin. Also on the lake the Kingfishers continue to entertain and seem to love their newly created perch. Little Grebes are at their most numerous right now with this year’s offspring venturing much nearer the hide than their worldly-wise parents dare.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | birds | , , , , | 2 Comments