Hartsholme Park in Early May

A few days ago (on Bank Holiday Monday) I visited Hartsholme Park to see any young birds that might be present after all of the various mating that had been going on. I took the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the excellent 40-150 f2.8 lens with the 1.4x extender attached. Fortunately for me the sun was behind me giving me the best chance to get decent pictures although the intensity varied quite a bit as the various clouds in the sky moved in front of the sun from time to time.

When I arrived at the water-front the first birds that I saw were the three Grey Herons almost mid-centre of the island near the water as per the image at the top of this blog post.

I took various photos of the usual inhabitants of the lake such as the Black Headed Gull now with its Spring/Summer plumage which shows how this bird got its name:

We also had a number of Moorhens in the area too (I saw no pairs though):

And the Great Crested Grebes were swimming and diving a lot of the time, I have never seen so many as per the last few weeks:

With all of the different birds around they seemed to largely ignore each other, just like this Grebe swimming past the aforementioned Grey Herons:

However, after all of this activity I did see a pair of Greylag Geese with 8 goslings, I do love watching groups of young and adult birds swimming together:

As the Geese and Goslings swam out of view I moved around the lake towards their direction to see if I could get a better look. As I ventured around there were a number of Mallard ducks sleeping at the edge just like this female:

As I was getting myself into a better position to get some photos of the Geese (being careful not to disturbs the ducks), I noticed this squirrel scurry in front of me and perch on top of a tree stump. I couched down and took few photos such as this one:

There were at least two Greylag Geese families; in addition to the parents with 8 goslings there was another family with only 2 goslings, they warned each other to keep away:

After watching the geese for a while I started to go back to my starting place and saw a rabbit scurry away. As usual they are very quick and shy and this was the best photo that I could get. This is what is known as a “butt-shot” but you can see that this is rabbit and it is the best one I have taken at Hartsholme:

Just as I was about to venture around the corner not far from the rabbit I noticed two small birds hopping around the ground and fence, one was a robin on the fence:

The other is a bird that I am not sure of, it looks a bit like a “Dunnock” but it could be female from another species:

After walking around another way to the water-front (my starting position) I took a few photos of the Herons in their nests. There must be dozens of them on the island:

As I was watching a magpie retrieve food from a bin and taking some mediocre shots a squirrel came within a few centimetres of me as I was crouching down. I suspect that he hoped I had some food, I managed a few shots even with the tele+extender combo on the E-M1 – the close focus distance of the lens came into play here. This photo isn’t great but it shows how close he was:

What I was hoping to capture were some ducklings but I didn’t see any around in the near vicinity but I did see a family of them (I think) swim from one end of the lake to the other to the far right of my current position. So I decided to head in that direction to see if they could be found. Unfortunately when I got there they were nowhere to be seen, other birds were there such as adult Mallard ducks and Common Coots:

After a while another Moorhen showed up and started to wade through the vegetation at the water’s edge as follows:

So I decided to head back to the car and I noticed something that I must have passed (and not noticed) on my way to my last position. Not far from the edge of the path in the water was this Common Coots’ nest. On the nest was one bird positioning various plants, twigs and leaves around the nest as well as another Coot that had been collecting them in its beak and passing them to the other coot for the nest, it was joy to watch:

I took one final photo as I left:

It was a great session at the lake and I look forward to my next visit there. I took a few videos and I might put them up on Youtube when I get some spare time. This post has taken far too long to create and publish.


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