Tag Archives: young swans

River Witham in May

As I have said in some of my other Blog posts we are quite lucky in Lincoln to have many parks, pools, rivers and lakes and these are inhabited by a whole host of different wildlife species although birds are the most common and visible. As part of my “keep-fit” regime (limited though it is) I occasionally walk into town form home. This is between 4km and 5km depending on the route I take often culminating in the Starbucks on the High Street; as I walk quickly I’m quite warm at the end and I enjoy a Mocha Frappuccino Light which isn’t too high in syns (see the Slimming World website for details on what a “syn” is).

Although I walk rapidly I do look around on my journeys and so note anything of interest, I have even modified my route on occasion if there is something to see. My route into town takes me down Brant Road onto Newark Road (aka A1434) which then joins the A15. The two roads turn into a short dual carriageway called St. Catherine’s which after a round-about splits off into the High-Street and South Park Avenue. I follow the High-Street route into town.

At the bottom of the high street (just after the afore mentioned roundabout) is a pedestrian route to the right called Altham Terrace which runs adjacent to an off-shoot of the River Witham called Sincil Dike. On the opposite bank that is inaccessible to people is a large swan nest that had a female Mute Swan as the occupant (as well as no doubt one or more eggs).
I had wanted to take pictures of the swan and hopefully see how many eggs she had for some time and just over a week ago I made time to takes some photo’s. As I had walked from home to this Altham Terrace, I first had a quick drink of some coke I brought with me. The wasn’t much action so after the drink I took out my camera (OM-D E-M1 Mark-II + 300mm f4 IS PRO lens) and took a few shots. I waited for a bit and apart from some preening by her and the male “cob” there wasn’t much to see.

After taking a few shots of the two swans I carried on down Altham Terrace and saw my first set of ducklings this year, in total I saw five families of ducks and ducklings. In my enthusiasm, I had my shutter speed set too low (1/250 sec) so my first shots of the ducklings are all blurred as they were moving too fast.
As you progress down Altham Terrace / Sincil Dike after a small weir there is a river crossroads of Sincil Dike and the River Witham. Altham Terrace joins a road of the same name after crossing a pedestrian foot bridge. If you follow the River Witham to the right (North) it ultimately goes into town and eventually flows into the Brayford Pool in the centre of town. If you go left (South) the river flows towards the junction of Brant Road and Newark Road. You can either walk down the bank of the river or alternatively back from the bank is a tarmacked path (perfect for bikes). This has led to a completely new route which from the end of Brant Road and town.

Now onto the photographs…
My first three photographs are around the Mallard ducks; a small family, a female and 3 ducklings swam onto one of the banks that had some other Mallards there and there was an altercation between the mother and one of the males:

Whilst this was happening the ducklings took cover:

However, it all turned out well and the family carried on down the river foraging for food along the way:

Near where I was standing watching this (the junction of the two rivers) was a railing where a House Sparrow was collecting food and I caught a shot whilst it was perched on these railings:

When it jumped to the ground I took a couple more shots but that low shutter-speed caught me out and the bird was moving too quickly. However, a female Blackbird landed not far from the Sparrow and it wasn’t moving too fast so I managed a few nice shots like this one:

During all the commotion and the large number of birds in the water a Mute Swan that was swimming down (probably a Male) puffed himself up as follows, needless to say the other birds got out of its way:

Once I started to walk down the river towards home I saw other Mallard duck familes, Common Coots and Moorhens such as this one:
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What I didn’t expect to see though were any Grey Herons such as this one:

In fact, there were two Herons present, this one was on the other bank:

As this was on my side I walked slowly towards it and I managed to take a few head-shots as it looked over the tall grass. Not long after this the first Heron (on the opposite) bank took off and a few seconds later this one also flew away, this was my best effort and it would have been great if the other wing had been in frame too:

I think this a combination of my (lack of) skill and too much focal length and/or being too close.

As I said earlier this will most likely be my preferred way into town now as it is picturesque, offer photographic opportunities and is less polluted tank to the lack of cars.

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Hartsholme Park in September

Back in September I went to Hartsholme Park to see what was going on (on the wildlife front). The young Common Coots had left their nest but there were a lot of young ones swimming around all parts of the lake. In addition to the Coots we also had a family of swans who enjoyed being fed bread (not the best food for them) from passers by. The grey Squirrels (who do not hibernate) were ever present and always present a good photo opportunity too.

We also had a large number of young Great Crested Grebe swimming around and diving form time to time for food.

Young Common Coot:
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Young Common Coots in symmetry:
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Mute Swan Family:
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Grey Squirrel feeding:
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Great Crested Grebe young:
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Nice Portrait of Male Mallard Duck:
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The birds don’t mind being around others when there’s food on the offering:
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My favourite shot of the day, I have seen dogs look like this when the want the food you have:
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Once the food enters the water it’s a free for all:
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Wildlife on the Baron Photo Shoot

Whilst taking pictures of the Lincoln Barons back in June which you can read about here, I was trying my best to only take pictures of the Barons. However, when I got to Baron 22. Roger de Montbegon (Lincolnshire Waterways Baron) I noticed that there was a lot of birds around and I couldn’t resist in taking a few pictures of them. Here are the 4 best pictures:

Canada Goose:
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White Feral Pigeon:
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Greylag Goose (well it’s related to it anyway):
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Mute Swan and Cygnet:
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Hartsholme Park – Early June

I try to visit Hartsholme Park at least once a fortnight during this time of year as there is a lot of activity, you can read about my previous visit here. Unfortunately, Richard was unable to join me due to family matters so I was alone like last time, although I prefer taking photographs with a friend it did allow me to go much earlier than normal. I arrived there at 07:45; which was fortunate as I had a lot to do on Sunday. I also had plenty of time to walk around the lake and get more photographs than normal.

Rather than provide a running commentry in chronological order of what I saw I have tried a different tact in this post. I have collated all of my favourite photographs by species and will provide an introductory piece to each one. Hopefully this will make them easier to write and hence get this post out much earlier than I would have – hopefully you’ll be reading this Monday morning. Please let me know if you prefer this style or would rather me revert back to the older way of writing.

Enjoy 🙂

Grey Herons:
During my last visit I thought that the Herons had vacated the central island of Hartsholme Lake but it was clear that there were still a few nests in use as evidenced by my first photo below. There were also a number of solitary Herons dotted around the island like in the second photo. One photo that isn’t here is the one that got away, whilst I was checking the time on my phone, one landed only a few feet from me and before I could put the phone away and take a shot it flew off!

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Greylag Geese:
The Greylag geese were their usual vocal selves on Sunday and did a lot of flying, honking and not much else. I have seen Greylag Geese goslings on Hartsholme Lake in early May this year but not for some time , I wonder where they are?
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Common Coot:
In my previous post I pointed out that there was a Common Coots nest which had the female on the nest and the male bringing twigs and other items to shore up the nest. Since then the eggs have hatched and think that there are now 4 or 5 chicks. They aren’t the prettiest things and look like minature plucked chickens at the moment but they will soon grow and become the back and white-beaked Common coot that is (as its namesake suggests) is very Common on water ways in the UK.

The female was still on the nest trying to keep all of the chicks together and the male was going off and fetching food for them, in a few days the adults will split the young in to two groups and each one look after one of the groups. These birds can fly after 55 days. I apologise for the large number of photos but it was a joty to watch the two birds and the young chicks in action.
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Magpie:
Not far from the Coots nest, this magpie landed and was moving about quite a bit so I decided to take a few photos of him/her as I don’t have many magpie photographs at all. In totals I saw 5 or 6 of them so that’s Silver or Gold!
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Great Crested Grebe:
There are still a large number of Great Crested Grebes on the lake and I am still trying to capture the illusive chick (or chicks) on a mother’s back – no such luck. However this one was relatively close and I do like the action shot of him/her as it plunged out of the water.
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Mute Swan:
Like most waterways there are a pair of Mute Swans on the lake, these were luckier than the St.Marks swan in that they have 3 cygnets (which is still very low), I don’t think that this can be a good year for Mute Swans.
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Canada Geese:
These are the first Canada Geese goslings I have seen this year.
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Mallard Ducks:
And at last I have seen some young ducks although I wouldn’t call them ducklings any more
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I had a good time at Hartsholme Park today but I must watch the ISO a lot more; some of the shots I took are unusable as they are very noisy thanks to the very high ISO setting. to help combat this in the future I have adjusted my auto ISO setting so that it doesn’t go quite as high.

Lincoln Swans Update 7 (6th June 2015)

This will be the final Swans Update, my previous post can be found here.

As it was Saturday I thought that I would take a quick bus ride into Lincoln City, check out the swans and have a quick chat with Lee at the High Street London Camera Exchange store about next week’s LCE Photo Week. Just before you get to the bus station the bus goes down Portland street and this is where I dismounted the bus and started to walk to the St.Marks swan nest just past the Firth road Sorting Office.

When I got to the nest I was surprised to see that the 3 abandoned eggs were still present on the nest. I looked around and could not see any swans or cygnets, I waited a few minutes but there was nothing to see. I decided to head towards the University nest. On the way are a number of small bridges across the river; I checked the river at the nearest bridge to the nest and then noticed two swans and a single cygnet swimming towards the nest.

I quickly got the camera out of my Urban Photo Sling 250 and headed back towards the nest. It was very hard to capture the cygnet in the water as there were many reeds and 2 honking great swans 🙂 in the way. After a short while the cygnet ventured ashore and went straight for the nest.
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Once there the cygnet like the Cobb and Pen decided that a thorough preening session was in order:
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Don’t forget the back, helps with the itch back there:
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Must not forget the leg:
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Preening is very tiresome, i’ll just have a quick nap:
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After taking far too many shots of the cygnet I decided to check out the University Swans nest. On the way I noticed this Pied Wagtail land in front of me, this shot was cropped quite a bit as I couldn’t get much closer. The bird was very quick and jittery as I got closer he flew off:
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When I arrived at the University Swans nest there were no swans and no eggs, although there were some pieces of egg-shell around so something “might” have hatched or they were abandoned and a predator had them?

So I carried on towards the Brayford Pool to see if I could see a small family of swans with 3 to 5 cygnets. There were a pair of swans on the boat launching area sans cygnets and a large family of swans and cygnets in the centre of the pool on the pontoon:
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I count around 6 or 7 cygnets here so although this is great to see it cannot be the University swans as she only had 5 eggs (at the last count). I didn’t see any more swans on the Brayford which is quite unusual.

However there were the usual Mallard Ducks (no ducklings), Muscovy Ducks, Feral Pigeons and these unusual Grey Lag Geese, notice how one of them is pure white:
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Definitely some cross-breeding going on here.

I took a few more photographs and then called it a day and went to the LCE High Street Store.

Lincoln Swans Update 6 (2nd June 2015)

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You can read my previous entry here.

After the miserable weather form yesterday I finally managed to visit the two Swan nests today after work. The first nest I came to was the one near the Lincoln University.

Lincoln University Swan Nest
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As per usual the swan was on the nest and there were no signs of cygnets there, I am not sure if the eggs that are being incubated will ever hatch. The Cobb was no where to be seen.
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Just as I was bout to leave a Feral Pigeon flew in and landed in on roof me, I am really dazzled by the bright eye of this bird:
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He was quite a willing subject, this is my best side:
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After taking a few photos I decided to venture down to the St. Marks swan Nest.

St.Marks Swan Nest
As I got near to the nest I was noticing a lack of white in the general vicinity of the nest:
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It looks like after hatching 1 confirmed cygnet the nest has finally been abandoned by the Pen. I am not surprised it was unlikely that the remaining eggs would hatch. It had to have been recent as there are still 3 eggs in the nest. These will eventually disappear as various predators come for them.
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So 1 cygnet from 2 separate clutches of eggs is not a good year for these 2 swan couples. I will keep an eye out to see if the University Swan hatches any cygnets.

Lincoln Swans Update 5 (30th May 2015)

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You can read my previous entry here.

St. Marks Swan Nest:
As you can see from these photographs we are now down to only 3 eggs on the nest (from 7). I can still only confirm that 1 cygnet has hatched:
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The Pen is still determined to incubate the remaining eggs but I don’t believe they are going to hatch now, it’s been too long since the first cygnet hatched over a week ago. The fact that eggs keep disappearing is a mystery and I don’t know if the swan is discarding them or if a predator is stealing them.

Today she was standing up and having a major preening session, it was quite warm after all:
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There was no sign of the Cob or cygnet(s?) today and I checked up and down stream.

On my way to the second nest this Feral Pigeon landed on the fence in front of me so I took a couple of photographs:
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University Swan Nest:
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On my way to this nest I noticed that both the Pen and Cob were together (the Pen on the nest).

They seemed to be very tired as they kept both closing their eye’s (Pen):
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They would open them from time to time to see what I was up to, after I took a few photographs I left them to it(Cob):
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