Heron Catching a Toad (29th March 2013)

On Good Friday, I took a ride along to the Swans Pond and came across an FWN favorite bird, a grey Heron. The Heron was one of the first wildlife species we filmed and even entered a film to an international nature film festival in Belgium.

As I scanned along the pond I spotted the swans looking well and with the water levels low they could easily forage for food below the surface.

Next was the Moorhen, great to see it too as were not one Coot but now a pair, hopefully we will see some nest building in the coming weeks.

I have only filmed Herons as they stand in there perfect statue pose but thi can be quite boring after a few seconds, so it was great to see this young one walking along the edges of the pond, then to my delight i caught it catching a toad and eating it whole.

Was great to see how they use their long beak to spear there prey and eat it.

Continue reading “Heron Catching a Toad (29th March 2013)”

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Swan Diary #8

After the excitement of discovering a new family on the pond last week, today was a pretty quiet day with the new chicks hiding away in the reeds on the far side.

I actually got the breed wrong !

What I thought were Coot chicks, were actually Moorhens, which have very distinctive red and yellow bill compared to the Coot,s who are white billed.

The bottom of the Cygnets neck is changing colour.
The Heron had just flown in beside the swans
Coot with its white bill
close up of Coot
Moorhen with chick behind it.
The one young Duckling here is from a different family to the 7 i showed previously
Unidentified chick ?

When I was on my way home, I came across a Buzzard sitting on some wires,I quicky got off my bike and managed to get these few shots before it took flight.

Buzzard, perched on wire
Distinctive shape of the Buzzard
Takes flight !

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Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross

Flock to Scotland’s largest lowland loch, where spring wildlife abounds

The migratory flocks may be preparing to call time for another winter, but like all the best watering holes, Loch Leven has its regular clientele. Ducks rule the roost here; the tiny islands, reedy shoreline and shallow margins of the loch, nestling below the protective shoulders of the Lomond Hills, are home to more breeding pairs than any inland watercourse in Europe. Tufted ducks and mallards dominate, while gadwalls, burrow-nesting shelducks and a handful of rare breeders such as pochard and shoveler jostle for space on the water.

White-tailed eagle

Sightings of Britain’s largest bird of prey – also known as the sea eagle – are increasingly common. In 2007, as part of an ongoing reintroduction programme, chicks were released in neighbouring Fife. Young white-tailed eagle roosts are frequently found near the mouth of the Gairney Water and on Reed Bower and Castle islands. The birds chase ducks and compete with buzzards and foxes for carcasses.

Pink-footed goose

Each winter, thousands of pink-footed geese, flying south to escape the Arctic chill of their breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland, converge upon the calm and comparatively warm waters of Loch Leven. In late autumn, numbers can reach 20,000, and they remain regular visitors right through to spring.
By day, the geese scavenge food from surrounding fields before returning well fed at dusk to roost by the water.

Tufted duck

The largest of the loch’s seven islands, St Serf’s, is home to between 400 and 600 breeding pairs of tufted duck. Well protected from predators, the resident population swells during the winter months as their northern cousins arrive from Iceland and Scandinavia. Smaller than a mallard, tufted ducks have distinctive black and white patterning, a small crest and yellow eyes. They like deeper water, where they can dive for food.

Nature trails

Vane Farm has two nature trails for you to enjoy. The short wetland trail has three hides, all near the visitor centre, while the mile-long woodland trail climbs through birchwoods, home to willow warblers, tree pipits and great spotted woodpeckers, to a viewpoint on the summit of Vane Hill. While there is no optical equipment in the hides, you can hire binoculars from the RSPB shop at Vane Farm.

Otter

While water shrews and water voles live in many of its ditches and streams, the largest mammal found on Loch Leven is the otter.
A semi-aquatic fish-eater, it inhabits dens in the riverbank known as holts. The best places to spot them are around the mouths of the various watercourses flowing into the loch, particularly the River Leven. Keep an eye open for tracks in the muddy banks.

Castle Island

The ruins of the 14th-century Lochleven Castle stand on Castle Island. The castle has a turbulent history. Besieged by William Wallace and used as a prison by Robert the Bruce, its most famous resident was Mary Queen of Scots, held here from 1567 to 1568. A small boat ferries visitors to the island from the fishing pier.

Swan Diary #1 ~ Swans and Ducks

Overview

Swan

The mute swan is a very large white waterbird. It has a long S-shaped neck, and an orange bill with black at the base of it. Flies with its neck extended and regular slow wingbeats. The population in the UK has increased recently, perhaps due to better protection of this species. The problem of lead poisoning on lowland rivers has also largely been solved by a ban on the sale of lead fishing weights. Some birds stay in their territories all year, while others move short distances and form winter flocks. In cold weather, some birds arrive from Europe into eastern England.

Where to see them

Breeds across most of the UK, other than in northern Scotland, mid-Wales and the moors of south-west England. Possible to see anywhere there is a shallow lake, or a slow-flowing rivers, even in urban areas and parks.

When to see them

All year round

What they eat

Water plants, insects and snails.

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DUCKS

Overview

Duck

This very grey-coloured dabbling duck, a little smaller than the mallard, and with an obvious black rear end. It shows a white wing patch in flight. When seen close up the grey colour is made up of exquisitely fine barring and speckling. It nests in low numbers in the UK and is an Amber List species.

Where to see them

Visit gravel pits, lakes, reservoirs and coastal wetlands in winter. To see breeding gadwalls look in the shallow edges of lakes and gravel pits where there is vegetation – mainly in the Midlands and south-east of England, eastern central Scotland, eastern Northern Ireland and the south-east of Ireland, and south-east Wales.

When to see them

Anytime of year, but chances are better in winter when numbers increase as birds migrate to spend the winter in the UK, away from harsher continental weather.

What they eat

Stems, leaves and seeds.