Saturday, 11 February 2012

Unconfirmed reports and swan mauling

I just don't like Februarys, I don't really know why, I just don't. It would certainly go into my Room 101. I just can't seem to get any enthusiasm going and with the weather being so windy/cold/wet it seems to be an easy excuse to not bother. January and the start of new lists is fine and by March spring is in the air, but February .... not really. But today I made the effort and went out.
A flock of 80 or so Siskin flew over the house as I was getting my things together and it was just below freezing, so things looked promising. What also got me going were a couple of 'unconfirmed reports' of a female Mandarin and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker down the riverside. Both had been looked for subsequently but to no avail.

Salix fragilis aka Crack Willow for an obvious reason
Anyway I went to the river to look for myself, and also failed to see either. I must be honest, where the woodpecker was reported does look spot on for them, and it would be a patch tick for me.
The trees did have quite a few birds in them including a flock of 30 Lesser Redpoll and a small tit flock including Long-tailed Tit and Nuthatch. A Dipper was singing here on the Lumley Park Burn and a Grey Wagtail flew over.

Song Thrush in the woods

I walked back to the Riverside Park just in time to see a Redshank flying up river. A good bird for here, I did not see one on my patch at all last year and so new for the Blog too. At the Riverside Park there was a mass of waterfowl
Waterfowl at the riverside

and gulls including 91 Tufted Duck, 5 Goosander and the winter resident Pink-footed Goose and Yorkshire Whooper Swan.

Pink-footed Goose

Gulls included a high count of 76 Herring Gull and nearly 400 Black-headed Gull.

Black-headed Gulls

A Kingfisher flew up river, then it all went a bit horrid.

A dog ran off from it's owner and attacked one, then another of the Mute Swans. Pandemonium broke out as everything scattered and the dog charged into the river to attack a third swan. Shouts of 'Bruno, Bruno' had no effect as it grabbed the wing of a Mute Swan which managed to escape leaving a mouthful of flight feathers in the mad dog's mouth.  Kiddie's who had been watching and feeding the swans were now screaming and being whisked away by their parents before they were traumatised anymore. Bruno then swam towards the Whooper Swan which turned around to face it and raised it's wings in anger but it was no match for a savage dog. Fortunately our swan from Yorkshire got away with the loss of only a few feathers. The dog continued to paddle after the swans until it was presumably too exhaused and swam back to it's owner and they made a hasty retreat.

Bruno about to attack it's third swan

Yorkshire Whooper attempts to fend offthe mad dog

Nothing new on the flowers but some nice groups of Snowdrops in the riverside woods and a few small patches of naturalised Winter Aconite were just coming into flower in the park.

During the week I did manage to get one interesting record. I was tidying up in the greenhouse and lifted up a some pots that were lying under the staging when out flew a Peacock butterfly. Obviously I had just disturbed it's hibernation. It flapped around a bit but I managed to get it back in a pot and put it back where it came from. It was only later that I remembered exactly the same thing happened in November, presumably with this same individual. The poor thing is not getting much in
the way of a winter rest.
Winter Aconite

Flowering plants    27
Birds            65
Butterflies        1

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