Thursday, 28 January 2021

Three mornings round the park

The Safari has had a wander or three round the lake at Stanley Park. Basically we've been looking for somewhere with close wildlife and not too much mud for the mutt to collect and the park fits the bill especially if the ground is frozen. 

The first day was the best with bright sunshine and a frosty start. As usual these days we had a few target species to try to find to go towards our Photo Year List Challenge tally. There was plenty on offer and we took advantage of all the regular hotspots, by the boathouse where the Mute Swans get fed, the wild side of the lake and the two impromptu feeding stations the regular park visitors keep topped up.

Cormorants often sit on the rails along side a multitude of gulls

Dunnocks aren't often as photogenic as this one
Great Tits are always present around the feeders - shame the light was iffy for this one.
So far this year this is the only Goldcrest we've seen - well spotted flitting around in the undergrowth by CR.
Canada Geese are a regular feature on the lake.
As are Coots.
The boathouse roof is the favoured haunt of the large flock of Feral Pigeons, from up there they can spot a bag of bread or bird seed arriving from the car park long before the other birds. This year we've made the decision to only get pics of true (or as true as possible) wild Rock Dove types.
Tufted Ducks can be present in fairly large numbers, sadly today there were no Scaup with them as there was at the end of last year.
 
 
At the northernmost end of the lake there is a Silver Birch tree bedecked with Witch's Broom growths as featured in the WinterWatch list of things to find at this time of year, although it can be seen all year round as it is a permanent growth it's easier to see when there are no leaves to obscure the view.

The Ring Necked Parakeets' favourite nesting tree blew down in a gale before Christmas but they still hang around the neighbouring trees where there are feeders full of all manner of goodies left out for them.

Nuthatches too aren't shy of coming really close to make the most of the freebies.
Back at the boathouse the Mallards are never going to pass up on the chance of more bread.
And neither are the Black Headed Gulls!

A grand morning out n about on safari and proving you don't have to go far to find stunning wildlife - indeed we can't go much further than this due to the current lockdown restrictions. And really good to see a very young lad out with his new little binoculars and camera enjoying the wildlife. Hopefully in 50 years time he'll know way more than we now know about wildlife and there's still plenty of wildlife left for hm to enjoy, more than we have now would be even better!

Our second visit turned out to be rather odd, the birds seemed to have disappeared on us although we did avoid the boathouse area of Mute Swans, Mallards and Feral Pigeons due to a gaggle of dogs Monty doesn't get on with so we ended up going behind the boathouse through the woods. The first pic we took was of a large fungus looking fairly fresh. Not something we'd expect on a very cold morning in late January. Now we are useless at fungi  but good friend and all round fungi guru AB tells us it's a Tawny Funnel, not one we've ever heard of before.

Our next pic was again not of birds but a patch of early flowering Daffodils, not easy with the 150-600mm lens any further back to frame them better and we'd have put our foot through the ice at the edge of the lake.
Eventually the birds did come but still far from the usual numbers. A Wood Pigeon was eying up the feeders from on high making sure the coast was clear, despite all the people and dogs always around these birds are still quite shy while most of the others have become accustomed to all the disturbance.
Others like several of the Robins now regularly come to the hand for titbits.
The stars of the show were a pair of very active Blue Tits, definitely some courtship going on they were flying round the trees chasing each other for ages.

Eventually one got a bit peckish and came down to feast on one of the apples poked on to the branches mostly for the Ring Necked Parakeets.
That's a big portion for a little dicky bird.
Behind us a few Black Headed Gulls mooched about between the thawed water and the still frozen patches. 
And round the corner the usual Cormorants were sat on their usual rail.

Fog and mist was the order of the third visit making the park and especially the lake very atmospheric.

With dark murky conditions what we saw wasn't worth pointing the camera at until we got round the far side of the lake and spotted a couple of Herons back on their nests. This is the first time we've seen them up there this year but others have already posted pics of them in much better light it has to be said.

Wandering back the way we came as the light improved slightly gave us a few more photo opportunities like this Coal Tit.
At the big feeding area one of the Ring Necked Parakeets was having a good old feast one one of the several apples.
As ever the usual Cormorants were on their usual rail. This one is in top breeding plumage, it must be quite an old individual to have as much white about the head and neck as that.
We finished the morning enjoying the the intricate patterns in the plumages of the immature Herring Gulls by the boathouse.
Where to next?  Not very far for the next six weeks that's for sure but when the weather allows we'll be out somewhere local on safari armed and dangerous with the camera to show you what we've been able to find.

In the meantime let us know who's lurking in the mist in your outback.
Enjoy your local wildlife - it;ll do you good but make sure you stay safe.



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