On Sunday we had our most productive and enjoyable day out of the year to date; so successful in fact that a single blog entry would never be sufficient to cover it entirely. Instead consider this the first of a trilogy that is likely to be in four parts (if you don’t get that reference then go and read Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy now!). Our morning had been spent shopping so the afternoon found us at Cosmeston Lakes on the outskirts of Cardiff. Regular readers may remember it from our visit there in December to see a Whooper Swan that had recently dropped in. Amazingly the same bird is still present and even more tame after a couple of months of interaction with people.
This time around the Whooper was being far more vocal, regularly calling with a voice that to my ears at least sounded almost mournful. I know we as humans have a tendency to transplant our own feelings onto birds and animals but it really felt as if it was calling out for others of its kind. Why this particular individual has arrived and stayed on its own is a mystery that we will probably never solve, but I did at least manage to photograph its jewellery that shows that this bird was ringed in Worcestershire during January 2011.
Our native Mute Swans can’t be much help either when it comes to conversation, as their name suggests.
Unlike during our last visit we also managed to catch up with Cosmeston’s other celebrity bird, a male Lesser Scaup. With only one or two records in the UK per year these are very rare ducks indeed, so this being my second after the female at Slimbridge in January is pretty good going. Unlike the Whooper however he was being far less accommodating, preferring instead to stay near the centre of the west lake.
Away from the rarities I was actually more excited to see so many Lesser Black Backed Gulls sitting around on the waters edge, squabbling over bread being thrown to the ducks by visiting families. Despite seeing them on a regular basis I have almost no decent photographs of them so this was an opportunity too good to miss. My only challenge was trying to pick out an individual from the thirty or so that were present without any extra beaks or bums creeping into the background.
It was interesting to note that since December the pecking order amongst the gulls seems to have changed quite considerably. Back then it was the Black Headed Gulls who were the most numerous and were fighting each other for the bread. Now though they have been very much misplaced by their bigger rivals and were only to be found skulking around the quieter areas of the lakes.
Another species I don’t really have many photographs of is the humble Mallard. This is partly due to the fact that they are so darn common that I rather unforgivably overlook them, but it has more to do with how difficult it sometimes is to find one in pristine plumage which has not cross bred with any escaped farmyard species. Fortunately the superb male below prompted me into action and I got some lovely shots.
Coots are a bird that I love to watch given their gawky nature and massive feet. The individual below gave a particularly impressive swim past as it showed how it puts those oversized feet to good use.
Around the lakes the number of smaller birds were more than a match for their water loving cousins. Reed Buntings, Goldcrests, Long Tailed Tits and Mistle Thrushes were all present but you’ll have to wait until tomorrows post to read more about them.