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.

25692 - Whooper Swan, Cosmeston
25689 - Whooper Swan, Cosmeston

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.

25694 - Whooper Swan, Cosmeston

Our native Mute Swans can’t be much help either when it comes to conversation, as their name suggests.

25687 - Mute Swan, Cosmeston

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.

25718 - Lesser Scaup, Cosmeston

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.

25681 - Lesser Black Backed Gull, Cosmeston
25702 - Lesser Black Backed Gull, Cosmeston

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.

25698 - Black Headed Gull, Cosmeston

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.

25695 - Mallard, Cosmeston

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.

25684 - Coot, Cosmeston

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.


TexWisGirl · March 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm

a great bunch of pics! some are just gorgeous! the whooper with the droplets of water clinging to its face is stunning. the mallard drake, too. and i like the noise-making gull. 🙂

holdingmoments · March 14, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Excellent set Adam. Always good to see shots of some of our more 'common' birds.

The first Whooper is a beauty, maybe he'll stay? And the Lesser Black-backed Gulls are cracking shots.

J · March 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Looks like you made the most of your visit, Adam, with some lovely shots. Look forward to the next instalments of your four-part trilogy!

Springman · March 15, 2012 at 2:48 am

Wondrous stuff Adam! I can barely get by that Whooper portrait!

Nadege, · March 15, 2012 at 3:09 am

Wow, these are fabulous images…the swan is so elegant and the colors on the Mallard is so gorgeous.

Tatjana Parkacheva · March 15, 2012 at 7:15 am

Excellent and beautiful photos.

Regards and best wishes

Caroline Gill · March 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

A most enjoyable post, Adam, with great photos. I wonder if you visited the 'ancient' village, too? I always wondered why Mallards tend to differ so much … never considered the farmyard duck influence before as a reason. On our visit a year or so ago, we greatly enjoyed watching the Great Crested Grebes in their mating display mode.

joo · March 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

The first photo is marvellous!

Judy · March 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I love the portraits of the whooping swan, and the mallard drake! The water droplets on the swan, and the broken colours in the ripples around the drake are just incredible!!
I know what you mean about some birds just sounding sad – do you have mourning doves in Britain?

Adam Tilt · March 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Wow once again thanks for so many nice comments.

Judy – we don't unfortunately, just Collared Doves.

Caroline – I did have a brief look but the Bittern at Forest Farm was calling me away.

Keith – I have a good feeling that it might very well stay long term.

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