September on Heslington Lake, University of York

I’ve not had the time to spend editting and then sharing images, writing posts, and that means a couple of posts now that are a little behind the times. I hope you forgive me…

It’s been a while since I posted anything from Heslington Lake at the University of York, so here are a few images from 10 September. It’s mainly Great-Crested Grebes.

The behaviour of the grebes has been a real contrast to last year. In 2014 the same pair lost three of four chicks in the first brood, and largely abandoned the fourth chick to his own devices. I have to assume he/she didn’t make it. By June they were on a second brood, which did better with two seemingly making it through. By September they were even fussing around the nest as if they were considering a third brood. Basically, they seemed like an inexperienced pair and it showed.

2015 has been a different matter. They’ve had one brood, but they’ve been all business. Totally focused on raising their single brood. The result is that nearly four months on from hatching that brood, all four are alive and hanging around with one or other parent, usually two per adult.

Young Great Crested Grebe Heslington Lake, Sept 2015

Young Great Crested Grebe
Heslington Lake, Sept 2015

The most difficult bit of trying to photograph them is getting them when they are not preening. Being a grebe, needing to be in top condition and efficient in the water, means your feathers need a lot of attention. Something they take very seriously.

Grebe preening

Grebe preening

Grebes. Preening.

Grebes. Preening.

The young don’t need to preen anyhere near as much, but this means they spend a lot of time waiting for Mum/Dad to stop and get them food.

Waiting patiently

Waiting patiently

Will I ever get the attention I deserve?

Will I ever get the attention I deserve?

Of course, like any youngsters, they don’t have a lot of patience. So they start pestering their beleagured parent.

Gimmee gimmee gimmee!

Gimmee gimmee gimmee!

But the parent does occasionally sit up, reminding us all what glorious birds they are (and instrumental in the history of the RSPB – a post for another day).

DSC01510 DSC01399Incidentally you can still see the last vestiges of the ‘red spot’ on the juveniles, and if that means nothing to you, please check out this old post: The Red Spot.

RedSpotAlso a lovely look in that image at the adult’s plumage where they are preening their wing.

It’s not just grebes, there are plenty of geese, with Snow, Barnacle, Greylag and Canada all still present.

Barnacle Goose Heslington Lake, York, Sept 2015

Barnacle Goose
Heslington Lake, York, Sept 2015

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

I love Barnacle Geese, they are a really pretty, delicately marked little goose. Their facial markings are unique to each individual, meaning they can identify each other.

Sadly though, they are currently facing a really unnecessary threat thanks to the Scottish government. There are around 80,000 Barnacle Geese in the world, and in winter about 40,000 of these head for the island of Islay (maybe drawn to the world’s greatest whiskies?). This is a problem for locals as the geese take up grazing land, but other tactics have been doing the job. So it’s inexplicable that the Scottish government have decided to cull 10,000 birds this year. That’s 12.5% of the world population if you don’t want to do the maths yourself. A shocking over-reaction.

Juvenile Moorhen Heslington Lake, Sept 2015

Juvenile Moorhen
Heslington Lake, Sept 2015

Plenty of young moorhen and coot around too, along with the mallards that are ever-present.

Belated, but as of last week (early November), the first Siskins had appeared.

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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