Christmas around Heslington Lake

_dsc9284-1280x852This week will have a few slightly belated posts from images taken in the last couple of weeks of December, starting with a winter update from the university campus.


A lot of the time the lake has been lightly frozen over, which has troubled some birds more than others. The warning signs are there for the students really, and it’s fair to say most of the birds don’t pay any attention. Which in most cases works fine.


The gulls certainly have little issue on the ice and are perfectly content. The coot, despite how assured that one is above, are less so. They crash through at regular intervals, and seem to have real issues with balance for a bird with such big feet.


For the bigger birds it’s a case of finding something that clears the ice, or clearing it yourself. The resident pair of Mute Swans have no problem clearing themselves some space, though they don’t tend to like company.



Another good source of clear water is the fountain in the centre of the lake, and that opens space for birds such as cormorant and goosander.


Hint of a rainbow to the left here as the sun hits the falling water

The goosander are here in bigger numbers than I’ve seen before, probably around thirty individuals, but they don’t like being close to the edges if you are walking by. As such, they have not been easy to photograph.


It is mainly females, though there are a few males in there too, probably juvenile males still hanging around their mothers and sisters.


The cormorants tend to occupy the highest ground when not fishing, and that’s the structural girders atop the concert hall.


Avoiding the water at all is an option, and plenty of birds have taken this option. The coots and moorhens can be seen sweeping majestically across the grass like wildebeest across the savannah.


There are more unconventional options too, such as the edge of a weir.


I’ve always believed it’s important to get all your ducks in a row…

For the local Grey Herons it’s a challenge, but the trees are always an option.


What this winter has seen are a number of beautiful winter days where the cold is offset by blue skies and sunshine, and all the resident wildlife loves the opportunity of warming, however brief it may be. I’ll leave you with a few such images.

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Because these images were taken on two different days (21st and 28th December), you may notice variation in the conditions.

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2 Responses to Christmas around Heslington Lake

  1. Emily Scott says:

    Fun to see the ducks all lined up like that!

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

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