Heslington Lake – The last hurrah

A slightly belated post, as a combination of sickness and getting to grips with my new job has meant I’ve not wanted to sit and start writing. But now, a week late, I can reflect on my last week of walking the university lake.

Given it was my last week, I made a point of getting out every day, though the photos are all from the Monday (29th January). So not everything I will mention has a picture!

On the Friday I even, after four years of deliberate solitude, took a small group round the lake to meet my feathered friends. So if any of you from that trip read this, thanks for accompanying me, and please go without me now.

What was great about the week is that it felt like I was leaving just as things were changing from Winter to Spring. On the one hand, the winter flocks such as the Siskins were still around the fringes feeding on the trees. But elsewhere, residents such as the various tits, blackbirds, and thrushes were starting to look at nesting.

Of course, nesting also means mating and all the attendant aggression that can come with it, and some of the ducks were getting a little over-excited.

Adding to the sense that spring was on the horizon, two of the familiar breeding birds were back. The first pair of Pochard arrived the previous week and were still around the following week (though not on the day I actually had my camera). Also, I was delighted to see this bird pop up (literally, it popped out of the water).

Yes, a Great Crested Grebe. Only the one that I could see, but hopefully it means they will resume breeding, ideally a bit earlier than in 2017.

All the usual geese were around the lake too, though sadly one single Snow Goose seems to have become detached from the main flock. It is carrying an injury too, so may not be keeping up.

It goes without saying that I’m going to miss the lake. Getting to see such little dramas at such close range, getting to know the birds so well. I’ve seen at least one grebe chick at the moment it hatched. We had the breeding Pochard last spring, and the drama of the late-nesting Grebes too. I’m sure there will be many more stories to come, it’s just someone else will be seeing them through.

Of course, it’s not all sadness. Far from it. I have a new and exciting opportunity with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and even a week in it is clear it is going to be full of fascinating challenges. It will also be full of wildlife. By the end of the first week I’d already been to one new reserve, and over the next month I have the likes of Spurn, Flamborough, North Cave, Pearson Park, and Skerne Wetlands to come. To say nothing of the Living Seas Centre. I may even manage to sneak my camera out on some of these excursions!

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One Response to Heslington Lake – The last hurrah

  1. Emily Scott says:

    Congrats on the new job, it sounds exciting.

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

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