My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Sunday, 5 April 2009

A garden first and some dancing!

Well what a day! Had a pottering about morning then decided I would have an early sandwich and go out. Packed the camera bag and bins were in the car. Heard some birdsong that I didn't recognise so looked out into the garden - grabbed the "indoor" bins and WOW - there were three of what I believe are a Lesser Redpolls - and if someone can confirm or otherwise, I'd be delighted! (I've compared the Lesser and the Redpoll in the book but I'm still not sure)

Frantically unpacked the camera and managed to get these very much record shots but nonetheless....whey hey! - a first for my garden.

So where was I going?

My daughter very kindly gave me a year's membership of Painshill Park for my birthday so, as the weather was not too exciting, I decided to stay local and went for my first visit as a member. I like Painshill Park - it's not a formal garden but is a park as the name suggests. It has some rather interesting features in terms of the follies, many wooded areas, covers a large area with some hilly bits (for exercise), birds and is only "just up the road" so to speak! So off I trotted!

Last year there were a pair of breeding Great Crested Grebes and they successfully raised three young. So, I wondered, would they be there this year?

All the water fowl were in aggressive and pairing mood. An aggressive mute swan certainly didn't want this "intruder" in his patch.

Saw Canada Geese, Greylags, three broods of Egyptian Geese (4, 5 and 7 goslings!!). Coots everywhere and one had laid a single egg in its nest. Mute swans and some of last year's cygnets were very evident but in the minority were, unusually, the Mallards.
(Now isn't that a thrilling photo! Lol)

As I walked through the middle island I was watching the water and, wow, spotted two Great Crested Grebes way out on the lake. It was quite a distance to negotiate to get round the to right spot and no guarantee they wouldn't have moved back to the bank I'd just left.

So nothing ventured, nothing gained and I shot off at a fair old lick!

And it paid off. I must have watched them for about an hour and a half. Initially they were quite happily just swimming about. Then they started that wonderful call they have. The came closer together and, facing each other, they began to sway their heads from side to side.

This went on for several minutes and they then swam about on the lake.

A coot came close by and was very positively and aggressively chased off by (I assume) the male Grebe! Interestingly this activity seemed to produce a reaction and one of the Grebes dived down and came up with some weeds....

they then started to "dance" - only one of the grebes came right out of the water but I was transfixed as I stood there watching them.

WOW - this is the first time I've observed this springtime ritual and feel privileged to have witnessed it - fantastic!!

As I turned to leave that particular spot, I heard that wonderful "mewing" sound and looked up - yes, a Buzzard winging it's way over the tree tops. Only the 2nd time I've seen one here.

Following all that excitement, I wandered back slowly towards the car and home. On the way this Greylag was having a stretch.

Just a few "scenic" bits as I wandered about.

A piece of nature's sculpture

The Chinese Bridge - it was from here that I watched the three Grebe chicks last Spring.

This is the Grotto. Entirely man-made but fascinating nonetheless.

I do enjoy what Nature presents us with - even after the tree has gone.

From inside the Grotto looking out through one of the "windows"

Well, what a day - one full of marvellous surprises. I'm now about to enjoy a glass of the red stuff and my evening meal.

Thank you SPD - for the membership (which means I can keep an eye on the Grebes and other birds) and also for many return visits for some much needed exercise on a more regular basis :D

I still have a smile on my face now!


Warren Baker said...

Nice one Tricia. Lesser Redpolls they are, a good garden species!! Your day didn't just start and end with that either. Now don't drink too much of the red stuff!!

Tricia said...

Warren: thank you for the ID. Nice to know I was on the right track then!

Pete said...

nice one on the Grebes and the Lesser Redpolls

mick said...

I'd say it was a "Wow" day all the way through! I am fascinated by the distinction you make between a 'garden' and a 'park' as we don't see a difference like that out here. I went over to the Painshill site and am still a bit puzzled. I think its bigger than a 'garden' but are there no formal flower gardens? Obviously it has to be groomed and cared for, I think - so am still a bit unsure of the differences.

ShySongbird said...

Lovely day out Tricia and lovely photos, the 'dancing' Grebes are fascinating. Beautiful place to visit I'm sure you will make the most of your present! I'm very envious of the Redpoll.
Just about to open the red stuff here too, so CHEERS!!

Graham James said...

Hi Tricia, good to hear you've had Lesser redpolls on your feeders. Time to give Richard a run for his money! Lovely photos again, and the grebes' courtship display must be one of the most beautiful natural sights in the UK.

shirl said...

Hi again Tricia:, wow what a day in deed! I hope you enjoyed your glass of the red stuff :-D

Congrats on Redpolls in your garden – what a wonderful sight they must have been! I’ve just this minute spotted a second Song Thrush and I’ve just seen it and the regular one fly off so we could have a pair now :-D

What a great gift from your daughter. What a wonderful place! I love nature’s sculptures, the bridges and the caves but the grebes!! What can I say, even as a garden bird watcher I have heard of this ritual and for you to see it I might guess this would be one of your highlights of the year – in birding terms :-D

Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Your photos were fantastic! I have a smile on my face for you :-D

Anonymous said...

Super brilliant images of the GC Grebes Mrs R.
Very well done.
About the Redpolls. They have been reclassified more recently just to confuse things. What use to be the Redpoll now consists of the Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret) and the Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) and are two separate species. Lessers are resident and Mealys only seen in Winter. The Mealy is a lot paler as well. Of course there is also the Artic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni) and only seen as a vagrant if you are dead lucky.
I looked that up, seeing as you are such a super Lady.{:)

Phil and Mandy said...

Love the Grebe shots, fantastic birds. Phil

swatson said...

a redpoll.... fantastic,I can only dream...fabulous photographs as usual

Cheryl said...

Hi Tricia.....I won't comment on everything I would like to as I would be here forever.....

From start to finish I was captivated by your photography....some amazing shots, well done......thank you so much for sharing some unique moments.....

Nature's artistry was stunningly beautiful........

Richard said...

Hi Tricia,
Congratulations and welcome to the exclusive Lesser Redpoll Club. I hope you can attract a few more of them.
Another 30 and you'll have caught up with me!

Goosey said...

How fantastic to see the Redpolls in your garden, I'm very envious! Lovely pictures and descriptions as always

SPD said...

I am so happy for you what a day! I have found some more grebes nesting nearby so you'll have to come see my little ones! Great pictures amazing what seeing a coot off can do! Walking today we had the much noisier attacks of the Canada geese seeing everything off! Seem to be a lot of egyptian geese around too much to Js delight!

Tricia said...

Pete: VERY nice!!

Mick: A "garden" is usually referring to a smaller area and quite often often a more formal layout and planting. A garden would have many flower beds and quite often herbaceous borders etc. Quite often there is a house in the grounds too.

Whereas a "park" is usually a much larger area with open spaces and, whilst often "man made" has a very informal appearance. Landscaping on a grander scale.

In the case of Painshill, there are merely two flower beds tucked away in a fenced off area which many people do not find.

Hope this isn't too jumbled an explanation!

SS - thank you. I could have watched the Grebes for longer but they eventually swam elsewhere.


Graham: It is a beautiful sight with beautiful birds. I will always remember that moment when they started to "dance" and I was there to see it!

Shirl: A pair of songthrushes - let's hope they nest nearby! And yes - will be a highlight for this year definitely.

Roy: Thank you for your praise!

And many thanks for the research on the Redpolls - I shall become lazy at researching if you continue Lol. And no wonder I couldn't distinguish between the two!

AND Mr. N - you are making me blush again!!

Phil: I agree - fantastic birds they are indeed.

Sheila: I lived in this house for many many years and it's the first time they've visited. So don't give up hope!

Cheryl: Nature is probably the best artist I've found and thank you for your kind comments.

Richard: I was green with envy reading about your Redpolls so I nipped over to your garden - you will probably find you've got three less now :)

Goosey: I consider myself very lucky!

SPD: Oooh MORE Grebes!! I shall pop over and have a look. Egyptian Geese certainly seem to be on the increase. Between Bushey Park and Painshill there are 5 broods that I know of and elsewhere.......well. I think J will have to come to Bushey with me then..

Midmarsh John said...

Beautiful blog as always. I could never keep up with your outings. One of yours would take me a week to get over and I'd need the bottle not a glass :)

Liz said...

Fantastic new visitors Tricia, you must be absolutely thrilled!

Lovely park photos, it looks like a very good day in the end :D

Tricia said...

John: thank you. My outings really are very little ones it's just that I'm so lucky to see so much when I go out. I have to admit that I so enjoy being out in the big natural world! And, having worked for most of my life I now have the opportunity......

(A bottle it is then John :D)

Tricia said...

Liz: Absolutely thrilled - and yes, twas a grand day :D

holdingmoments said...

What a fantastic day you had, Painshill Park looks well worth the visit. I've never seen the 'weed dance' of the Grebes; and you got pictures too. (I'm not really jealous lol)
Lesser Redpolls in the garden would be a first for me, well done.
A great post, with great pictures.

Tricia said...

Thanks Keith. A case of right place and right time - like your grebe with its meal :).

Don't know if the L.Redpolls will be back but - who knows? It's great just watching the garden birds....

Little Brown Job said...

Love that first shot of the Swans, looks like he's got an outboard motor!

Tricia said...

And it sounded like it too Paul, Lol.

Jayne said...

Hi Tricia.....I won't comment on everything I would like to as I would be here forever.....

From start to finish I was captivated by your photography....some amazing shots, well done......thank you so much for sharing some unique moments.....

Nature's artistry was stunningly beautiful........

Cheryl's comments say it all for me so I'll just repeat them - absolutely stunning shots!!

Chris said...

Hi Tricia,
Wonderful post and that's nice you got a new one in the garden, Congrats. But my favorties are the one of the grebe courthsip behavior. Simply fantastic...

Eagleseagles said...

So lucky to have been there with the Camera! -The Grebes I mean - I have seen this before but never with a camera - you must be so happy!

The Redpolls in your garden too - great.

There does seem to be a few more Lesser Redpolls about this year with a few Mealy (ies) in with them!

A lovely w/e for you Tricia!

Tricia said...

Aw Jayne - thank you so much!

Chris - it's always great to have a new bird in the garden, however ordinary, but this one is a little bit special!

C - Let's hope the Redpolls stay put for a bit - there were two there today - day 2!!

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