Friday, 7 March 2014
Goosander and a mimic?
Earlier this week saw me back up to Milton Keynes and another visit and walk around Caldecotte Lake (the ‘boss’ is still away!). The water was almost back down to it’s normal level although the river was still very full and fast flowing. The bird life seemed to be very sparse up at the normal gathering point on the arm behind the pub, the large flock of Wigeon that are usually there were gone, which left just a few Tufted Ducks, two drake Pochard, three Great Crested Grebe, quite a few squabbling Coot and an elusive female Goosander and that was about it.
Further round and the dam wall was covered from end to end with Black-headed Gulls with the odd Common Gull mixing in. The rest of the main lake seemed to be devoid of any birds at all, save for a couple of Mute Swans ‘upending’ close to the bank. And then I saw the reason why there were so few birds…in the distance coming from under the road bridge, side by side and, causing a large wake were two boats..a speedboat and the RIB from the yacht club! Not much hope of seeing any birds today then?
As I continued on around a large flock of Graylag Geese came flying noisily in from the meadow by the river where I’d seen them grazing earlier.
I managed to ‘catch’ these two.
Further on around, in the quieter waters by the houses and the bandstand, I spotted a male Goosander. Taking cover behind a tree I was able to get reasonably close, and for once it hadn’t spotted me. I spent a good half an hour taking photos but with the contrast between the Goosanders dark head and white body I was having difficulty with setting the correct exposure on the camera, either getting blocked in darks or blown highlights!
Here’s two of my best efforts…
I almost got the green sheen on it’s head in this one!!
Moving on and my attention was drawn to a funny sounding cooing noise coming from the branches above me, almost like a cooing Wood Pigeon but not as clear or as loud, scanning the branches I soon located the culprit…it wasn’t a Wood Pigeon, but a Carrion Crow attempting a very good impression of one. I tried to get some video but as soon as I got the camera to focus through the branches it flew off, it’s always the way!!
Further on and I met a little old lady out walking her dog ‘have you seen the Heron’ she said ..‘no none yet today’ I replied… ‘there’s one there’ she said pointing to a juvenile Heron on the far side of the water and then we both heard a sound…’Woodpecker’ she said…and that’s what it sounded like to me a bit weak but definitely a drumming Woodpecker. Scanning through the branches and no Woodpecker to be found, and then the drumming sound again…almost above our heads this time, an there doing it’s best to be a Woodpecker was…yep!…a Carrion Crow, the same one that was earlier being a Wood Pigeon! The little old lady went off shaking her head and saying ‘ my husband won’t believe me when I tell him about this’. I’m not sure I believed it either, I knew that Crows were intelligent birds but I didn’t know they went in for mimicry?
Not much to report from the rest of my walk around the lake, a dozen or so Cormorants loafing in the trees on the island and a small raft of gulls out in the middle of the south lake and the odd Mallard and Tufted ducks. And Keith’s ‘pet’ Robin came zooming in for some food, even before I’d got the bag of seed out of my pocket!
And to finish, showing well in the sunshine, a Carrion Crow…no, not ‘the’ Carrion Crow!