Here’s a few photos from a couple of walks from Jenny Lane down to Tong Park Dam area. A walk from cricket pitch to cricket pitch in fact.
As usual the images are on flickr and clicking on them will take you to that photo on flickr withing the album.
After passing the play area on Jenny Lane, towards the top end of the rugby club, there are a few wire above the path. A great place to see young Swallows calling to be fed.
And then getting flying insects pushed down their throats. Yummy!
Willow Warblers were also collecting insects for their young. This one was spotted just before getting to the Moorside Equestrian Centre. The Bracken and small trees were providing good cover for the young. Several small flocks of young Goldfinch were also around but they were feeding themselves on various seed heads. I didn’t get any decent photos of the Goldfinch, they all had their backs to me.
Much further down on the walk nearer Birks Wood and Willy Wood moths and butterflies were more evident. There were lots of Chimney Sweeper moths (Odezia atrata)…
Small Heath or Meadow Brown? I should be able to tell the difference between them. The Small Heath is small and the Meadow Brown medium size. With a little help from one of the experts (Yorkshire branch of Butterfly Conservation) I am now going for Meadow Brown.
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)… (but where is the white dot in the eye?)…
I also noticed a small number of Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)
This Longhorn Moth (Nemophora degeerella) was somehow managing to hoist its antenna into the air. They are a lot longer than its body.
A large number of Azure Damselflies were around. They got more and more common as I got closer to the various ponds.
At the Denso Marston Nature Reserve Celebration Day I learnt that a newly hatched Damselfly can be difficult to categorise. I think this is a newly hatched one.
By the footpath between Tong Park Dam and the cricket ground were several clusters of Sawfly Larvae. Apparently they group together for protection in numbers.
For this shot of Tong Park Dam, with ducklings and Swan, I held my camera as close to the surface of the water as I could.
It can be really noticeable that when a parent duck spots you it makes a quck or two and all its brood get together as quickly as possible and try to follow the parent.
On the other side of Gill Beck I was pleased to spot this Whitethroat.
And even more pleased to see that it had a family.
Back at the Dam I got my camera down low again to take a few photos of the cob Mute Swan that was swimming about. I quite like this shot of the swan coming towards me as it dips its head in the water.
I got this one as it lifted itself up flapping its wings. The next shot was of it a lot higher but unfortunately it went off the top of the frame. I am concerned about the state of its flight feathers. They look very battered and worn. They look nothing like the majestic wings you often see when a swan does this. Has it moulted? Has it been battling with invaders of its partners nest?
You can view the photos above, and more, in the album on flickr.
Moulting of Flight Feathers
Birds moult and have to replace the feathers that they lose. Ducks, Geese and Swans are different to other birds in that when they moult their flight feathers they lose them all. During this time they may not have enough feathers to be able to fly. This puts them at greater risk of predation. I have seen a small number of dog owners allow their dogs to chase wildlife. It was a frequent sight in Robert’s Park where dogs would run along the path by the river and chase the ducks and geese into the river. Sometimes the dog would also go into the river forcing the birds to fly. The owner may think that it is “just a bit of fun” and that the birds can “just fly away” when the need to. But during a flight feather moult these birds would not be able to fly and may harm themselves trying or be caught by the dogs.
Many of you will have seen male Mandarin Ducks on the canal or river, they are quite colourful. Springwatch had a Mandarin Duck brood this year.
Many male ducks shed their flamboyant colours when they go into their annual eclipse and are unable to fly. This is a male Mandarin Duck during eclipse. You would hardly recognise it but I am pretty sure it is the same one as in the photo above it.