Following on from part 1, we’re still photographing swans, because , well you can’t have enough magnificent swan pictures really. 🙂
The familiar pose with neck curved back and wings half raised, known as busking, is a threat display. Both feet are paddled in unison during this display, resulting in a more jerky movement. The swans may also use the busking posture for wind-assisted transportation over several hundred meters, so-called windsurfing.
The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds. In several studies from Great Britain, males (known as cobs) were found to average from about 10.6 to 11.87 kg (23.4 to 26.2 lb), with a weight range of 9.2–14.3 kg (20–32 lb) while the slightly smaller females (known as pens) averaged about 8.5 to 9.67 kg (18.7 to 21.3 lb), with a weight range of 7.6–10.6 kg (17–23 lb). The most familiar sound associated with mute swans is the vibrant throbbing of the wings in flight which is unique to the species, and can be heard from a range of 1 to 2 km (0.6 to 1 mi), indicating its value as a contact sound between birds in flight.
We often come across other people walking around the lake and now and again I can sneak in a people picture, in this case a little people picture’
and two couples, people and swans,
but rarely do we come across people in or on the lake, so this lot gave us a nice surprise.
they were having a grand time!
and swans are not the only birds at the lake though these are in a dead tree.
And that’s about it for Bolam Lake. Next time we’re popping around the corner to revisit St.Andrews Church so stay tooned for that!
Sophie and I were making the best of Autumn and so the weekend after visiting Belsay, we went off to look for more Autumnal colour and to see the swans et al at Bolam Lake. We last visited 4 years ago in September 2017 – ah, the good old pre-plague days! Looking back at those photo’s there was more autumn colours in September 17 than there was in Oct 21 🤷♀️.
Bolam lake was constructed c.1817 for Lord Decies of Bolam. John Dobson was commissioned to lay out the grounds in 1816, including the 25-acre artificial lake and woodland. Northumberland County Council purchased the lake and some of the surrounding woodland in 1972 for use as a Country Park.
The weather was a bit pants, but the swans didn’t seem to care. Bolam has a herd of Mute Swans, though they are not entirely mute, as they’ll hiss or snort if feeling threatened. But they are quiet in comparison with other types of swans, and in spite of that are quite beligerent with the male swans highly territorial. They will threaten intruders, striking an aggressive pose with wings arched over their back, before charging at them to chase them off.
There are many collective nouns for a group of swans, they can be a bevy, a gaggle, a whiteness, or a wedge, but only when in flight. Herd is OK too which suits me fine.
Since the 12th century, the Queen has had the right to claim ownership to all unmarked mute swans in the country swimming in open waters, and there is a traditional swan upping ceremony, an annual ceremony that has taken place for hundreds of years and takes five days. It’s held every July on the river Thames at Caversham. In the ceremony, a flotilla of Thames rowing skiffs, manned by “Swan Uppers” make their way along the river led by The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber. The cygnets are marked as being either part of the Vintners or the Dyers livery companies. This is determined by their parentage. All Crown birds are left unmarked. Although it’s a tradition it also helps with conservation. Anyway, it only happens on the Thames and the rest of the country’s Mute swans can go about their business unaware that they are Royal swans, although they always look regal, so maybe they are.
There is more to see than swans though, so let’s move on. The ground was damp, and shady so we came across a few mushrooms and fungi, I love finding ones I haven’t seen before.
my last photo today is of a dear little dog, a collie I think, who was undergoing some training with her owner. I hope it’s a girl dog!
That’s it for this week. As you read this I’ll be driving 250 miles down south, takes about 5 hours, to visit with my son and grandson, so will be late answering comments today.
Stay tooned for next time, there’s more to see at the lake 🙂 .
The prompt for Day 4 was ‘Breakfast’. Well you can’t beat a boiled chucky~egg with toasty soldiers can you?
Day 5’s prompt was ‘Relinquish’. I’ll let you make your own interpretation of what I was relinquishing!
Day 6 was ‘Letters’. I chose an old calligraphy artwork I did back in the 90’s, a poem written in 1941 called High Flight by John Gillespie McGee Jr, an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force.It’s my favourite piece of work that I did.
Day 7 ~ Open. (This one’s for Kim 😘) A good book can open the heart and the mind.
Day 8 ~ Home ~where I stand. This one had to include your feet, good excuse to get out the posh boots 😊
Day 9 ~ Fascinating. This will be a quarterly challenge, taking a picture from the same place in different seasons, and adding each one to the previous shot, so a diptych, then triptych finishing the series as a quadtych. This is the wildlife sanctuary down the road from me, usually full of water birds, but frozen over today.
Day 10 ~ Feathers. “Take us on a trip and show us what feathered friends are native in your neck of the woods. ” Ya got to be joking- no unecessary journies also the weather is pants here today so I trained my camera on the happy eater tree and waited a couple of hours until some birdies showed up. Luckily the bunch of long tailed tits arrived. Thay are doughty little birds and probably my favourites.
After we’d visited NELSAM we still had a couple of hours of daylight so decided to visit WWT Washington Wetland Centre as it was only up the road from the museum and is always good for birds and otters.
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust started out in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, and was set up by Sir Peter Scott, (son of Scott of the Antarctic). Peter became an Olympic sailing medallist and a well-known painter and broadcaster. He created the IUCN red list which measures whether species are threatened or endangered. He was the founding chair of WWF – and even drew their famous panda logo.
The Trust is all about conservation of endangered species, and their mission is to save critically endangered species from extinction, work with communities around the world who depend on wetlands and inspire people to take care of nature.
There are 9 WWT’s across the UK and we are lucky enough to have one near Sunderland. I’ve done a few posts on this blog from the WWT but there’s always something new to see.
There is a pair of Black Swans at Washington, they have white wing tips and red bills with a white stripe on them.
We were very excited to see a kingfisher, as neither off us had seen one in the flesh before
Further up in that part of the lake a heron was also fishing
We went to see the asian short clawed otters at feeding time
The breeding programme at Washington is very successful and when the litters of the main pair grow up they are sent to other wetlands to diversify the gene pool.
Then we went to see the flamingos, my faves, but walked past the geese first,
The weather was deteriorating at this point so that was the end of our day out, but stay tooned to see where we end up next time!
In 1964, a 15 acre lake was created to help drain the ground for Killingworth New Town, and almost straight away a boating clubhouse was built which is alongside a public car park. Several different groups still use this clubhouse and more use the lake and park, which is run by North Tyneside Council. A bunch of retired chaps interested in building, racing and sailing model boats formed a sailing group, which is now affiliated to the MYA (Model Yacht Association).
Sophie and I stopped off here on our way back from somewhere as I knew there were swans on the lake, and the racing was in full swing.
As well as Puffins, various other sea birds breed and nest on the Farne Islands. Here are a few of them.
Kittiwakes are one of the most abundant birds around the Farne Islands. They make a nest of mud and straw which often has to be rebuilt as they are easily washed from the rocks by either torrential rain or heavy seas.
The Arctic tern is famous for its migration; it flies from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year, the shortest distance between these areas being 19,000 km (12,000 mi). The long journey ensures that this bird sees two summers per year and more daylight than any other creature on the planet. One example of this bird’s remarkable long-distance flying abilities involves an Arctic tern ringed as an unfledged chick on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK, in the northern summer of 1982, which reached Melbourne, Australia in October 1982, just three months from fledging — a journey of over 22,000 km (14,000 mi).
They also have very sharp beaks, and dive bomb people arriving on the Islands to keep them from their chicks and eggs, which they stupidly lay right next to the path we all have to walk up!
The shag bears a close resemblance to the cormorant~ so much so that it often causes it to be mis-identified as the latter. When seen alongside each other, the differences can be more readily seen. The shag is a dark bottle green colour and is approximately three quarters the size of the cormorant. During the early part of the breeding season, the shag has a crest on the top of its head which drops back down when it has mated.
Guillemots, like the puffins and the very similar looking relation the razorbill are members of the auk family of seabirds. They don’t build a nest, instead they lay a pear-shaped egg on the bare surface of the rock, which, if kicked or bumped will spin in a circle and not be knocked off. A few weeks after the guillemot chick hatches it will jump from the rock, still unable to fly, into the water where it will feed for the first time, being taught by its parents. Many of the guillemot chicks do not survive this transition and in late June of 2004, thousands of chicks died due to poor weather conditions. Approximately 3% of the guillemot population at the Islands are “bridled”, these birds have a white ring around each eye with a white streak leading to the back of their heads, which almost makes them look as if they are wearing spectacles.
The razorbill is very similar in shape and size to the Guillemot, the main visible differences being that the razorbill is a much more blackish colour compared to the dark brown of the guillemot. It also has a much squarer shaped bill with a white diagonal streak on the end and a white line leading back to the eyes.
Lots of different types of gulls too, Lesser Black Backed (try saying that after a sherbert or two!) Great Black-Backed, Herring, Black Headed, but I didn’t catch all of them
And of course, the Island is also populated with photographers at this time of year
So that’s the end of our day out on the Farne Islands. Stay tooned for next time when we are going back in time, to several wars!
Puffins!! This is the main reason we go to the Farne Islands, to see the huge colony of puffins that come here to breed and we try to get some in-flight shots, which are SO difficult because the buggers fly at supersonic speed! There are 3 types of Puffins but here in the UK we get the Atlantic Puffins.
Puffins form long-term pair bonds or relationships. The female lays a single egg, and both parents incubate the egg and feed the chick (or “puffling”).
The Dads dig out the nests, or use rabbit burrows if there are any about. Puffins eat both fish and zooplankton but feed their chicks primarily with small marine fish several times a day. The prey species of the Atlantic puffin include sandeel, herring and capelin. They also have the ability to hold several (sometimes over a dozen) small fish at a time, crosswise in their bill, rather than regurgitating swallowed fish. This allows them to forage far wider than your bog-standard one-fish-at-a-time sea bird, as they bring back much more food in one go. And I think it’s much more pleasant than vomitting up into your chicks gob!
Puffins are hunted for eggs, feathers and meat. Atlantic puffin populations drastically declined due to habitat destruction and exploitation during the 19th century and early 20th century. They continue to be hunted in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. In fact the Atlantic puffin forms part of the national diet in Iceland, where the species does not have legal protection. Puffins are hunted by a technique called “sky fishing”, which involves catching the puffins in a big net as they dive into the sea. Their meat is commonly featured on hotel menus. The fresh heart of a puffin is eaten raw as a traditional Icelandic delicacy- seriously guys?? On the small Icelandic island of Grimsey as many as 200 puffins can be caught in a single morning
Puffin populations are in decline. Puffin records on the Northumberland coast archipelago date back to 1939 when 3,000 breeding pairs were recorded, and every census until 2008 showed a steady increase in pairs. But in 2008 numbers fell by a third, from 55,674 to 36,835. This is thought largely due to the impacts of climate change.
Erpur Snær Hansen, director of ecological research at the South Iceland Nature Centre, says if surface sea temperatures remain at current levels or higher, the entire puffin population of south and west Iceland will disappear in the next 10 to 20 years. Maybe if they didn’t eat so many…
Although the puffins are noisy and shouty at their breeding colonies, they are silent at sea. They fly relatively high above the water, typically 10 m (33 ft) as compared with the 1.6 m (5.2 ft) of other birds.
Next time we’ll look at some of the other inhabitants on Inner Farne, but here’s a few more puffin pictures until then..